Most of us working in business have heard all the noise about the current talent shortage, with managers across the board being told they are in the midst of a war for talent which will make it difficult to find the right talent to fill empty roles.

At the same time, we see news updates showing unemployment rates in Australia and New Zealand have reached 6.3% and 5.9% respectively, leaving many people asking how we have a talent shortage when unemployment rates are this high?

The answer is that the talent shortage is not simply a lack of available talent.

What we are seeing is an increase in the specialist skills and requirements that are needed in market at a time when many budgets, especially for headcount, are being trimmed. A recent Forbes article put it excellently, stating that "there’s a talent shortage whenever employers complain that they can’t find people with just the skills and the background they want, at exactly the price they’d like to pay".

The talent is out there, it just might not look the way you expected it to, so it's likely you will need to make a compromise in one or more areas. Will you take someone who has the right skill set, but their experience is outside your industry or sector? If you are determined to find a certain skill set and specific experience, will you raise your hiring budget to secure that perfect match? Will you prolong the recruitment process, impacting productivity and increasing costs, until the right candidate comes along instead of hiring a not-quite-right candidate who is available now?

Where you compromise will depend heavily on your industry, your current operations and the rarity of the talent you seek. This is where we see some organisations raising the stakes when it comes to benefits, fuelling the "war for talent" and putting more on the line to secure their dream employee, especially in rapidly growing industries with a high demand for specialist skills.

This has led to much more attention paid by organisations to developing attraction strategies and employee value propositions that position them as an employer of choice. Never before has there been such a focus by businesses on areas such as workplace culture, flexibility, benefits and services.

Organisations are now out-doing each other trying to attract and retain talent, with generous offers such as Netflix Australia & Virgin Group's extensive parental leave, Red Frog Event's offer of a fully paid one month sabbatical every five years and the almost hotel-like environments at Apple, Google and Facebook that include laundry service, fully catered meals and nap pods. With the extraordinary levels of investment and huge demands for specialist talent in Silicon Valley, it is unsurprising that tech companies are leading the way in perks with some of the most generous benefits around.

For companies without such massive resources at their disposal, your focus should be on creating the best workplace environment and culture you can, and one which is completely aligned with your values. This will ensure that you attract candidates that are a good fit for your company, because it is clear who you are, what you stand for and what sets you apart.

Speaking with a talent specialist can help you find the right balance between the skills you need, the experience you desire and the budget you have. Together you can quickly determine if your expectations are realistic and what your best option is if the talent you are trying to source is out of your budget, or particularly uncommon in your location or industry. This will help ensure you don't discount or overlook any candidates who might be the best option for your organisation at this time.

They can also give you access to a much wider talent pool of candidates than are likely to come across your ad on your website or a job board. They will also help prepare a shortlist of relevant candidates, saving you the time-consuming task of working through resumes and selecting candidates for interview.

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