While job creation is the buzz in Washington, the economy continues to suffer around the country. Since the recession began in 2009, employees have experienced downsizing, rightsizing, smart-sizing, or whatever you want to call it when employees are unceremoniously given five minutes to gather their belongings, be escorted to the exit, and in the process, go from employed to unemployed in complete disbelief.

Peter Cappelli, the George W. Taylor Professor of Management at The Wharton School, wrote about the skills gap and what companies can do about it in his book, Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs. “For every story about an employer who can’t find qualified applicants, there’s a counterbalancing tale about an employer with ridiculous hiring requirements. One of my favorites is a job ad for a cotton candy machine operator…To test whether the company’s hiring standards were too high, a Philadelphia-area human resources exec applied anonymously for a job in his own company. And he didn’t even make it through the screening process.”

Also, with the advent of automated systems to assist with the hiring process, hiring managers “feed all the credentials and expertise into a job description to minimize the risk that a candidate will fail, making it virtually impossible to find anyone who fits.” What is the result? Companies are “looking for a unicorn” – a candidate that doesn’t exist. This is why many positions remain unfilled for weeks, months, and even years.

So what can a company do? What can a job applicant do? Who holds the key to the solution?

The workers-jobs disconnect can be severed by true leaders. Individuals who empower their employees to make an impact, to strive to do better work, and to become mentors for other employees will be the ones who can help their businesses become more successful. More successful businesses result in higher profits. Once businesses show better financials, they will increase the size of their teams – which will create more jobs.

As businesses become more financially secure, it will become clear as to what types of new employees will be necessary to further evolve. Perhaps, a larger IT team will be necessary. Perhaps, a larger marketing or PR team will be necessary. Perhaps, a larger manufacturing team, a larger R&D team, or a larger operations team. But whatever the case, the current economy presents a unique opportunity for leaders to step up to the plate and inspire others.

In the words of management consultant Peter F. Drucker, “Your first and foremost job as a leader is to take charge of your own energy and then help to orchestrate the energy of those around you.”

Debbie Laskey has 15 years of marketing experience and an MBA Degree with a concentration in International Marketing and Management. She developed her diverse marketing expertise while working in the high-tech industry, the Consumer Marketing Department at Disneyland Paris in France, the non-profit arena, and the insurance industry. Currently, Debbie is a consultant to small businesses and non-profits in California, and specializes in brand marketing, social media, employee engagement, leadership development, and customer experience marketing. Since 2002, Debbie has served as a judge for the Web Marketing Association’s annual web award competition and has been recognized as one of the "Top 100 Branding Experts" to follow on Twitter.


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