As the chair of DeVry University’s Career Advisory Board, I’ve been talking about skills gaps a lot recently. Usually, I address either the technology skills gap or the soft skills gap specifically, and I’m usually referring to graduates of four-year institutions who are pursuing careers in the business world.

In reading my friend and veteran HR thought leader Sharlyn Lauby’s new book The Recruiter’s Handbook, however, I was alerted to an entirely different type of skills gap: the middle skills gap. According to Sharlyn, the middle skills gap is defined as those jobs that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year-degree. A recent Accenture report claimed that the industries most affected by the middle skills gap are finance, telecommunications, healthcare, and retail.

Sharlyn recommends addressing middle skills gaps (as well as other types of gaps) by gaining information that allows you to bridge where your workforce is today with where you want it to be in the future. Specifically, you may wish to consider the following action steps.

Pay attention to what’s happening in your geographic area and industry: What’s happening on a global or national stage might not pertain to your region. Your industry could also be affected by external factors other types of organizations aren’t facing. Anyone in the position of hiring needs to know their unique market conditions.

Find credible sources of information: “Fake news” doesn’t just happen in politics. If you’re going to cite sources for a trend or solution, they need to be from trusted authorities. You don’t want your CEO questioning your business case.

Be a routine consumer of news: Being well-informed is always a strength, and news comes in so many formats that there’s something for everyone – including articles, videos, and podcasts.

Develop an opinion about recruiting trends for the positions you source and hire: If your CEO asked: “Do you believe this skills gap exists?,” what would be your answer? Would you be able to elaborate on your position, using evidence from research to support your claims?

Ask questions: Based on today’s trends, you should be prepared to question your hiring process. Think twice about whether your cited requirements match the actual job being performed, and whether you have a solid plan in place if you can’t find a candidate in the market with the right skillset.

For more of Sharlyn’s thinking on modern day recruiting, check out The Recruiter’s Handbook. It’s an easily digestible, yet highly practical read.

Alexandra Levit is a Partner at PeopleResults and is passionate about helping people and organizations succeed in the evolving workplace. You can reach her at or on Twitter @alevit.