Helping People & Organizations Find "Hidden" STEM Talent!

By Nancy Parsons

With the escalating talent shortage and the Great Resignation underway, finding those with capabilities and high potential for STEM careers is more critical than ever.  According to a recent DOD report, “The United States lags in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education leading to a severe shortage of technical talent in the U.S. workplace.” This shortage impacts all industries and according to a Deloitte survey in Semiconductor Engineering, 82% of executives cite a shortage of qualified STEM candidates, particularly in technical and engineering fields.

Yet, here is the rub -- many individuals in the workplace and in college have the inherent capability to work in lucrative STEM careers, but just don’t know it. Raw talent for STEM careers frequently goes underdeveloped, especially for female and minority candidates. This is often the result of their socio-economic backgrounds that may not have had provided the tools or support to identify their true talent and capabilities.  Many wind up in jobs that keep them at the lower end of wage earners when they could soar to greater levels of economic and professional success.

Over the past 20+ years, I have debriefed many college or college bound students with the CDR Character and CDR Drivers & Rewards Assessment, as a favor to clients or colleagues. Every one of these young people were pursing the wrong major. Nearly all were undervaluing and missing great opportunities that aligned with their gifts. It was important to help these students see their true potential and to redirect their educational path to develop into onto the best course, many being STEM careers.  In order to be successful, one must focus on both their inherent strengths and passions – one without the other does not work.

Last month, my firm launched another first of its kind, the STEM Fit Review.  We added this to our Stevie Award-winning CDR-U Coach[i] Career Action Planning Module (CAP). This review provides analysis and feedback on whether a candidate has the personality characteristics and motivational drivers to be a successful STEM professional based on our research of successful STEM candidates and leaders. This new service even takes it further by also identifying STEM candidates with leadership or project management strengths or math-only STEM capabilities. This is ideal for individual development or for those to use before investing in their college programs. To help companies, universities, or tech programs, we also offer “STEM Fit” assessment candidate reports for selection (for internal or external candidates) into STEM academic programs or for organizations.  These reports can also be used for upskilling and reskilling internal talent.

It is important for organizations to know what true talent exists within, top to bottom. Most companies do not have accurate data on this. Sometimes an employee’s current job has nothing to do with tapping into their true potential.  Here is one story where we identified “hidden STEM talent” and changed this woman’s life:

This was personally the best thing I have ever done. Ever since that day I entered the program my life has changed for the better. Formerly, I was an Administrative Assistant in Salt Lake City and felt stymied in that role. I was relocated to Tulsa for this new opportunity as a Systems Analyst after completing Boot Camp training. Also, the most impressive part of the redeploy selection process itself was the coaching feedback I received with my assessment results. It is something I recommend to everyone. I feel extremely fortunate that I was part of this initial group.

To recently she wrote...

I have often thought of your organization’s part in my career and the life-changing opportunity that was provided for me some time ago now. Often, I have mentioned the personality assessment that was conducted by your team and how I was told that I was a “perfect match” for the position. In fact, it makes me giggle a little now when I realize the somewhat stereotypical nature of a software professional’s personality. However, during these many years I have also come to realize that I have a bit of gift when it comes to bridging those who are technical with the business people which has served me well in multiple roles in my career. Yes, the value of your work has impacted my life tremendously in such a positive way.  THANK YOU!

Becky Warberg, who is now the Associate Director, IT Delivery at Teladoc Health

Investing in, identifying, and developing critical talent can be far more successful and expansive if organizations start to assess all employees’ inherent capabilities and motivational facets which will show those who have the potential for STEM development and careers. Until companies do this, an abundance of essential talent will continue stay under the radar and remain underdeveloped.

[i] CDR-U Coach is the 2021 Stevie Award winning AI-type avatar coaching platform that debriefs the unmatched CDR 3-D Suite, a trio of scientifically validated assessments. CDR-U Coach’s personalized debriefs are driven by complex algorithms and leveraging rich data with predictive results, CDR-U Coach provides a robust coaching experience for users with no two individuals receiving the same feedback – it is that personalized.  CDR-U Coach also offers two action planning modules to take the feedback to actionable developmental steps. CDR-U Coach is completely virtual, available 24/7 and users can go back and review or update action plans at any time.