Why Talent Matters Now More Than Ever

by Ryan Healy on March 14, 2012

A quick look at the jobs data will tell you that while there is still high unemployment, companies of all sizes are hiring.  This is great news, the recession is finally coming to an end, but the catch is that most companies are hiring for hard to find skills like Software Developers, Data Scientists, Social Media Strategists, Digital Marketers, and User Experience Designers.  Each of these skills is very specific and not possessed by most of the population, which explains why there are so many unemployed people out there with so many open positions available.

The fact of the matter is that there will never be enough talented people who have the exact skills that companies need, because technology is changing at lightning fast speed and skills that were relevant five years ago, or even two years ago are often outdated today.  Every time a new platform comes along (think Facebook, IPhone, Adwords), old important skills become obsolete and new skills that often never even existed before become critical, and as we all know technology is not slowing down.  If this rapid pace of innovation continues we will soon see industries being disrupted and new types of jobs created every other week.  The ramifications of this on the workplace are enormous and every talent management professional, executive and entrepreneur needs to be aware of how this affects their company.

First off, the need for recruiting, nurturing and retaining the best of the best talent is more important than ever.  It is the single most important function in a company.  Most of us understand this already, but more and more even the executive suite in major corporations are beginning to realize that they can no longer ignore the “soft stuff” like HR, Talent Management, and Succession Planning etc.

This “soft stuff” is all about people and people are what ultimately determine if organizations win or lose. Whether you’re a massive company who needs to continue operating at maximum capacity, or you’re a 3 person startup who needs to innovate and iterate at rapid speed to beat your competition, the people you hire and don’t hire, the people you promote and the people you let go, will ultimately determine your fate.

Second, the definition of “talent” has fundamentally changed.  Talent used to be someone who had years of experience in a particular field or a particular skillset.  But when the skills you need to win change every other month, you need a new type of talent.  You need someone who knows what skills will win, and who is motivated and savvy enough to learn those skills on their own.

This new type of talent may be from a tier 2 or tier 3 school, and they may not have any experience in your industry, or in some cases, any experience at all.  As someone who is growing a team you need to create your own definition of talent, identify the traits that they need, and hire folks who fit the bill.

For example, at Brazen we’re always looking for people who are hungry, flexible, honest and most importantly, curious.  I know that someone who has all of these traits will succeed.  If the first experiment doesn’t work, they’ll try the next experiment.   And while they’re in the middle of that experiment, they’ll be writing down ideas for experiments three, four and five.  One way or another, someway, somehow, they will figure it out.  I also know that someone who is constantly curious and motivated will never be able to rest until they have learned the next critical skill.

When technology changes so fast, and things go in and out of focus, the only way to stay ahead and stay relevant is to stay educated, and to never stop learning.  To me, that’s what a startup is all about, and those are the types of traits we look for when we’re hiring.

As technology continues to outpace education, and new skills become critical overnight, the true “talent” will be the people who stay hungry, stay curious and never stop learning.  The most successful organizations will be the ones who identify, hire and retain these special people. “Talent” may not look like it used to, but it is without a doubt more important than ever before.

To learn more and continue this conversation around talent, you can join me at a webinar on April 10, titled “Are You Winning The War For Gen Y Talent?” 

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