As everyone from Dan Pink to Harvard Business Review has noticed (and noted), a huge shift is underway in the form talent is taking. Restricting hiring opportunities to one type of employee (traditionally, FTEs) is no longer an option for businesses that aim to stay relevant and attract the best experts for their organizations.
In order to find and attract today’s top talent, you first need to understand what that talent wants, and how these priorities inform everything from the type of work they do to the type of companies they’re drawn to. Here are the 3 big things you as a hiring manager need to know about what talent really wants, and what they mean for you when you’re looking to fill your next position.
Today’s Talent Wants More Options
The old “work for one business till you die” mentality is no longer realistic, or even feasible, for today’s talent. The business environment is shifting too rapidly, and talent is learning to adapt to survive by the rules of the new game.
The early 1900’s manufacturing economy — where people worked the same job till they retired and received a pension at the end as a reward for loyal service — is fast becoming a thing of the past. Baby Boomers (workers born between 1946 and the early ‘60s) and GenXers (those born from the early ‘60s to the early ‘80s) may have entered into this world, starting off their careers with the mindset of being in it for the long haul, but thanks to things like the recent recession, they’re quickly learning their dedication will no longer pay off for them the way it did for their parents and grandparents.
As companies struggle to stay relevant and competitive in a world with ever-shifting product cycles, layoffs, mergers and reorganizations have become common business occurrences. And as employees see these constant changes, restructurings and downsizings, they’ve begun to realize the old notion of being a “company man” (or woman) is no longer a guaranteed — or even somewhat secure — path to success.
It’s because of this precarious business atmosphere that the newest entrants into the workforce, Millennials (born between the early ‘80s and the early 2000s), increasingly demand a different kind of career path from the get-go. They don’t see themselves attached to a specific company so much as to a specific mission or purpose. They eschew the corporate, 9-to-5 structure and focus on being empowered to add value and do meaningful work on their own terms. According to a recent piece on Inc.com, over one-third of Millennials think of themselves as freelancers and 32% anticipate working more flexible hours in years to come.
In short, people are looking for smarter ways to get paid for their skills. There is also an increasing desire among driven, ambitious experts to take their careers into their own hands and seek out the places where they can to do their most impactful work.
Today’s Talent Wants to Make a Difference
More and more people, across all ages and experience levels, want to do high-impact work in a way that makes the most sense for their lifestyles, delivering real value to companies they feel a sense of connection to. Sometimes this can happen in a traditional corporate job where they climb the ladder; many people are perfectly happy with that route, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. But there are many other ways to deliver impact and find meaning in your career, and it’s important for companies to realize that personal career empowerment is here to stay.
People are increasingly choosing how, when and where they want to work and defining their unique value-add to a company. Due to this search for more meaningful, high-impact work, today’s talent pool is full of highly specialized workers — experts in their specific discipline with core competencies perfectly suited to fill the talent gaps faced by businesses small and large. These real-world experts are hyper-focused on what they want to be known for, which means they’ll create the biggest impact for you in the fastest timeframe possible, because that’s all that they’re doing.
Today’s Talent Wants More Flexibility
Another major driving force for today’s talent is the oft-cited desire for more “work/life balance,” which can be hard if not impossible to find in a traditionally structured job. People want the freedom to spend time with their families and take care of their personal obligations without being handcuffed by red tape and outdated policies. They want the power to negotiate working arrangements that work with their lives rather than against them. What’s more, they increasingly have the leverage of skills and experience that enable them to seek out the companies where this negotiation is possible, rather than squeezing themselves into a box that puts the rest of their lives on hold and forces them to cram anything not labelled “work” into the evenings and weekends.
The rise of movements like the Results-Only Work Environment (or ROWE) speaks to the growing desire among today’s workforce for companies that focus on the quality and results of the work they produce rather than their ability to plant their butts in their seats during a particular set of working hours. While some companies are embracing progressive ideas like flexible work schedules and telework, for many people, seeking true autonomy over their work means leaving the world of FTEs and embarking on a career as a consultant, temp, freelancer or other alternate role.
All of This Calls for a New Hiring Process
Companies that aren’t set up to find and attract, let alone embrace, today’s talent on their terms are missing out on a vast available pool of experts — and experts that have become increasingly specialized to meet the needs of today’s businesses.
The great thing about today’s flexible, highly specialized talent is that they’re “plug and play” ready. Whatever your project, whatever gap you need to bridge between the skills your current employees have and the skills needed to address your latest challenge, this new talent is poised and ready to get the job done, and done right.
You no longer have to worry about finding a way to “deal” with the team you have; you now have the freedom and power to create the team you want.
But in order to do so, you need to broaden your scope to a more holistic hiring approach and open yourselves up to the new forms of talent available in the market today.