We’ve entered the skills economy. Whilst automation, AI and robotics is set to boost global GDP by $15 trillion, it will also displace jobs. By early 2020, PwC predicted 3% of jobs will be at risk, climbing to 30% by mid-2030s.
It may seem that this paints a picture of a huge wave of joblessness, but that’s the wrong way to look at it. Automation is already having an impact today and the focus must be on re-skilling. Learning has become a survival skill.
The skills economy poses a challenge for talent acquisition professionals who need to hire differently to build the workforce of the future. In some cases, it’s hiring people with newly acquired skills, and in other cases it’s filling a position that’s completely new. Does it make it still appropriate to ask for a certain number of years’ experience, for example?
Cornerstone and IDC recently collaborated on a research project, speaking to almost 2,000 managers in HR, IT and line of business across Europe.
When asked about the most important criteria in hiring new talent, job requirements came out on top for 57%, as UK businesses continue to test how well a candidate’s skills match a job role. Equally, the importance of education requirements when hiring are on par with the European average at 41%, as are references and diversity.
However, while candidates must be able to solve problems or conduct tests to showcase critical and lateral thinking capabilities, British organisations seem to lag slightly behind European counterparts on the emphasis given to these criteria (35% vs. 38% for problem solving and 20% vs. 22% for lateral thinking).
Recruiting for aptitude and attitude
Deloitte predicts that expertise will have an ever-shorter shelf life as technology continues to advance at speed. Meanwhile, soft skills such as empathy, social skills and communication will be in higher demand – skills that do not tend to carry much importance on a CV.
Organisations are already under the spotlight from an employee’s perspective, with sites like Glassdoor allowing the CEO, job interviews and the organisation to be rated more generally. With soft skills becoming more important, this idea of “rating” a person won’t only be for the leadership but also for every employee. The CV of the future is likely to feature more personality tests and anonymous reviews from peers.
The computer will see you now
These days, many HR teams use automation in the initial stage of talent acquisition, during the CV sifting process. Today’s technology essentially reviews words, and those with the most matched keywords are surfaced to the top of the pile. In the future, they’ll have a similar tool – but it will be much, much smarter.
AI will be trained to process a much more complex set of data, including social media posts, project experience, relevant trainings, personality test scores and more, to assess candidates more holistically.
The rise of project-based work
Currently, organisations hire for a defined job role with the assumption that this job will subtly change over time (as will the employee), or if the position goes altogether, the employee will be placed in another position at the firm. Experts predict a change here, as project-based work increases.
Already, media production and IT typically work on project-based activity, and marketing, finance, R&D and other functions are beginning to follow suit. We’ve seen this disruption at scale with the arrival of the gig economy.
Again, this shift will impact how candidates represent themselves on a CV, showcasing the myriad of skills from one role to the next – whether at different companies or internally at one firm.
Time to play catch-up
As we saw in our research with IDC, British organisations are lagging slightly behind their European counterparts when it comes to emphasising skills over other criteria like education and job requirements.
HR must rethink how they access candidates in the context of the skills economy. You may be able to hire people with the right qualifications today, but the long-game is about hiring people with the right aptitude and attitude. And of course, they must have an appetite to learn!
Peter Gold is principal consultant at Cornerstone OnDemand.
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