Thursday, March 12, 2015

'It's Not About Snacks And Scooters': How To Win The Big Talent Game

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'It's Not About Snacks And Scooters': How To Win The Big Talent Game

Forty percent of employers report difficulty in securing talent, according to a recent report by HR consultancy and staffing firm Manpower  Group. There’s a lack of hard skills, there’s a lack of soft skills, there’s a lack of suitable candidates in general.

What’s a hiring manager–or a job seeker–to do?
That was the topic of a discussion about changes in the American workforce and the challenges of finding and retaining the best available talent that took place Thursday afternoon as part of the second annual Forbes Reinventing America Summit in Chicago. 

The panel included Tom Gimbel, CEO of LaSalle Network, Caralynn Nowinski, M.D., Executive Director of UI LABS, Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871, and Kip Wright, Senior Vice President of Manpower North America.
When it comes to seeking quality talent among young professionals, “It’s really not about foosball and snacks and scooters,” said Tullman. “[Young adults] want to work on big problems. They want to work with other talented people. They really want to make a difference—that’s more generational than it’s ever been. They don’t care abut ownership, they care about experiences and managing their work life in different ways.”
Each of the panelists expressed dismay at the lack of skills training that’s currently part of the education system.

“I actually see this getting far worse,” said Wright, referencing the Manpower research that cited a dearth of technical and soft skills among job candidates. “It has as much to do with education and what our education system is putting out—a traditional four-year curricula—instead of more short, targeted bursts of skills that are useful in an immediate capacity.”
Nowinski noted that a new challenge for employers, particularly those seeking manufacturing talent, is to create a workforce that combines the model for a more traditional knowledge worker with specific experience with that of a worker trained with digital skills they can continue to update.

“How do we make sure that we’re thinking about how tech and talent solves those problems?” asked Nowinski. “How do we ensure that the person on the line who now listens for things and smells things and feels the vibration—how do you translate those skills into the next generation of workers? Now we’re talking about using a combination of a knowledge worker and digital technology.”
Gimbel observed that in addition to an education better suited to producing a skilled workforce, job seekers need to be playing an active role in educating themselves.
“Parents pay thousands and thousands for private lessons for the kids,” said Gimbel. “Go back and take a class [yourself.] Go to school. You want your kid to be competitive but you’re not going to invest in yourself?”
Further, Tullman noted, job seekers need to be ready to show employers a strong work ethic coupled with a willingness to pay dues and earn independence.
“The talent has to do a good job of convincing prospective employers that they have a longer term horizon and are ready to work,” said Tullman. “It really is about patience. You might have a clear view of where you want to end up but it’s really not a short distance. Everybody’s in a hurry today but we have to teach a couple of these generations that you have to earn the ability to do it your own way.”
Gimbel suggested that it’s society and workers at large–rather than millennials, specifically–that have become entitled, but that active communication with employees can assuage that issue.
“Eighty percent of my company are millennials and they’re the hardest working people out there. I think what they want is more communication and more information–telling them what this is going to lead to.”
Ultimately, Wright recommended, companies need to begin to look at their talent horizon the way they would their financial outlook.
“How many of you spend months looking at your talent plan? Do you, every month, look at your financial plan? Of course. We’ve got to fundamentally think very selfishly and aggressively about how we manage our talent.”

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