Once graduates understand and see the reality of the job search as a b-to-b process as explained in our previous post; the next step is to get insights on how companies select applicants. And they should be aware of which skills are the most “in-demand” in the current professional environment. In previous posts, we’ve explored the fact that because of fierce competition and the influence of new technologies, job applicants can no longer simply rely on their degrees and the skills they acquired during their studies. In this post, we will discuss what the key selection criteria are nowadays and identify the must-have skills that companies and their recruiters are actually looking for.
1) The need for new comprehensive ways to assess international job applicants
As the globalisation of work increases and the number of graduates worldwide explodes, recruiters need to find new comprehensive ways to assess an ever-growing number of international job applicants. The time when applications were almost strictly evaluated based on education level and college reputation is over. New comprehensive criteria are being taken into consideration and recruiters are now asking themselves new questions when searching for candidates, such as: “Is the individual capable of high-quality strategic thought; and does the capital that they possess enable them to make a potential contribution to the value creation?” (Scullion et al., 2014, p. 63). To be able to answer these questions and evaluate the global capital of a candidate’s talents, recruiters need to collect new data about various sub-categories of that capital. But what precisely are the different forms of talent capital that present themselves for evaluation?
2) Human capital and business-model capital
The first type of talent capital is so-called “human capital”, defined by the OECD (in Scullion’s book) as: “The knowledge, skills, competences and attributes embodied in individuals that facilitate the creation of personal, social and economic well-being” (Scullion et al., 2014, p. 63). Scullion also describes it as: “The assessment of threshold skills and competences necessary to be deemed talented.”
The second form of capital is the “business-model capital”, which is, according to Johnson (as quoted by Scullion): “An intellectual capability that enables insight into the dominant performance logic inherent in an organisation’s strategy” (Scullion et al., 2014, p. 63).
3) Social capital and reputational capital
The third form of capital is “social capital” described by Nahapiet and Ghoshal (as quoted by Scullion) as: “The collective value of an individual’s social networks and the inclinations that arise from these networks for members to do things for each other and for that individual, called social capital, defined as “the sum of the actual and potential resources embedded within, available through and derived from the network of relationships possessed by an individual or social unit” (Scullion et al., 2014, p. 64).
And finally, the last sub-category of capital that recruiters should evaluate is “reputational capital”. Described by Harvey and Novicevic (as quoted by Scullion) as: “An assessment of being known in the network for getting things done and the capacity to effectively build constituent support and acquire legitimacy by using traditional forms of power” (Scullion et al., 2014, p. 64). Interestingly, if we take this idea of “reputational capital” further and take into consideration the growing role of one’s online reputation, we can say that managing one’s online reputation is also becoming a key factor for graduates, in order for them to have a chance of matching the new selection criteria of modern recruitment. As Beals puts it: “When I want to find out about a given person, I “Google” them. If the person’s name shows up on a lot of websites, I’m impressed” (Beals, 2009, p. 57).
Of course, all these qualities and different forms of capital are difficult to evaluate. However, clever companies willing to find candidates with high potential and valuable talents now track these criteria. This is why it is absolutely necessary for graduates to be conscious of these talent capital subsets. They need to acquire and showcase up-to-date skills which fit into each of these forms of capital. But what are the most desirable skills in today’s digital world?
4) Personal branding and social media literacy
Two of the “most-wanted” skills regularly mentioned by recruiters and professionals are personal branding and social media literacy. During one of his seminars, O’Brien once said that: “A superstar is where great talent and knowledge intersect with a great personal brand” (O’Brien, 2012). This memorable statement points out how the modern “ideal profile” now includes various components and is no longer restricted to hard skills. In her article “7 Things Successful Executive Job Seekers Know“, confirming the importance of personal branding and social media, Guiseppi also thoughtfully says: “Being social media savvy can be a qualifying skill set […] and your activity on social media provides recruiters social proof that you are who you say you are” (Guiseppi, 2014). However, the value of social media and personal branding is very often overlooked by graduates in their job search. Which is a terrible mistake, as social media plays an ever-growing role in the modern recruitment selection process.
5) High potential indicators and attributes
In today’s fast-paced professional environment, recruiters not only look for skills but also for high potential. Companies know that their market is changing all the time and that the best employees are the ones able to adapt, learn and teach fast. One recent research project by Martin and Schmidt (quoted in Scullion’s book) claims that successful high-potential candidates need to have the following attributes: “Intellectual, technical, but also emotional abilities. They should show as well a high degree of engagement (personal connection and commitment to the company). And finally, they must have a strong level of aspiration. Which is the desire for recognition, advancement, and future rewards” (Scullion et al., 2014, p. 85).
It is interesting to notice that most of these criteria are not centred around hard skills but soft-skills. You could also say that they are personality traits that are good indicators of whether someone will be a fast learner and a future company leader. More and more emphasis will be placed on these kinds of skills in the future; in our modern connected world, it has become more important to know how to learn fast than to know something that will be outdated in a few months. In his article “7 Must-Have Soft Skills For The Social Age“, Babbitt follows this reasoning and lists seven other “must-have soft-skills” as follows: “Relentless giving, social leadership, leading without permission, ambassadorship, enthusiasm for technology, collaboration and insatiable curiosity” (Babbitt, 2014).
Thank you so much for reading!
Please share your experience on this topic in the comments section. More insights from both recruiters and job seekers would be highly appreciated.
We are collecting data and insights for an educational project about recruiters’ use of Social Media. If you are a recruiter/headhunter, you can support our work by completing this online form: http://bit.ly/21fTUuQ
Best regards from the team.
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Babbitt, M. 2014, 7 Must-Have Soft Skills For The Social Age, Dash Coaching Ltd, Available from: http://bit.ly/1ARuslU. (Last accessed 12/2016).
Beals, J. (ed) 2009, Self Marketing Power: Branding Yourself as a Business of One., Kindle Edition edn, Keynote Publishing, LLC.
Guiseppi, M. 2014, 7 Things Successful Executive Job Seekers Know, LinkedIn Pulse, Available from: http://linkd.in/1HbO3hx. (Last accessed 12/2016).
O’Brien, T. 2012, Tim O’Brien: Personal Branding Seminar, California State University, Youtube.
Scullion, H., Sparrow, P. & Tarique, I. (eds) 2014, Strategic Talent Management. Contemporary Issues in International Context., 1st edn, Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom.