Talent Then Vs. Talent Now: What’s Changed?

Employers all want the best talent on their teams, but what does “talent” mean, exactly? Just as the definition of a learner has changed over the past decade or so, our views of the talent and skills our team members bring to their work have also undergone some changes. Formerly, our notions of talent included things like:

  • demonstrable, technical skills
  • specialized knowledge
  • previous experience in a similar role or field
  • job and industry-specific training and certification

No doubt, employers still seek all of these things, and they all still carry weight in any field, but the 21st century job market requires more from workers. The same position (even at the same company) can change drastically over time. New positions are created on a regular basis, with a whole new set of necessary skills. Both job seekers and current team members now need to focus on and cultivate durable skills (formerly “soft skills”). Our definition of “talent” in the 21st century needs to include:

  • critical thinking skills
  • communication and interpersonal skills
  • creativity
  • collaboration
  • social and emotional intelligence
  • inquiry
  • a variety of literacies, including technological, global, media, and more.

In essence, talent in the 21st century doesn’t just hinge on solely on being an expert in one particular area, but also being willing and able to pivot and adapt, to grow and expand. Being talented now is about knowing how to think, instead of just what to think.

The big questions is how to attract and hold onto this new kind of talent. Just as it’s a challenge to teach these skills in school, it can be a challenge to identify them in potential hires, and to cultivate them in current employees. Successful companies need to weave this new view of talent into:

  • their application and interview process
  • onboarding practices
  • everyday work activities
  • team-building exercises
  • social events and recreational activities
  • professional development
  • social media and online presence

21st century talent is all about seeing what someone could be, and will need to be, in addition to what they are. It’s about future-readiness, innovation, and lifelong learning.

Ready to upgrade your company’s version of talent? Contact us!