5 Ways the New War For Talent Will Change the Workplace Forever

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There’s a new war for talent. Even while some victims of the recession are still out of a job, workers with in-demand skills like programming and web design can work wherever they want and command a huge salary.

Companies are literally fighting a war every day to keep this talent in their organization – and to steal more skilled workers from the competition. If you think this is blowing things out of proportion, consider this: a recruiting firm sent 150 baskets of cookies to employees at social-game-creator Zynga to let them know they want to chat about opportunities at other companies. They didn’t send those baskets to their homes; they sent them to the Zynga office. Talk about brazen!

As the economy continues to recover, as Baby Boomers continue to retire, and as the gap between the skills companies need and the skills most people have continues to grow, this war for talent will only intensify. The companies who see this coming and are prepared to do what it takes to hire and retain the right people will survive and even thrive in this new war for talent. The companies who play the wait-and-see game will be in big trouble.

5 predictions on how things will change

This new war for talent will lead to major changes in the workplace. Here are five predictions for how it will change things forever.

1. Companies will begin teaching practical skills to employees, job candidates and anyone else who wants to learn.

As companies recognize the need to train talent, develop skills and retain employees, talent management and training and development are becoming even more critical for most successful organizations. Companies will become increasingly focused on developing their internal talent through professional education and non-stop feedback.

However, as the skills gap continues to widen, this will actually go a step further, and employers will begin teaching and offering practical skills-based education to anyone who wants to learn. Whether it’s a job applicant or someone who just wants to grow professionally, everyone is a potential employee, so it makes sense from an employer branding and a recruiting perspective that companies offer this type of training to any interested party. A great example of how this is playing out right now is Living Social’s Hungry Academy.

2. The higher education institutions most resistant to change will collapse, the most forward-thinking institutions will re-invent the system and the cost of education will drop radically.

College – particularly the cost of college – is under fire. Occupy Wall Street showed the world just how much anger there is over rising costs and the subsequent student loans that prevent graduates from doing what they love.

Everywhere you look, you see new startups claiming to reinvent education, vying for a piece of this massive market. It’s inevitable that today’s notion of going to college for four years — and $150,000 — will change. The institutions that expect to stay relevant will have to do a much better job of preparing students for the workplace, and investing serious time and resources into improving their career centers. The question is: how fast will things change, and what exactly will this future look like?

These are enormous questions, and yet one thing is for sure: the institutions that survive will adapt to the new reality, and the ones that don’t will die.

3. The new “talent” will be life-long learners. The war for talent used to mean finding the most educated and most experienced people to work for you. But the new war for talent is a war for skills, a war for bright people who are constantly curious.

As technology continues to evolve and new skills become relevant overnight, it will be impossible for anyone to have all of the skills that a company needs at any given time. So the people you should be most interested in hiring are the people who want to learn and want to grow.

These are the people who will be motivated to learn the new skills a company needs on their own, the people who will actually take advantage of training and development opportunities. New tools will pop up to help identify these people, and the best recruiters will be obsessed with hiring these life-long learners.

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4. Resumes will finally become irrelevant. As employers continue to recognize that the best hires do not necessarily have a college degree or relevant experience but are constantly curious generalists willing to learn what matters today, resumes will continue to become a poor judge of candidate.

We’ve been moving in this direction for years, but now more than ever, it’s nearly impossible to pick up a piece of paper or even a Linkedin profile and make a decision on whether a job candidate is worth interviewing.

The best way to know if someone is curious, driven and relevant is to ask them tough questions and find out what they read, what they’ve learned at their last position, and how they seek self improvement in their spare time.

5. Job boards will adapt or die as the resume is replaced by the instant need for personal communication between recruiter and candidate.

As resumes become increasingly irrelevant, the next industry to die or reinvent itself will be the job board. We’re already watching companies like Monster lay off hundreds of employees and put themselves up for sale. It’s pretty obvious that spraying and praying by clicking “apply” and hoping to hear back from employers is a broken process that leads to nothing but frustration by candidates and recruiters alike.

The new online job search is all about instant personal communication between recruiter and candidate. A combination of smart matching technology and “old-school” recruiting practices where a candidate is allowed to actually talk with a recruiter at the beginning of the process is the near future of this industry. My company, Brazen Careerist, is already testing this theory with our online recruiting events and seeing huge demand.

A very real war for talent is about to slap us all in the face – and it’s time to be prepared. The companies that are ready can use this transition to their advantage and come out on top as the next Apple or Google or Facebook.

The ones that don’t? They’ll likely find themselves out of business.

Ryan Healy is the Co-Founder and COO of Brazen Careerist. He was named one of 20 entrepreneurs to watch by Worth Magazine, one of the top 25 online influencers in recruiting by HR Examiner, and has appeared on 60 Minutes, 20/20, CNN and The New York Times as an expert on the young workforce. Back at the office, Ryan and the Brazen Careerist team can be found creating transformative recruiting and HR products for organizations who understand that talent is their single most critical asset. You can email him at ryan@brazencareerist.com and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/rjhealy.