Forget the war for talent

Published: 4 July 2017
Forget the war for talent

Articles and comments on the ‘war for talent’ continue to be published at a relentless pace. Companies, head-hunters and everyone else within the talent eco-system are fighting a long running and seemingly un-winnable battle. The current demand for ‘digital’ pioneers and data scientists follows hot on the heels of ‘commercially’ driven CFO’s and CTO’s of the noughties. In some instances the ‘flavour of the year’ unicorns can be attracted to businesses, but in almost every case businesses secure a candidate who only meets a percentage of the desired brief. The question therefore is how quickly can the candidates adapt to the role, or the business adapt to the candidate?

Adaptation is the fundamental building block of life. As with many species, businesses have ceased to exist due to a failure to adapt in a changing world. Candidates are no different and must display a willingness and desire to continuously evolve their skill set or face being left behind. A common current example is the phrase ‘I don’t do technology’. It should be banished from all aspiring executives; it is akin to saying ‘I don’t do numbers’. 

Each side of this equation however must contribute. When speaking to TEC businesses about commercial and operational leaders we often hear ‘it would be nice if they could code or at least have an appreciation of code’ - a better request might be  ‘how quickly do you think they could learn basic coding?’. Online coding courses are cheap, highly effective and in the TEC sector (and in my opinion every sector) absolutely as relevant as ‘finance for non-finance managers’; a course rightly attended by many aspiring executives.

A curious, well equipped mind with a strong work ethic is almost always worth more than an exact ‘paper match’ and should be valued as such. To be clear this is not a moan about L&D, it is about candidates and business identifying the rapid requirement for adaptation; businesses need to enable it and candidates need to embrace it. If we can engender adaptation as a principle, companies can reduce time spent on the ‘talent battlefield’ and candidates can look forward to the rapidly evolving opportunities in the future jobs market.

Callum Wallace is a Consultant in the Technology Leadership Practice at Berwick Partners

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