The talent marketplace – Who holds the power?
I am playing with ideas about the future of work. It’s something that has been on my mind for several years now. I have experienced at first hand how depressing limited job options can be.
My vision is that tomorrow’s employees will be much more in control as the demand for talent increases. Being in control means empowerment for people’s lives.
Companies choose talents
Today most job ads describe the workplace, the tasks, responsibility, career options and the qualifications required. They tell people what this job was about in the past or what the employer expects of your future job. If you think you fit, you will apply for the job.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get an interview. If you are even luckier, your future employer also has the impression you’ll fit in that job role and give you the job.
Here in Germany, things are slightly more complicated than in other countries. Employers start by not looking at your most recent experience, but at what your original qualification was when you started your first job or graduated from college or university. It doesn’t matter that this could be 30 years ago or more. It is still considered your leading qualification.
Whatever you did in the last 30 years of professional experience is secondary. Changing your career when you are 40 or even older is considered a questionable inconsistency in your development. So whatever you’ve proven you could do with all your experience is worthless if you didn’t get the right certificates in the first place.
People develop but HR doesn’t care
This system ignores all development people go through in their lives. You might have started in financial services and controlling but acquired new skills over the years. Many employers don’t care. You are limited back to what you started doing when you were young.
That doesn’t mater much as long as you stay in one company or enterprise. It will only concern you when you want to move on. Maybe that is one reason why people here are so fixated on keeping their jobs even when they’re unhappy. Another could be the myth of everlasting social security.
Studies show that many people these days would love to change jobs more easily. Employees would prefer a system that allows or even motivates them to look for and do a job they love rather than something they graduated in many moons ago. They want to have a job related to their passion and beliefs, things that keep changing.
Companies today usually can’t cope with this rhythm of change. That is part of what we talk about when we talk about agile structures! Those studies which deal with visions of future work models describe an entirely different approach to work.
My vision: A talent marketplace
My vision is that many people, especially knowledge workers will no longer reply to generic job descriptions for long-term engagements. Instead they will be part of a talent marketplace where companies have to find and attract the right people for short-term or mid-term employment.
They will have to describe exactly which skills they need and pick from currently available skills no matter how and when they developed. So if they’re looking for a UX developer, they can’t insist on a structured education path in the past but have to verify and accept the available skill.
Employees and employers will agree on temporary contracts for the length of the project. To attract talent, companies will have to win a beauty contest. Like universities around the world, they’ll have to offer the most attractive working environment, most flexibility and the best perks to attract talent.
Rigid structures, complex processes or ancient means of communication (like email) will scare high potentials off. Companies will have to make every possible effort to become as attractive as they can be. There will be no more place for resting on their laurels.
Employees own the knowledge
A significant change will come with such a work model: Employees will own the knowledge. Whatever they learn in their jobs they will take with them when they leave. There will be no chance — and no need in the long term — for companies to build a structured knowledge base.
Whatever skills companies need they will have to buy in the marketplace. We can also expect that workers will share, reflect, adjust and extend their knowledge with other members of the talent marketplace in the future.
So knowledge will prosper outside the restricting boundaries of enterprises and workers will decide whether a company will benefit from their knowledge.
My knowledge is my kingdom will disappear. Talented people will understand that they can develop only with the help of others who will then benefit from shared knowledge themselves.
Companies will have to make sure that they provide the flexible structures for this kind of work model. HR departments have to understand what it takes to attract and retain top potential. The most successful companies will be the ones that keep winning that beauty contest.