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Is it time to re-think employability?

In our last article we opened the conversation about how to find hidden talent by looking beyond the top five to 10% of candidates that every company is competing for. The benefits, as mentioned, can lead you to find skillsets you need as well as access talent you perhaps didn’t know were available to you.

Once you have decided to think differently about your approach to recruitment, it’s important to consider what that means in terms of the skills you’re looking for. If you’re considering a younger or more diverse demographic, not only do you need to look in different places, but you will likely also need to reconsider how you attract and interview prospective candidates as well.

That starts by asking the question:  

What are the desirable skills in the modern workplace and what makes someone employable?


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Desirable skills in the modern workplace

Desirable skills in the modern workplace involve thinking about what’s currently relevant, but also considering what’s needed in the workplace of the future. It’s no secret that many of the coveted skills tend to lean towards soft skills that are harder to teach and that are in essence more ‘human’ - with a view to some processing skills moving towards automation in an increasingly digital environment. 

Widely reported desirable skills for the future of work include mental resilience, problem solving, overcoming adversity, balancing multiple priorities, working within constraints, working as a team and empathy.

These are reflected in a report from McKinsey which identified a set of 56 foundational skills, broadly broken down into the following areas:


Cognitive skills

  • Critical thinking
  • Planning 
  • Communication skills
  • Mental flexibility 

Interpersonal skills

  • Mobilising systems
  • Developing relationships
  • Teamwork

Self-leadership skills

  • Self awareness and self management
  • Entrepreneurship 
  • Goal oriented
  • Digital skills

Digital fluency and citizenship

  • Software use and development
  • Understanding digital systems


In addition, research from EY found that skills that are in demand can be classed as: 

“System evaluation and analysis, mathematics, active listening, instructing, data analysis, data and digital literacy, and judgement and decision-making.”

The challenge and the opportunity with many of these skills is that individuals will likely already have them or develop them further over time, while more technical skills can be taught. However, it can be hard to identify if someone has the potential for these particular skills, especially if they come from an environment where such capabilities have not been nurtured or if they are not yet proficient at interviews and formal evaluation processes.

Your challenge is to not leave future talent at the door because of archaic selection criteria. How can you do that?



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Attracting and identifying diverse, talented, young people

We all have benchmarks for how we want a candidate to behave when they come to an interview or how they present themselves in a job application. 

The basics (being polite, being on time, being enthusiastic and so forth) are all things we look for. However, when we’re looking at different pools of talent, we have to consider that for some this may be their first interview and perhaps they are not yet out of education or have no formal training. Alternatively, perhaps their personal background has not given them every opportunity that they might need to develop the confidence for an interview. As a result, the parameters for identifying and onboarding new employees need to evolve.

There’s no single way to attract or identify diverse, talented young people to your business, but it does mean considering a number of things:

  • Advertising in different places in addition to your regular recruitment processes
  • Exploring different avenues for recruitment 
  • Presenting yourself and your job roles differently
  • Considering the job offering from a more nurturing perspective  
  • Reviewing interview and assessment processes - ask yourself, for example, how do you allow for someone who doesn't interview well? What does it mean to interview well?
  • Planning for a candidates supported development within their role (mentoring, coaching and short skills development courses)

For one, schools and universities have begun to work with companies and recruiters in order to facilitate more job opportunities for more young people. As a case in point, Manchester University’s award-winning First Generation Scholarship Programme identifies students across the North West who would be the first in their families to go to university. It is funded by the university as well as donors. Several corporate donors have funded scholarships to help improve representation in sectors that historically lack diversity. Sony, for example, has funded scholarships in digital and the creative arts, while Formula 1 supports a scholarship in engineering. 

Such vast programmes are not always possible for companies, and neither are they the only way to access different groups of people. Equally, not every candidate will have gone to university, and they too offer opportunities for businesses to find valuable new employees.

It’s an important part of the Sort platform that we help businesses to broaden their candidate pool with one in three candidates coming from a minority background, more than 50% coming from GenZ, and offering support on enhancing communication and reach with those groups of prospective employees.




The benefits of nurturing new talent

In our last article we touched on some of the benefits of nurturing new talent. While it does require different levels of investment, both in terms of time and resources, the benefits are rich and continue to evolve as the individual grows within their role, themselves and the company. To recap, some of the benefits include, but are not limited to: 

  • Creating an engaged and committed workforce (which tends to result in improved productivity, decreased staff turnover and better performance)
  • Nurturing a positive company culture
  • Building the skill sets that you want for now and in the future
  • Developing team loyalty
  • Accessing a different perspective that resonates with customers of the future

One of the really important and exciting things to understand about bringing young people into an industry is that how they develop is an unknown entity. While to some extent that can be anxiety making for businesses, it’s also an opportunity for those with open minds to reap the endless benefits of someone’s untapped potential. If you recruit someone who is already established in their role on the other hand, you are likely to get what you see and the opportunity for further development is limited.

In our next article in this series, we will be looking at the risks and barriers to hiring from a younger or more diverse pool of talent, and how to overcome them. We will also explore how reevaluating the measurements of hiring success can help future proof your hiring.


If you would like more information on how Sort supports businesses in finding the right candidate for the job, contact us any time. Alternatively, you can start posting your job for free today. 

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