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by Michael Murphy / November 7, 2019

Every business in the industry wants to find and hire the top talent available. They want the brightest, most skillful, and most value-adding professionals who believe in the company mandate and fit perfectly into the company culture. Needless to say, that’s a pretty tall order, especially considering the talent crunch with all-time-low unemployment rates and freelancers occupying an interestingly hard-to-reach section of the job market.

But ask yourself this: What exactly does your hiring process consider to be “talent?” Is talent just another flattering word for skilled professionals, or does it actually mean someone who has a special knack for the job and the ability to learn a certain kind of work at high speeds? Businesses everywhere are struggling to hire in the midst of the War for Talent, but at the same time young fast-learning freelancers with patchy job histories are being turned away right and left.


Hiring for Potential Creates the Next Top Talent

According to a widespread Stack Overflow survey, 87% of modern tech professionals taught themselves a new language, framework, or tool without a formal course, but only 36% receive formal on-the-job training and 57% have less than five years of professional experience. Over 50% are below 35 years old. And yet, these are the top tech talent of today. This is just a glimpse into the hottest and most in-demand segment of today’s professionals, but it reveals a profound trend in the new job market: Today’s top talent may not look like what you’re expecting in the hiring process.

Tech isn’t the only demographic that has a not-so-traditional difference between talent, skill, and formal resume-worthy experience. Many millennials — now between 22 and 37, did not finish college, didn’t go to college, or got a degree in something completely unrelated to their currently most marketable skills. Many spent years making a living freelancing alone or with a team, many spend time swapping between entrepreneurial projects and formal jobs, creating a patchwork resume that is disconcerting to traditionally-minded hiring managers.

And yet, these are today’s top talent. If you’ve been hiring for experience, it’s time to start hiring for potential. Today’s top talent learns fast, but they’re not locked down to any one technology or skillset. Today’s top talent, including the Gen Y’s coming quickly into their own professional years, are more talented than they are formally trained. So here lies your opportunity.


How to Identify Talent in the Hiring Process

The key is to know the difference between a dedicated self-learner who is your full-of-potential talent from dreamers who talk a big game. This task has, admittedly, become more challenging in recent years because dedication is taking whole new forms. The key is in the learning curve.

The next time you’re considering resumes, look for signs of a self-starter. Look for how the technology used in each listed position changes without education or coursework mentioned. Look for someone who has survived as a freelancer and grown despite their irregular history of working for employers.

But most importantly, know how to conduct interviews with someone who might be all-potential without the training or history you’re used to seeing. This is one of the reasons why technical demonstrations and simulated projects have become a huge hit in cutting-edge hiring. If someone doesn’t have direct experience with your specific technology or process, that doesn’t mean they can’t learn. 

In fact, when you’ve got a candidate whose entire history is based on teaching themselves new things and thriving, there’s a good chance you’re about to hire someone with the potential to become a rockstar in your field. If you’re willing to give them a chance.


Hiring for Cultural Fit

The other half of the equation, beyond raw talent and self-teaching capabilities, is cultural fit. In order to find someone who will stay with your business and become your rockstar rather than simply launching off from the training you’ve given them, you need someone who will love to work with your team and can be passionate about the work you do.

Fortunately, most hiring managers are more experienced at hiring for cultural fit than they are at spotting raw talent ready to be molded into an industry-leading professional. Hiring for cultural fit, in this case, often involves feeling out how passionate the professional is about your business’ mission statement and the type of work they’ll be doing.

Often, hiring managers looking to build a team of synergistic talent will also bring in the current team late in the hiring process to see how a finalist candidate meshes with their potential new teammates. If they can work on a demo project together in harmony and clearly boost each other’s performance and morale, then you’ve got a winner. Not everyone will be a perfect fit, but synergy with the team really helps with the process.


Nurturing Potential Into Top-Talent Professionals

Of course, hiring is never the end of the story, especially when you’re hiring for potential. When you find a young professional full of energy and deeply self-powered drive, that potential is in your hands. As the employer, you have the opportunity to mold their adaptability, raw talent, and dedication into the kind of top-talent professional you were dreaming of at the hiring stage. There may not be a legendary network administrator applying for your positions, but you can train one from potential and talent right within your walls.

All the currently industry-acclaimed professionals in your field might be locked down by big corporations or running their own entrepreneurial businesses, but your business can become the home to the next industry-acclaimed pro. The key here is to track their progress and professionally nurture their skills using advanced HR and payroll software. With the right tech stack as provided by the Platinum Group, you can keep track of every achievement and every quickly learned new skill as the talented professional full of potential you hired grows into a respectable industry pro — possibly even top of the industry in their own right.

If your hiring pool of professionals seems a little small, maybe you’re just looking in the wrong place. Using the Platinum Group’s professional HR and payroll software, you can up your game in identifying potential-rich talent and then nurturing them to industry-acclaimed success within your business.

Platinum Group is a full service human capital management (HCM) resource that allows businesses to manage their payroll, benefits compliance, track time and attendance and other various human resources functions in a way that maximizes efficiency and eliminates redundancies with the platform, iSolved. For more information about Platinum Group or to schedule a demo of iSolved please visit our website.

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Tags: Talent Acquisition HR

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Michael Murphy

Michael Murphy

Michael is the founder of Platinum Group. His passion is in helping businesses to simplify their employee management and accounting processes.