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Geoff Colvin Fortune Magazine

January 23, 2018 by Speakers' Spotlight

Navigating Today’s Job Market

Millions of eyes and ears count on―and respect―Geoff Colvin’s insights on the key issues driving change in business, politics, and the economy. The senior editor of Fortune magazine, and named by Directorship Magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential Figures in Corporate Governance,” Colvin draws on his years of insider access to top government figures and high-profile executives to share effective leadership strategies, and provides his unparalleled perspective on the business climate of today…and tomorrow.

Colvin’s also the author of the February 2018 Fortune cover story on profiting from a tight job market—how to come out on top when companies are fighting tooth and nail for talent and how that’s changing how hiring practices are working.

Here are some highlighted excerpts:

A Boom Is Coming 

Time was when recruiters at Intuit, the software company that makes TurboTax and QuickBooks, could ask job candidates back for multiple interviews before making a decision. Not now. “We don’t have that time anymore,” says HR chief Sherry Whiteley. Competition for excellent candidates has become so brutal that “we’ve had to reinvent how we do recruiting.” Using a team of employees who have proved themselves sharp judges of talent, the company puts candidates through a day of interviews and tests. Then the team convenes and makes a decision. “A lot of times we’ll bring people in, and they get same-day offers. We’ve had to do it,” says Whiteley, who adds, “Recruiting keeps me up at night.”

Watch and learn: The war for talent that obsesses tech companies is intensifying and is about to spread economywide. After almost nine years of mostly sluggish expansion, the U.S. economy has shifted into a higher gear and is creating jobs at a record pace. “The new year has started with a job market as robust as any in recent years,” reports the Korn Ferry recruiting firm. Indeed.com, the most widely used job site, says, “Get ready for a hiring boom.” With the labor market tighter than it has been in decades, workers who’ve been yearning to change jobs finally have their moment.

Employers Are Rethinking What Makes a Good Hire

As employers are forced to confront what really makes employees successful today, what skills and traits are they seeking in candidates? This may be a great environment in which to find a new job, but you’ll likely still face competition. On what basis will you be judged?

One of the qualities employers most value now is called grit—the fortitude, insight, and ability to adapt on the fly that often comes from overcoming adversity or disadvantage in life, as Ellen McGirt explains in the feature “How Your Life Experience Could Help You Land a Great Job.”

Another hot word is “potential.” It isn’t as obvious as it sounds. Our résumé-based model of evaluating job candidates assumes that what you’ll be doing in your next job is at least broadly similar to what you did in your last one. But employers increasingly find that in a continually disrupted business environment, what you’ll be doing next bears little relation to anything you’ve done before. With today’s employees, as with mutual funds, “past performance is not the best indicator of future success,” says Rajeev Vasudeva, CEO of the Egon Zehnder executive recruiting firm. “Clients want somebody with a great track record, but that may not predict a great future.”

Soft Skills and Purpose Are Increasingly Important

“The whole human side is now more important than skills or IQ,” says Vasudeva of Egon Zehnder. “Everything we hear from clients is about the human aspects of leadership: vulnerability, humility.” Across industries, employers are prizing people skills, the so-called soft skills, more highly than before. Even in strictly defined technology jobs, employers are increasingly looking for “soft skills and leadership abilities,” says the Robert Half firm, adding that “many employers now view these skills as requirements for some IT roles.”

The objectives of those human skills in companies today are clear. One is “making people feel they’re part of an organization that matters,” says Jason Baumgarten, a search consultant at Spencer Stuart. That’s because today’s best candidates “want to make a difference. They’re very purpose-driven,” says Intuit’s Whiteley, an observation widely echoed. Another objective is “building an emotional connection” with followers, says Vasudeva, citing a recent study of 500 CEOs worldwide that his firm conducted. Without that, followers won’t follow. As Baumgarten puts it, “Today people work for you because they want to, not because they have to.”

Read the full story at Fortune.