Career Guide

5 ways the new war for talent will change the workplace forever

There is a new war for talent. Even while many are still out of a job, workers with in-demand skills like programming and web design can work wherever they want and command a huge salary.

Companies are literally fighting a war every day to keep this talent in their organisation – and to steal more skilled workers from the competition. If you think this is blowing things out of proportion, consider this: a recruiting firm sent 150 baskets of cookies to employees at social-game-creator Zynga to let them know they want to chat about opportunities at other companies. They didn’t send those baskets to their homes; they sent them to the Zynga office. Talk about brazen!

As the economy continues to recover, as Baby Boomers continue to retire, and as the gap between the skills companies need and the skills most people have continue to grow, this war for talent will only intensify. The companies who see this coming and are prepared to do what it takes to hire and retain the right people will survive and even thrive in this new war for talent. The companies who play the wait-and-see game will be in big trouble.

This new war for talent will lead to major changes in the workplace. Here are five predictions for how it will change things forever.

1 Companies will begin teaching practical skills to employees, job candidates and anyone else who wants to learn

As companies recognise the need to train talent, develop skills and retain employees, talent management and training and development will become even more critical for successful organisations. Companies will become increasingly focused on developing their internal talent through professional education and non-stop feedback.

However, as the skills gap continues to widen, this will actually go a step further, and employers will begin teaching and offering practical skills-based education to anyone who wants to learn. Whether it’s a job applicant or someone who just wants to grow professionally, everyone is a potential employee, so it makes sense from an employer branding and a recruiting perspective that companies offer this type of training to any interested party. A great example of how this is playing out right now is Living Social’s Hungry Academy.

2 The higher education institutions approach to learning will change

The most forward-thinking institutions will re-invent their learning eco-system. Everywhere you look, you see new startups claiming to reinvent education, and this will spur traditional institutions to stay relevant and do a much better job of preparing students for the workplace, and investing serious time and resources into improving their career centers. The question is: how fast will things change, and what exactly will this future look like?

3 The new “talent” will be life-long learners

The “war for talent” used to mean finding the most educated and most experienced people to work for you. But the new war for talent is a war for skills, a war for bright people who are constantly curious.

As technology continues to evolve and new skills become relevant overnight, it will be impossible for anyone to have all of the skills that a company needs at any given time. So the people you should be most interested in hiring are the people who want to learn and want to grow.

These are the people who will be motivated to learn the new skills a company needs on their own, the people who will actually take advantage of training and development opportunities. New tools will pop up to help identify these people, and the best recruiters will be obsessed with hiring these life-long learners.

4 Resumes will finally become irrelevant

As employers continue to recognise that the best hires do not necessarily have a degree or relevant experience but are constantly curious generalists willing to learn what matters today, resumes will continue to become a poor judge of a candidate.

We’ve been moving in this direction for years, but now more than ever, it’s nearly impossible to pick up a piece of paper or even a Linkedin profile and make a decision on whether a job candidate is worth interviewing.

The best way to know if someone is curious, driven and relevant is to ask them tough questions and find out what they read, what they’ve learned at their last position, and how they seek self improvement in their spare time.

5 The resume is replaced by personal communication between recruiter and candidate

As resumes become increasingly irrelevant, the next industry to have to reinvent itself will be the job board. It’s pretty obvious that spraying and praying by clicking “apply” and hoping to hear back from employers is a broken process that leads to nothing but frustration by candidates and recruiters alike.

The new online job search is all about instant personal communication between recruiter and candidate. A combination of smart matching technology and “old-school” recruiting practices where a candidate is allowed to actually talk with a recruiter at the beginning of the process is the near future of this industry.

A very real war for talent is about to slap us all in the face – and it’s time to be prepared. The companies that are ready can use this transition to their advantage and come out on top. The ones that don’t? They’ll likely find themselves out of business.

Ryan Healy is the Co-Founder and COO of Brazen Careerist. He was named one of 20 entrepreneurs to watch by Worth Magazine, one of the top 25 online influencers by HR Examiner, and has appeared on 60 Minutes, 20/20, CNN and The New York Times as an expert on the young workforce. To discuss this article, email