The Art of War for Talent in the Digital Age

The war for talent is a term McKinsey researchers first introduced to the business world in 1997. They predicted that the most important corporate resource for the future would be talent. 20 years later, in the new digital and global economy, the war for talent is fierce and the trend is likely to continue, as demand for skilled workers increases due to the demographic shift.

Technology has changed the world, but the skills of the workforce haven’t quite evolved in the same pace. Companies have started to compete with each other to attract the most talented people to join their organization. The conversation revolves around the weapons in the war for talent, with a heavy emphasis on the importance of employer branding. War tactics like “hunt” and “lure” are the name of the game in the modern HR hiring techniques. The talk is around the symptoms, but rarely about the causes of the talent shortage.

It is time to ask the question nobody is asking: Where does talent come from? Why are companies consumed by fighting over the currently available talent and not thinking about how to get new talent into the labor market?

Everybody agrees that the demand for talent is high, but nobody is talking about the source of talent, where does it come from, can there be more? Because the truth is, the world is changing fast, as talent evolves so do companies, technology and the society.

Every master was once a beginner.
Every pro started as an amateur.
Every icon began as unknown.Robin Sharma

The millennial generation, born between 1980 and 2000, are now entering employment in vast numbers and they will shape the future of work. According to EY, 75% of the global workforce will be millennials by year 2015. The new generation of the global workforce is more independent, entrepreneurial and mobile than any generation before. Despite all the bad press and negative stereotypes about millennials, they are the answer to the talent shortage. They are the future talent.

There are many websites where experts with years or decades of experience can look for jobs; there’s LinkedIn, a platform where they can show their career highlights, and where headhunters are actively scanning profiles of seasoned professionals. For millennials, who are in the early stages of their career, LinkedIn can seem intimidating. Many of them will not join the network simply because they feel like it’s not a place for them. In an official study done by LinkedIn in May 2016, it was revealed that only 38% of their user base are millennials. 12% of them are working in decision making positions. The findings are surprising, since millennials are everywhere else on social media.

The main demographic for LinkedIn is 35+ and it’s currently one of the main tools for “fighting” over talent in that demographic. But what about the young professionals who are now entering the job market? Many educated and talented young professionals are hard to reach through LinkedIn, because they choose not to be on that platform at all. They make their own rules about where they are active online and what they want in a job. Millennials seem to be less motivated by career advancement and more by personal values and aspirations. PwC revealed one major aspiration of the generation: 71% of millennials want to work abroad during their career.

This is where Wanderwork steps in to fill a gap in the market. We want to create a global impact and lead the development of the next generation of global workforce. Wanderwork aims to be the leading marketplace for students and recent graduates to find internships and job opportunities both locally and internationally. Going back to the question in the beginning: where does talent come from? We should be looking to students and see the enormous potential to become the new top talent. Forward looking companies should invest in internships and training programs for junior employees, this is the source for their future talent. In addition, companies should understand that the future talent are global citizens, they are looking for employment opportunities across the globe, not only the city they were born in. New challenges arise from this. Where to advertise positions to the early career professionals who are eager to relocate for a certain period? How can students and recent graduates become aware of the companies and job/internship opportunities from outside their local market?

Wanderwork connects the dots

We offer a digital platform specifically tailored to the students and graduates of higher education. They create their profiles which double as CVs and can seek professional development opportunities across geographic locations and become discoverable by recruiters. For employers, this opens up a whole new channel to source and recruit from an international and diverse talent pool of young professionals. With Wanderwork, businesses can be one step ahead of the rest, who are still fighting the old war, by having access to the emerging talent of the modern job market.

The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.Sun Tzu

About the author

Sandra Lusmägi

Sandra is the co-founder and CEO of Wanderwork. She is passionate about connecting the best university talent with amazing job opportunities across the globe. Helping people and businesses to work together across countries, cultures and languages.