4 key considerations in your hunt for talent

Wednesday 19th October, 2016

Talent. It’s the element that makes a critical difference to organisational performance. Every great strategy, sporting win, technological and scientific breakthrough begins in the mind of someone who is talented. Which is why the pursuit of top talent is a constant focus for the leading organisations that fundamentally understand the criticality of having the right people.

Talent is easy to spot when you work with them. There is a fluidity of performance, simplification of complexity and ease of execution that happens when talented people are at work. When you are sourcing externally however, how do you identify talent in a sea of people and reliably predict their future performance?

Here are 4 key considerations when it comes to sourcing external talent:

1 – Runway Does the person's career present development opportunities in the long term?

A career runway should contain a stable background (solid foundations are always good) as well as room for future growth. Has there been a stable, grounding path behind them or has the path been littered with inconsistencies? Have they been promoted by previous employers? Talent does not stagnate, consistent vertical movement with any single employer is always a good sign. Too many unplanned horizontal movements ring alarm bells, but going up means they can get even better.

2 Technical Ability The output of technical knowhow

Be aware that whilst technical skills, being readily measurable, have always been the starting point, softer – less tangible – traits have become the defining difference between an average employee and someone who is well-rounded and stands out. The softer traits such as confidence, sociability and loyalty (to name but a few) don’t translate well on paper and get lost between technical jargon, but are key to finding real talent. What are the things you have to look for before you can get to the softer skills?

Do they have the skills, abilities and knowledge to perform the task at hand? This is not to be confused with a checklist of expertise required. Look beyond qualifications, team management, budget size, and P&L and, instead, at the output of these skills. Did they manage, or did they lead a team through an innovative, cost-effective transformation? Did they develop a program, policy, or procedure, or implement someone else's? How have they used their skill-set and how has it grown from previous positions?

3 – Agility Can they cope with serious change?

Have they demonstrated the ability to adapt readily and dependably to business changes? The more adaptable and versatile a person is the better they are equipped to cope with a wider range of transitions. Individual agility enables a business to be more efficient, innovative and sustainable despite changing internal/external situations.

Has the person gained experience and skill-set across different industries? Have they changed companies steadily, or have they had exposure to diverse business units and roles at the same organisation? Other identifiers of agility include international experience, or secondments enabling exposure to alternative processes, challenges and structures.

4 – Alignment Does the person align with your organisation’s strategy, values and goals?

This is more difficult to read on a resume but solid tenures at previous companies, realising goals, creating initiatives, and having noteworthy achievements are all indications of an accomplished employee. An ambitious individual seeks achievements and this means seeing the organisation through success.

Additionally, cultural fit is an essential consideration, so it’s beneficial to understand the employee's previous company culture. A person from a hierarchical organisation structure might not have a seamless transition into a flatter organisation. They might come from a highly independent and autonomous culture and find a strongly collective team culture a difficult adjustment.

Business success begins and ends with great talent, or lack thereof, so look beyond the obvious. Invest some time, take more than position titles into consideration when assessing someone’s profile because sometimes the key to finding talent is in the detail.


Stephanie Tucceri is a research associate at Evolve Intelligence. Please follow this link to read her blog on how to write a standout LinkedIn profile.