What talents are looking for in a job

Tagit: HR, Ohjelmistokehitys, Pilvipalvelut / SaaS, Asiantuntijapalvelut, IT, Konsultointi, Koulutus, Ohjelmisto, companyculture, culturebasedhiring

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Let’s first clarify the term “talent” as it is described by Wikipedia: Talent is the specific skill someone has that makes it very natural for them to do something that others find difficult or hard. It is a high degree of ability or aptitude someone is born with. We can have talent for sports, writing, playing an instrument, or for skills that are in high demand at work.

When we have a talent for something, let’s say learning new skills very fast, it doesn’t mean we don’t need to study the skill, it just means, we learn it much quicker than the regular Joe, and not only that, but we are typically able to adapt that skill more widely in various circumstances, than the regular Joe.

When we talk about
talents at work, we talk about certain people that are characterized by the skills, but especially the attitude and the ability to catch up, and take on tasks that are in a high value at our company and company culture. What we consider a talent at our company may not be a talent in another company, but there are certain characteristics that are industry or company independent, that are recognized in all people we call “a talent”. These always have to do with attitude.

The war of talent

I’m sure most people have come across the term “war of talents”. It illustrates the demand on those specific skills and aptitudes companies are eager to hire. It also illustrates the talent being a scarce resource. Not everyone is considered a talent unfortunately. That’s why there is always and forever a war of talent, and this is a war where the talent always wins.

Everybody wants to hire the talent

Obviously so. But the talent can choose, and they are picky. What are you as en employer doing better to deserve the talent? Do you know who is your talent? Unfortunately many employers think they rule the game. Well you don’t. We don’t. We have to work very hard to provide the kind of environment and future that is exciting enough for the talent. And don’t think we are in an isolation! No matter how hard we work on being the most attractive employer and giving the best possible employee experiences, there are always other companies doing the same, and probably even more. I know back in the days, there were times when employers were the ones ruling the roster; when it was enough just to hand a pay slip at the end of the month. When people were just glad they had a job, and trusted the authority blindly. Many employers still fool themselves thinking this is how it still is. Well, the talents have got news for us. And if we don’t listen, well, they move on to someone who will.

What the talent wants

In most cases, the talent does not want money. They want a rightful compensation against their productivity, but money is not a key driver for them. Not even for the top sales talent like this picture from Glassdoor.com shows.

*See the relevant picture by Glassdoor.com "What the sales people are looking for when evaluating a new job"


Talents are interested in:

  • Future and career opportunities
  • Purpose of work
  • Learning and developing
  • Getting and being challenged
  • Supportive and appreciative leadership
  • Feeling worthy
  • Other talents to work together with
  • A brand and products / services to be proud of
  • Work-life -balance (matching their personal needs)
How to spot a Talent

I’ll describe you one talent I have a pleasure to work with.

This person is hungry. Hungry to learn and to develop their skills. This person yearns more and more opportunities to test themselves and their boundaries. This person get’s upset if they feel others are more busy than they are, because it is important for them to contribute at least as much, but often more than that. This person doesn’t set limits to what they are willing to do. Everything is a learning opportunity.

This person is eager. This person is not using their job description as a limitation to what they can do or are willing to do.

This person is a team player. This person thinks about others in the group. They go beyond their role. They always chip in and offer their help, or just do before one even has the chance to ask. When one asks, it’s already been taken care of! Often I wish others would recognize it, chip in too, and not take this person’s spirit for granted.

This person is trustworthy and loyal. You know they will always put the customers, the company and the good of the team first.

Even though a talent will obviously develop skills and competencies, and most likely become very good at something, being a talent is so much more about the attitude than the work history and education. The equation is always more than the sum of it’s parts. A talent may just as well be a junior, right out of school, or a senior with an impressive track record, or someone highly skilled in a certain field. It’s always all about the attitude. A talent is never finished.

At the end, this person in my team will always get rewarded. Because this person is a Talent, and a talent’s attitude will always take them further than the regular Joe’s. Because a Talent deserves everything that comes their way. They work hard for it. Everyday.

What talents are looking for in a job?


Talents are picky. They can be, because their attitude (especially when already equipped with special skills and competencies) makes them a valuable catch on the job market. They are not willing to just give, they also want things in return. But most often those things are not the kinds of things us employers tend to think. The first thing the talent is looking for is not money. Compensation for a talent is a means of understanding your worthy to your employer. If they feel under appreciated, they start to evaluate their compensation. You spot a talent when they are more interested in the opportunities and challenges you can offer them, who they work with, how you work together, how you treat your customers, what kind of experiences you as an employer, as a company, as a leader and as a member of the society offer for your stakeholders.

It really is not about the money. Think Google. For years Google was not able to pay no where near the top salaries for the talents they needed and wanted desperately to hire. But their mission, their purpose, their drive, their passion, their commitment was so appealing and so attractive top talents in the industry took even 50% pay cuts to get a job with Google.

Talents are looking for companies that have a mission, a purpose that meets their values and drivers. Talents want to feel part of a team, a group, so they tend to look for companies that have above average reputation in the camaraderie (team spirit) section. Talents are always looking for learning opportunities. So a company culture where people are encouraged and supported to learn through doing and there error is not immediately punished is an attractive environment for a talent. Talents need a mission. A mission is a driving force for them. They want to be part of putting a stamp on something. That’s what they get their kicks off.

For a talent to understand where the company is going in the short term as well as in the long run helps them understand how they might fit in, and what opportunities there may be on the way. This helps a talent to commit. When a talent sees a future, they are more willing to pitch in here and there, because they see their contribution helping the company to move forward.

Talents are looking for the right kind of company culture to support their way of working, their values, their drivers, their passion, their competencies and their needs.

For an employer, the best thing we can do is to be open about what our company culture is, and how we operate internally. We cannot and we should not try to change our ways for individuals. We are what we are, and we should work on being better and stronger in those areas of our culture that are a strength to us. And then let the outside world know who and what we are. There will always be talents who match our culture, who will be the missing piece of the puzzle for us. Not thinking this is important is like trying to jam a wrong piece to a hole in a puzzle. It bloody won’t fit in.

Talent Employers

Well done, if you thought this is something worth while looking into! It’s ok if you don’t really know what it means yet, or how to go about. We can help you with that. To find and keep your talents, your company and you as a leader must have the right attitude too. This attitude is that of a talent employer.

A talent employer is equal in their talent of persevering in the leadership department. It’s never about being the perfect leader and a perfect employer. It’s about being a human being, and treating your people like they were your children. And this in no way means you treat them like children. This means you care for and love them like they were your family. That you think about their well being, their future, their best, and guide them through their career steps.

A talent organization is never ready. Like Google, a talent organization’s mission is something that has no end to it. You can never reach the end. That’s why you keep going forward, learning more, seeing new opportunities, adapting all your experiences and skills to new possibilities. A talent, talent employer and a talent organization are crafted from the same wood.

A talent employer and a talent organization is what a talent is looking for. And like the talent is never ready, but always humble and eager to be better, to learn more, to know more, to chip in, the talent employer and a talent organization are the same. You can decide are you in or are you out. And if you think this is nonsense, well thanks for making more room for us who work hard to be talent employers and talent organizations.

Final words:

This my person. This person means everything to me and my company. Without people like this person, my company would always be just an average company. But it’s not. Because I have the pleasure of working with people like this person.

If you are employing a lot of sales people, this Glassroom article is worth reading >>

Written by Susanna Rantanen
Continue discussion on Twitter:
@RantanenSusanna
@CareerHeebo

*This post first published in Heebo blog

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