In tight economic times, with competition at its fiercest, every company hire has to be strategic to the business. In this environment, what skills are most important? LinkedIn analyzed the 25 Hottest Skills of 2013 and found that social media marketing was number one. Indeed, it’s my belief that social businesses that know how to leverage collaboration to improve business agility will be the ones which will thrive over the next decade

By the end of this decade, the millennial generation will comprise more than 75 percent of the workforce. That workforce is mobile, social, and hyper-connected, with a deep desire for a real-time understanding of events. If, as a job candidate, you haven’t built up your personal online brand (your accomplishments and, most importantly, your beliefs and values) you risk becoming irrelevant to any forward-looking employer regardless of your domain expertise.

However, the greater challenge may not be with the prospective employee, but rather with employers’ ability to adopt the social business mindset to recruit and retain the best socially savvy and active candidates. For businesses to stay competitive, connected, and able to recruit the very best talent, they must be able to demonstrate social intelligence and caring. It takes courage and a culture of transparency for businesses to empower employees to connect and to scale the company’s mission. 

Tapping the right talent

In the book, The Pursuit of Social Business Excellence, which I co-authored with colleague Brad Martin, we talk about the six critical elements to social business success: Culture, People, Strategy, Process, Structure, and Technology. The profile of the very best talent is a “social employee” who goes above and beyond to contribute to the success of the business. In order to find these people, businesses must know what to look for and how to best recruit them.

In the social era, companies must hire people they trust, and then trust them to do their work. The character of these people will shape the company’s future. It is true that the best players usually win, but it is not about how smart you are, or your past accomplishments, but rather how much you collaborate and win as a team.

The talent acquisition process in a social business has to embrace a new model for today’s social talent. Recruiting is already moving from reliance on traditional resumes to social media and Google as your resume. The Internet is the new resume, and social networks serve as mass references. The next step will be to retire the dreaded annual performance review in favor of continually available, real-time performance feedback.

Social businesses want social candidates to be part of their ecosystem. They look for candidates with an online presence that showcases accomplishments, networking capabilities, and measures of their influence. All things being equal, if you have two candidates, it makes sense to hire the person who is more socially active because their ability to impact others is so much greater. With this shift in the way that companies recruit candidates, they’re continually and actively hunting for talent, rather than waiting for the talent to come to them.

Thriving social businesses look for a digital footprint of excellent judgment, experience, and influence as the important criteria for talent acquisition. Be social or be irrelevant. The choice is yours.