Finding the right talent is essential to sustained business growth. But the workforce has changed, and identifying and hiring top talent from the modern labor pool is a challenge. Structural changes in the workforce (Boomers retiring, Millennials coming in) and recent economic conditions (workers seeking alternative employment during the recession) have combined to give modern talent a new face. Does your company and hiring manager know who or what to look for?

Identifying Modern Talent

Talent looks different today than it did five, 10, 15 or even 20 years ago. The gig economy has grown substantially, and depending on how much of a candidate's work experience has been contract or contingent based, this can create considerable challenges for hiring managers. In some cases, contingent and contract workers have grown accustomed to the free-agent status that comes with that type of work, making it more difficult to sell an opportunity with your company and assess their level of commitment to your team and goals. Your current hiring practice is probably ill-equipped to determine a contingent worker's depth of experience, cultural fit, and adaptability. Past performance metrics for a contract worker are not so easily determined. And because of the nature of their work, who do you call for references?

Hiring managers are also challenged when it comes to hiring millennials. Millennials change jobs frequently, with 1 in 5 reporting they've changed jobs within the past year. Unlike earlier generations, the modern workforce brings a raft of work experience that can be difficult to define and understand because modern jobs themselves are also different - many roles that used to exist don't anymore, or multiple roles are blended into one.

Some companies have evolved their hiring practices through utilizing social media, promoting a company culture that speaks to the values and preferences of the modern workforce, and relying on employee referral programs to meet these changes. But many small businesses lack the time and resources to revamp their HR practices to hire for modern talent. As the profile of modern talent is evolves, so too must recruiting and hiring practices.

Hiring Modern Talent

Modern talent expects recruiter-candidate interactions to be more personal. In some cases, recruiters have moved away from formalities like resumes and cover letters because they don't give you all the information you need to make an informed decision. Hiring managers are also putting less stock in resumes, viewing them as a singular piece of the candidate assessment process. This evolution can make it difficult for to separate top performers from the pack when using standard identifiers (i.e. resumes, LinkedIn, work experience).

Therefore, you shouldn't be seeking the same types of resumes and career paths you did five or 10 years ago. Today's talent will often exhibit a career path that started with a college internship and/or real-world work experience programs while still in school - but from there, you're likely to see a zig-zagging path and wide breadth of jobs and experiences. The trick is determining which experiences develop their skills and judgment in a way that's transferable and learning more about each.

When interviewing, look for leading performance indicators: experience, judgment, autonomy, and personality. Find ways to draw these indicators out during the interview process and determine how well developed they are within each candidate. There's no standard rubric for measuring these performance indicators, but regardless of a candidate's prior experience - contingent or otherwise - screening for cultural fit and aptitude in these areas will help your team make the most of the modern talent pool.

The gig economy and changing workforce norms will continue to make understanding and finding the right candidate a challenge. Work histories, assignments, and experience will continue to change and evolve, but savvy hiring managers will arm themselves with available tools and strategies to bridge the gap in identifying and hiring modern talent - and ensure continued business growth with a top flight team.