A 2011 prediction of a key employee in 2020 – how right was Kevin Wheeler?

Kevin Wheeler resides in the highest echelon of recruitment and talent experts.

I watch and learn from Kevin every year when he closes the annual Australasian Talent Conference (ATC) with his Fearless Forecast.

Kevin not only knows what issues, topics, and trends to pay attention to in the world of talent and recruitment he knows how to make sense of them, understand their significance and communicate what he has learned to others through his workshops, keynotes, and articles.

Kevin’s brain is truly on another planet to almost everybody else’s when it comes to the future of talent.

In August 2012 the Sydney Morning Herald ran a quote from me in their article Job seekers: think like a search engine: The brave new world of job hunting will soon favour those who can think like a search engine and keep their social networks clean.

“Recruitment is heading the way of ‘big data’ and everything online will be used to not only find you, but to assess you as a candidate for a role that you have never applied for in a company you have never heard of and, maybe, in a town, city or country you have never visited”, said recruitment trainer Ross Clennett.”

This was a view I formed having heard Kevin speak at the 2011 ATC.

The SMH article goes on:

”Big data” refers to all of that unstructured public information – such as that found in social media sites – and it has captured the attention of business commentators.

In a recent blog, US recruitment commentator Kevin Wheeler wrote about the big analytical systems currently in development by large software firms like Oracle, IBM, HP, EMC and SAS.

“We have an increasing ability to learn more and more about people by gleaning bits of information about someone from scraping or extracting data from websites/public information/social networks and from information about the products or services someone buys or uses, and from their interests extracted from comments, Tweets, locations, and so forth,” he wrote.

Wheeler also recently told delegates at the Australian Talent Conference that social media would become the foundation of all recruiting.

This assertion is completely uncontroversial and obvious to any recruiter in 2021 but, ten years ago, it was a long way from being a widely-held view in the recruitment industry.

As I was cleaning out my files in preparation for my recent move I came across my notes from Kevin’s 2011 ATC Fearless Forecast.

Here’s what I had written:

A key employee in 2020 is a person who:

  • experiments
  • figures things out
  • is well connected
  • is aware of global trends
  • collaborates with a broad array of others

Kevin’s prediction has been proven to be spectacularly right

Two months ago, in her brilliant Forbes article Human Capital Era Reality: The Skills Gap May Never Closeauthor Heather E. McGowan (who is right up there with Kevin in her thinking and ability to synthesise what she learns), stated in her assessment of conclusions drawn from an array of recent research on future workforce skills:

“….most work now depends on the successful collaboration of teams. Bottom line: We need humans that can learn and adapt together and in doing so find and frame new challenges in order to create new value. 

We need people who can explore the unknown, find and frame problems, formulate novel knowledge, and create new value.

….we need to focus new learning on knowledge that is durable, rather than skills that are perishable. Durable skills are foundational. They remain useful even as perishable skills become obsolete. Most importantly, durable skills retain their value over time.” 

The five attributes of a key employee, as articulated by Kevin way back in 2011, are the durable skills we need to recognise and develop in ourselves.

These five durable skills are also ones for a recruiter to be competent at discussing with clients (and candidates), as key hiring (and getting hired) criteria for any potential key employee (and role).

In doing so, you can elevate yourself from being seen as ‘just a recruiter’ to that of a true talent expert.

Cover Image: Shutterstock

This article first appeared on RossClennett.com blog on 1 April 2021.

You can catch Kevin at the upcoming Australasian Talent Conference 2021 DIGITAL #ATC2021DIGITAL event speaking about The Fearless Forecast: The New Now of Work + Possible Futures. Get your 2-4-1 tickets now!

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