Blink and you’re already behind. That’s how fast technology moves these days, and if you’re not hiring with a focus on technology, you’re crippling yourself in a world that’s increasingly dependent on it.
Below are three major areas where technology can and should influence your hiring decisions and how you can benefit if you remain mindful of them.
1. Distance learning lets you hire for potential — not for experience
In America’s not-so-distant past, it was common for young, would-be professionals to eschew college for hands-on learning experiences, like apprenticeships and on-site training programs. However, for one reason or another, recent years have seen a shift toward highly educated applicants, with pages and pages of references, years of experience and dozens of finely honed skills.
The funny part, though, is all those skills are going to be pretty much useless when technology does another one of its funny rabbit-from-a-hat tricks. All that stuff you learned in college has an extremely finite shelf life.
One of the best gifts modern technology has given the business world is the ability to train employees from the ground up in a dizzying assortment of specialty skills and fields of expertise. We’ve only begun to scratch the surface of how freeing this can be. Instead of hiring folks based on their existing skill sets, you now can hire them based on their temperament and potential, and on how well they fit with your company culture.
Online training from the likes of Code Academy, Udemy and even full-blown online colleges can help your new hires learn skills that are closely aligned with your business and how you conduct it. You can also inspire a culture of lifelong learning by incentivizing employees who pursue this type of program on their own time to sharpen their skills, expand their knowledge and gradually advance in the ranks.
Short version: You can identify potential new teammates by their interest in improving themselves and your organization, rather than by the skills they bring to the table on day one, which may already be out of date.
2. Cloud technologies demand different expectations
Are you old-fashioned? It’s understandable if you are — technology moves at such a rapid clip that it’s not at all uncommon for even forward-thinking organizations to fall behind the curve.
Although we’ve just spent some time exploring why “hard skills” don’t necessarily need to be a focus in your hiring efforts, there are some aspects of modern technology that do require something more than a fleeting glance. Chances are good you already have, or will soon have, a dedicated IT professional on your payroll — and if you do, you’ll want to be sure they’re on the cutting-edge of cloud computing.
If there’s one emerging technology from recent years that seems to have staying power — not to mention almost endless implications for business — it’s cloud computing and SaaS, or software as a service. By making use of the cloud, you can help your company enter a new age of accessibility, transparency and collaboration.
Of course, if you don’t have anybody on board yet who understands the cloud and what it’s capable of, it’s high time you fixed that oversight. Today’s IT professionals must meet different expectations, and that starts with being knowledgeable about what cloud computing and SaaS have to offer. From improved collaboration between employees and remote teams to software tools designed to make content marketing more effective and productive, cloud technology can fundamentally change the way you do business — and improve your bottom line.
In terms of concrete benefits to your business, cloud computing has the potential to deliver a substantial return on investment, since you’re able to pay for only the services and capabilities you need, and none that you don’t.
3. Our mobile future requires a shift in thinking
Named as the No. 2 most in-demand tech skill in Computerworld’s Forecast 2016 survey, programming and application development has become a requirement for any business that hopes to compete in an increasingly mobile, app-centric world.
Out of all survey respondents, 40% indicated they intend to hire individuals with credentials in these fields in the coming year — and they have a very good reason: Mobile computing now represents a substantial portion of video consumption. It has also changed the way we approach shopping and a laundry list of other common activities almost too long to name here.
Yes — mobile technology has finally come of age, and with it, we’re now seeing a dramatic shift in thinking when it comes to the ways we interact with our favorite organizations and brands. Gone are the days when web browsers were a catch-all solution for interaction. These days, you either have an app, or you fall behind. You’re either shunting personalized content and up-to-the-minute updates with push notifications, or you’re left without a voice. There’s really no in-between.
What does this mean for hiring? It means you need people who think outside the box, and who aren’t afraid to try bold new things. Traditional media isn’t dead, but you need to be sure your talent pool is comfortable with the brave new world of mobile computing — and knows how to turn it to your advantage.
In short, these three breakthroughs mean technology needs to be a focus of just about every organization’s hiring practices. Like we stressed in the beginning, it doesn’t always have to be about hard skills — many of these can be taught on-site. Instead, it’s more about finding those precious applicants who exhibit a desire to constantly learn new things and try their hand at exciting new techniques. An inquisitive mind and a desire to explore the unknown might turn out to be priceless.