All companies know the impact of employees that bring that special something with them, and that impact is visible from day 1.

They are more focused, productive, and grow teams around them, and ultimately build new innovative components that might become that company’s purpose in the future. You see examples of this every day when you look at Google maps, Gmail or see a contextual ad on your favourite website, as all of these were created in Google’s famous 20% policy, driven by people that had a vision.

But what was once an ambition for tech companies, has now become the new baseline, essentially because every company has become somehow reliable on IT, Data and Innovation, with some moving entirely to the digital realm, and others existing only in the virtual one.

As a consequence, what companies now expect from their talent is a mindset change, and they are counting on the young talent to become the catalyst of that change the rest of the workforce must achieve for the business to remain relevant in today’s real-time, always-on economy. It is often represented by studies that measure the impact on the culture when Millennials grow above 50% of the workforce.

If we look at the set of principles a corporate business values, it is suffering an even more profound change than we can see today. Let’s consider the following points.

What you train and specialise yourself in was previously only accessible through exclusive learning experiences, or in the mind of a few mentors. It is now all available online (and much of it for free). 

Now consider that somewhere in the vast digital community, there are expert innovators, data scientists and technologists trying to find a way to codify that knowledge and create a tool that does it for you – quicker, cheaper and more accurately – and they want to sell it for a monthly fee of £10 per month.

Silver lining: This is as good as robots are, and they need many people and infrastructure to help them do everything (link video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LV01pkm-Yms). 

The increasing pressure to be inclusive, bias-free and aware of the wellbeing of everyone around you, adds to that already extensive list.

Where the people you competed with for a position was limited to the same region or country, now, post-pandemic, competition is literally global.

Every company is struggling to empathise with employees and customers, as they struggle to align their ways of working across different regions, cultures and contexts, and we are deep in the realities of climate change, social inequality and political crisis.

Ensuring a balanced investment of time to build social skills and empathy, technical skills as well as an area of expertise (language, maths, art, sports) is critical.

When a company hires a finance expert, they expect that person to be familiar with technological concepts around that area – Excel, data governance, reporting software. Most importantly, if they are not familiar, they have the base knowledge and motivation to learn. They almost certainly need to work with peers and teams and align beyond what their core role is, and be able to negotiate and agree.

Particularly in the global workforce context of large corporations, it is expected there is an awareness of different cultures and beliefs, as well as an inclusive approach to working as a team, even if you only engage via Zoom.

Additionally, soon the vast majority of companies will have plans to become sustainable and carbon neutral in everything they do, identify and support the development of the societal groups and territories where they operate, and ensure there are mechanisms in place to govern the part they play in the world, and how they make it a better place.

But the ultimate challenge lies in the need to keep up. That means to keep changing the way you work, continuously learn about technologies the company is adopting, being an active part of improving the world while you support the strategy of the business you work for. All while being aware and inclusive of how others are experiencing this.

This challenge is not about turning humans into machines, it is the exact opposite. Machines are exceptionally efficient at doing one thing really well, but they require someone that can understand where they are useful, how they fit into a series of activities shared between machines and humans, and understand how to keep improving it.

Companies used to think they had to transform to be fit for the future, without realising they need to transform to be able to keep transforming. This requires creativity and problem-solving skills on a strategic level, and those too can be trained.

It’s interesting to think social media has reached 50% usage in a ¼ of the time it took the telephone to get to similar levels in the US. In some continents, Facebook IS the internet (link here: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/jan/20/facebook-second-life-the-unstoppable-rise-of-the-tech-company-in-africa)

The pace at which new technologies are adopted, innovative becomes mainstream, and knowledge is massified, is dramatically increasing.

The big differentiator in talent looking for work will be the ability to understand objectives, learn how to use and engage with people and tools – systems, code, data – and continuously improve the impact of their effort. The combination of technical, field of expertise and human skills, and having a growth mindset will make a difference in getting the job, getting your feet under the desk, and really standing out.

The ultimate advantage becomes when your job is something you’re passionate about – that is what will wake you up, even in the face of uncertainty.

Are you ready?