The winds of change: hiring in the digital economy



At The MBS Group we thrive on a challenge – we always have – and there are few challenges greater than taking over a failed search from a competitor. Knowing that the market has already been extensively mapped, you’re dealing with a narrower pool of talent. Meanwhile, technology is one of the most dynamic sectors and it presents its own exciting obstacles. You’re dealing with a company that is living in the future, while the rest of the world is living in the present. You have to find someone who can ride that wave with them. Through hard work, perseverance and a genuine partnership with the client, however, our prior experience means we know the art of the possible. So, when we inherited a search with a tech business last year that had already been with another firm for over 18 months, it was something of a perfect storm and we quickly understood the scale of the task ahead of us.

Like many searches in digital and tech, we faced a common problem. The role we were looking to fill was new. No one had done it before.

Research released by PwC earlier this week showed the extent to which these constantly shifting sands impact jobs: 6% of the UK workforce – some 1.8 million people – are now in jobs that didn’t exist 25 years ago. In a fast-moving world of constant change, you need to look at talent in a new way. Instead of focusing on previous experience and past achievements, you have to place much more emphasis on a candidate’s potential; their aptitude for reacting quickly to, and exploiting, the emerging opportunities around them.

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Focus in the tech sector is on potential, rather than past achievements

Approaching the search, we knew it was critical that we worked very closely with our client, securing their buy-in early on. It was important that they too understood that we would not find a candidate who already had the right blend of experience, but that if we reduced the role down to its most essential qualities – cultural fit and potential – and prepared to be in it for the long haul, we would have a decent chance of success. Indeed it was a long haul, taking just over a year, which must be some kind of record for us! But the effort was worth it and we couldn’t be more pleased with the placement. The successful candidate, unsurprisingly, came from a left-field background, but she brings the right cultural fit and leadership qualities, possessing the vision to pick up the role and run with it, wherever tech takes us next!

Do you think your job will still exist in 25 years time? Let me know your thoughts at moira@thembsgroup.co.uk, and have a great weekend.