Talent Identification in the IT industry

"So, if Ireland is going to be looking to employ lots of people in the coming years, I think we’re going to struggle if we’re only looking for ‘talent’. There’s not enough of it around. Companies need to start thinking about hiring individuals who may not have the skills now, but have the potential to develop those skills and go further than that. We have to start acquiring potential, developing potential, managing potential and pipe-lining potential."

From Hays Ireland

As someone who spends quite a bit of time working on coaching in sport, has been an IT teacher, and involved in writing Climbing Coaching awards for Ireland, I've regularly come across the debate over talent and potential. In youth sport, the main fad in many sports is to focus on the present - the youth who looks fantastic at their young age - whereas it would be better off looking with what the future has in mind.

Even in my own jobs, they rarely turn out to be exactly as I expected when I read the job description - more often than not there is sections of the job that end up being different, or I have to take on different tasks, or work on a different project, for example. I need to ensure I'm adaptable, willing to adjust to these new encounters and develop. I've also worked with those who are competent at one specific task and inflexible (or unwilling) to learn a new task.

At it's most extreme example, I can think of one IT job where someone had started in IT in the very early days of telephony and computing. He'd stayed in the industry and yet, incredibly, never learned (or again, perhaps was unwilling?) to learn how to copy and paste (either through mouse or keyboard). Whenever it was required, someone else had to take on the task. They didn't have potential!


Recruiters should be Talent Identifiers not Talent Selectors - the following is from a sports coaching website but highly relevant to industry:

"Talent selection is the culling of players with the current ability to participate and be successful in events taking place in the near future. Talent identification, on the other hand, is the prediction of future performance based upon an evaluation of current physical, technical, tactical and psychological qualities. Talent selection is pretty simple; talent identification is an art. One yields great results today; the other builds elite athletes and winning teams for the future."

When HR looks to recruit, are they being directed for short-term or long-term in mind?

All answers/thoughts welcome.....

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