Author: Steve Tennessen

Less hype than Samsung’s Galaxy S4, but I guarantee Talent 4.0 will have a more profound impact on its respective constituency. Bigger, faster, stronger – both of these “next generations” mark an irrevocable progression in the competitive marketplace. With Talent 4.0, corporate America encounters a revitalizing perspective as well as a dangerous ultimatum – lead the pack or get trampled underfoot.

Talent 1.0 was the era of print advertising, paper resumes, and the desktop rolodex. Talent 2.0 welcomed the Internet, as recruiting diversified into job boards and corporate websites. And 3.0 was a major game-change, driven largely by social media and transparency of the Digital Age, where focus shifted to passive candidates and relationship management.

What is Talent 4.0? Innovation becomes the business imperative, hiring is all about fit, elite talent has the upper hand over corporations, destination employers dominate the market share of premium talent, and metrics are the crux of all people-related decision making. What then are the hallmarks of Talent 4.0? Engagement, culture, leadership development, and ROI. So embrace Talent 4.0 – hire bigger, hire faster, hire stronger.

A promising young technology firm, Badgeville has already read the tell-tales. In order to better assess fit, a hiring manager will ask a candidate to do “homework” at some point during the recruiting process. Not only does this itself test industry and domain expertise but it gauges leadership insight, communication skills, overall interest in the company, as well as the bravery and candor to openly address a shortcoming of the organization. Added bonus, this exercise motivates current employees to stay at the top of their game.

Already a trend-setter in the hospitality industry, back in 2011 Marriott launched a web-based recruiting game. A Farmville-like scenario, players begin in a kitchen by hiring/managing staff, purchasing product, and filling orders all while staying under budget. This gamification has engaged a cohort of Millennials, diverting their attention not only from competitors but from wholly different career paths. The visibility of tasks and career progression helps prospective employees visualize their Marriott experience, so much so that the company plans to deploy a similar platform internally for training and employee relations.

Even as Marissa Mayer’s panel interviews ruffle feathers over at Yahoo, the concept is popular and thriving at Whole Foods. There, the leadership team fosters a sense of community by selecting employees from disparate groups to form a panel to interview finalists. Not only does this promote employee engagement among current and future team members, but the diverse panel functions like a checks-and-balance system for culture fit. Informally, this practice is starting to be used for leadership development and promotion considerations.

Not just drinking the Talent 4.0 kool-aid but serving it up, Zappos persists as a bellwether of corporate culture. Most of us have heard that during final interviews, a hiring manager will offer the candidate cash to walk away. Less publicized, on an employee’s 90 day anniversary the company offers him/her $1,000 to quit. This gives whole new meaning to being “all in.” But beyond headline-grabbers like that, Zappos regularly posts video on its website of its people exploring what the corporate culture means for them. It’s a humanizing, personal touch that sparks two-way conversation about a career at Zappos.

Target hit a bulls-eye in connecting its people via an internal, multi-dimensional social network. It starts with TargetWiki, a rangy corporate encyclopedia documenting everything from product specs to “how do I fill out Form B-273?” Then there’s RedTalk, a social media app where employees not only converse in real-time, but it’s often where problem-solving meets crowd-sourcing. Along with other technology enablers these resources tap into “tribal knowledge,” where every employee instantly benefits from more than 50 years of being in business; and where 100 heads are better than one.

Frequently ranked as Fortune Magazine’s #1 Best Company to Work For, it seems only fitting that Google has been on the leading-edge of employee analytics. The company’s wildly sophisticated hiring algorithm incorporates not just what you’d expect, it also examines – optimal number of interview rounds, to minimize time-to-hire while maximizing value; comparative performance data within job families; short-term vs. long-term benefits of a given hire; and, rejected resumes to avoid filtering out a rock star.

And the (talent) rich stay rich. Google also employs a retention algorithm to proactively identify employees who may be “at risk” and break from the company. Crunching data on everything from a person’s recent performance, to the probability and timing of a promotion, to the diversity of his/her tasks and group interactions, this unique formula enables a personalized approach to retaining talent. And the piece de resistance for any talent professional, Google regularly calculates the differential between a top performer and the average performer (which has soared as high as 300x). All things considered, the company is equipped to make irrefutable business cases for various talent decisions.

Like with Apple’s recent iPhone 5, before we know it corporate America will face the next evolution. Will you be ready? Your competitors will be.