A few months ago, one of the last bastions of the analogue world – my local council – switched to a fully digital system for buying visitor parking permits.
You may consider this unremarkable, given public parking in many parts of the world has for years been enabled by mobile apps that combine geo-location data with automatic payments from your phone. But if you live in my part of north London, you’ll understand that the words “technological” and “innovation” are not those you’d associate with local government services.
What has this got to do with the future of work, I’m sure you’re wondering?
Our expectations of instant, seamless digital experiences have fundamentally changed. We’ve long been accustomed to consumer products that please aesthetically while also being easy to use. For some reason, business-to-business equivalents lagged behind, but one thing the shift to distributed work during multiple lockdowns accelerated was a changing perception about what is possible and desirable from the products we use every day at work. No longer is it necessary to make do with slow, bureaucratic systems and poorly executed user experiences.
At least, that’s the aspiration. Unfortunately, this vision of the future isn’t yet a reality in every area of business.
The Work/Life Revolution
To illustrate the point, I’d like to pose a couple of questions.
In the past three years, we’ve experienced the greatest work/life revolution in history – agree or disagree?
Whether you believe in the strength of my assertion or not, it’s unlikely that you’d argue that something profound hasn’t occurred.
In my role as a company advisor and all-around obsessive about the future of work, I speak to dozens of business leaders every month. Rare is the occasion on which they don’t share the challenges they’re encountering in recalibrating and redesigning how their organisations work. And when you boil it all down, businesses’ most critical questions remain human ones.
Most notably, how do we hire the right people to help our company grow?
Has your ability to identify and recruit the best people evolved as dramatically as our expectations about how, when and where we work?
If you’re like the majority of those I’ve spoken to and surveyed over the past year, the answer is a resounding NO.
Undoubtedly, we’ve seen significant innovation in parts of the employment market. There are now a host of flexible work-focused job sites meeting the demand for a new way of working, for example. Developments in machine learning also offer the exciting possibility of better talent screening, however, at present, they promise more than they deliver. And, in the background, fundamental problems remain that hinder companies’ ability to hire quickly. Safe in the knowledge that candidates are who they say they are.
Specifically, how we collect and verify career credentials has barely changed in a hundred years.
Digital Career Credentials
Consider the traditional CV.
Yes, many people may have moved their paper resume into a Word document or PDF over the past decade. ‘Sophisticated’ recruiters may now even just refer to LinkedIn profile pages. But the value of the insights CVs contain hasn’t evolved much beyond company names, job titles and dates. Chances are, you still rely on self-reported education and certification data, running reference checks only with people suggested by the candidate. If you’re particularly diligent, you may supplement this with some basic background screening to check the person is who they say they are and that they don’t have any red flags against their name. But this can be painfully slow.
In an age where you can make multi-million dollar financial transfers instantaneously across borders, and Haringey council allows you to pay for parking in seconds, it still takes weeks to verify someone’s career credentials.
The global labour market relies on an analogue system in a digital world.
Or at least it did because I have some good news for you – the way we collect and share career credentials is experiencing a revolution of its own.
Just as candidates’ priorities have changed – flexibility and alignment with your organisation’s purpose now feature higher on the list – so have the tools we have to judge suitability for a role.
Rewind a few years, and the talent pool from which you’d be drawing would likely be within a 50-mile radius of your office. You’re now just as likely to be hiring a developer, a project manager or an administrative assistant from other parts of the world. With that comes the additional complexity of work eligibility, varying definitions of qualifications, not to mention language skills.
All of which highlight some major issues:
- 78% of people admit to lying on their CV.
- Although background screening is now a $17 billion industry, it isn’t easy to effectively recognise skills and capabilities.
- The workforce is becoming more mobile in terms of location and employment status (Upwork has reported that freelancers will represent the majority of the US workforce by 2027).
As a relentless optimist, I like to look upon this as an opportunity. A chance to reimagine how we think about hiring while removing unnecessary obstacles and delays that slow down innovation and reduce productivity. By leveraging the work of forward-thinking organisations to create a frictionless experience.
Let’s look at a few industry categories that are paving the way:
Training and development:
We need a new set of tools to overcome a global skills shortage resulting from education and training struggling to keep up with technological developments. Companies like Cornerstone, EdCast, and SumTotal are not only developing interactive approaches to learning, they’re providing transferable credentials that enable people to continue building their expertise as they move to new employers.
Since validating self-reported expertise at scale is challenging, many businesses rely on candidate assessment to verify skill level and certify qualifications. Global corporations like Aon have made acquisitions of assessment specialists, while consultancies like Korn Ferry have incorporated these services into their business models.
Often the final piece of the hiring puzzle is the background check – confirming a candidate’s identity, employment status, criminal record history and reference checks. Companies like Cisive, HireRite and InfoMart have developed worldwide networks to verify an increasingly mobile workforce, reducing risk and the possibility of employment fraud.
The Internet of Careers
So plenty is happening to address specific talent and hiring issues, but one significant challenge remains – combining multiple sources of career data into one trusted place.
The good news is, there’s a solution – allow people to collect and control their career data, sharing it with any employer – current or future – that they choose to.
That’s what the Velocity Network Foundation is doing by building the Internet of Careers. Velocity is a non-profit (of which all of the companies listed above are members) trying to solve these fundamental issues in the global labour market by putting control in the hands of the individual.
- What removes the need for a potential employer to start a fresh screening process for their new Sales Director? Instantly accessing verifiable data that gives them the information they need.
- Rather than worrying about whether your new Facilities Management candidate is being 100% honest about their employment history, why not allow them to share their work credentials via their personal career wallet?
- Instead of scheduling a series of assessment tests to test the skills and certifications of your new Pediatric Nurse, shouldn’t we just enable them to re-use the results they took a few months ago.
Lower risk. Improved candidate experience. Reduced costs. Less time to get people working.
All of this is now technically possible via Velocity, which will fundamentally change how you hire and manage your career.
Does this mean it’s easier to hire the ‘right’ people?
Will the possibility of verifying credentials speed up and improve how you hire in the future? Most definitely.
Will it ensure you hire better people? That depends. Like any data or technology, how you use it really matters.
The best technology unlocks more time for people to deploy uniquely human characteristics like creativity, context and critical thinking. Innovations like those being made by Velocity and its members, create the platform for more trust and less friction in the labour market, meaning you can focus on matching the ‘right’ people with the ‘right’ opportunities.
As we navigate the greatest work/life revolution in history, that’s how you’ll increase your ability to identify and recruit the best people.