Not “What” You Know

From Michael Schrage in the Harvard Business Review:

When I look at who is getting hired, purported knowledge almost always matters less than demonstrable skills. The distinctions aren’t subtle; they’re immense. How do they manifest themselves? These hires don’t have resumes highlighting educational pedigrees and accomplishments; their resumes emphasize their skill sets. Instead of listing aspirations and achievements, these resumes present portfolios around performance. They link to blogs, published articles, PowerPoint presentations, podcasts and webinars the candidates produced. The traditional two-page resume has been turned into a “personal productivity portal” that empowers prospective employers to quite literally interact with their candidate’s work.

Unsurprisingly, this simultaneously complements and reinforces the employer-side due diligence that’s emerged during this recession: firms have both the luxury and necessity to find the best possible candidates for open positions. Yes, they’re looking for appropriate levels of educational accomplishment but, really, what they most want are people who have the skills they need. More importantly, they want to actually see those skills — be they written, computed, designed and/or presented. Professional services firms I know now don’t hesitate to ask a serious candidate to demonstrate their sincerity and skills by asking them to show how they might “adapt” a presentation for one of the company’s own clients. Verbal fluency and presence impresses headhunters and interviewers. But the ability to virtually demonstrate one’s professional skills increasingly matters more.

This is part of the vast structural shift in the human capital marketplace worldwide. Firms have the ability and incentive to be far more selective in their hires. But project managers and professionals also have the bandwidth and desire to showcase their skills. The resume is rapidly mutating away from a documentary string of alphanumeric text into a multimedia platform that projects precisely the brand image and substance a job candidate seeks to convey. Did they teach you that in college or grad school? Of course not. Will you learn that by hanging around LinkedIn or Facebook? Probably not.

Is this how human capital markets will become more efficient and effective tomorrow? Absolutely. You’ve got to have skill to show off your knowledge. [Emphasis mine.]

I want to know, how are RTTT, Common Core and all of the curriculum that’s going to drive it going to help my kids build “the bandwidth and the desire to showcase their skills” instead of motivating them (and their teachers) to simply get them to pass the knowledge test? How are schools going to prepare my children for showing off their knowledge if they don’t embrace sharing technologies? If my kids need more than a resume, if they need a transparent, global portfolio, how are we helping them create it?

Or is this all just a bunch of hooey?


Source: Will Richardson