A new TEDx talk we’d like to introduce to you: the speaker is David Wicks, founder of Digital Hunters which celebrates the success of high-growth technology businesses and helps others to follow in their footsteps. David has spent over 20 years hiring engineers and building software teams in start-ups and multinationals, and brings this extensive experience to bear in his talk. One of David’s previous roles was as Director of Development at Orbis Technology, which was awarded a place in the Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 for two consecutive years, so he has hands-on exposure to sourcing and building talent in environments of rapid change.
The talk is roughly 17 minutes long, is entitled “How do we solve The Talent Crisis” and was given at TEDx Coventry in June 2018. While David himself is from the technology industry, the topic of his talk is incredibly relevant to other industries as more and more professionals will need to learn new skills in order to work alongside machine-based solutions powered by automation and artificial intelligence. As an example, consider the rise of the Fintech and Insurtech industries. The nature of human work continues to change, and the speed of change is ever increasing.
With the rise of artificial intelligence and robotics, the entire job landscape is transforming. What were commonplace jobs a few years ago are disappearing, and new ones are appearing all the time. No matter what sector we are working in, most of us can expect to do a job we’ve never done before, perhaps for the rest of our careers. And we have to be prepared for a life of continuous learning.”
David covers a range of anecdotes, including the Movember movement, the American goal of landing a man on the moon during the 1960s, and Skyscanner, an online travel company which has been listed in the Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 seven times so far. He weaves them into a narrative about:
...Most of these organisations are saying their number one challenge is finding sufficient talent. Supply just isn’t keeping up with demand. Now this problem is most acute with high-growth organisations and businesses, particularly in the digital tech sector.”
David argues that keyword checklists used by some recruitment processes are outdated, and run the real risk of hiring for skills which will become obsolete. He describes it as “technology is moving at such a fast rate that what was new and hot a few months ago will soon be old and cold...”
Instead, organisations should tell their stories – where they’ve come from, where they are now, and where they want to be. These stories give insight into their “why” and help to attract people who want to be part of something bigger and feel a connection with that purpose.
The prosperity of our communities, our countries, the very fabric of our society depends on successful organisations and businesses growing and creating new jobs and opportunities, and building these kinds of teams”
Showcasing our own talents
David also argues that companies should encourage those applying for roles to share their stories too, through simple questions like: which achievements are you most proud of and why?
He talks about the importance of both skills and attitude, explaining that successful organisations understand how vital versatility and outlook are: “...engineers with a deep knowledge in one particular technology area, strong analytics skills and rapid learning skills, can keep up with the technology revolution. But it’s not just technical skills. Fast-growing organisations need highly proactive engineers who get up in the morning determined to make a difference, who hate being a small cog in a machine, who have a strong sense of personal responsibility and a desire to achieve.”
Candidates need to break free from their CV cages and tell their stories.
A personal story which underscores this is my own experience of shortlisting and interviewing bursary candidates for my employer over a decade ago. As part of the application process (a process I myself went through another decade earlier), candidates were asked to write an essay about their choice of career. This gave them the opportunity to showcase their personality, achievements, and demonstrate their professional commitment. A number of the applications and interviews still stick with me today, including one successful applicant who wrote her essay in the format of a highly original radio play, making her submission stand out among the thousands received.
David’s final advice to candidates is: “Know your values, know your depth of experience, know your pride in your achievements, and your passion for the domain, and tell your stories”. We at Protagion wholeheartedly agree, and would love to help you do just that.