Have you ever seen a street where all the houses are designed the same way? Where the windows and doors are in exactly the same spot in each house? Where the same-looking driveway meets the same-looking garage for every home?
Job candidates would be a step ahead of their competition if only they understood that potential employers and recruiters alike often experience this feeling of sameness when looking at resumes.
What is really frustrating is, that just like those houses in the street which all look the same from the outside, we understand that the façade of a resume often hides the reality of vibrantly different personalities with different colours, tastes, experiences, emotions and passions.
When advertising for specific jobs, employers and recruiters list the most important skills and qualities candidates need to have as a minimum. Candidates, not surprisingly, send in applications and resumes which addresses the minimum criteria.
What they often fail to do is sell their own “talent stack” that unique set of skills, experiences, character traits and qualifications which could and should, set them apart from other candidates.
The term ‘talent stack’ was coined by cartoonist Scott Adams – best known as the creator of the Dilbert Cartoon series – to describe developing a variety of skills which combine to make someone a sought-after commodity.
Adams describes his own talent stack in the following terms: “I am a famous syndicated cartoonist who doesn’t have much artistic talent, and I’ve never taken a college-level writing class. But few people are good at bothdrawing and writing. When you add in my ordinary business skills, my strong work ethic, my risk tolerance, and my reasonably good sense of humour, I’m fairly unique.
And in this case, that uniqueness has commercial value”.
His advice sounds incredibly simple: “Anyone can develop a more valuable talent stack. Just figure out which talents go well together. If in doubt, add public speaking to your stack first”.
And indeed, it can be that simple if candidates and clients are guided through the process.
The key to building your own talent stack is understanding the value of developing individual skill-sets which may be deemed to be of little worth on their own, but when combined, join together to create a sought-after candidate.
It is important to remember that candidates do not need to be experts in each of the skills they are developing as part of their talent stack. The real power of these skills is combining them to form an impressive whole.
Keys to a good talent stack
Across the recruitment sector, there are some fundamentals we can all agree on. What makes the perfect talent stack is not one of them. This is partly because the perfect talent stack really is something quite unique to each role and each candidate.
A recruiter sourcing staff for an accounting position will be looking for a different skill-set to a recruiter trying to place marketing staff.
However, as a general rule of thumb, there are some key qualities which candidates from all sectors would certainly benefit from developing and refining.
- Strong written and verbal communication skills
- Solid emotional intelligence
- Sales experience
- Public speaking skills
- Programming skills
- Strong persuasive abilities
- Social media skills
It may seem daunting for candidates to develop a new set of skills outside of their formal qualifications and experience. The good news is that they already are without realising it, often during the course of their daily activities.
What the concept of the talent stack does, is encourages each of us to be more conscious of our hard and soft skills and to continue to develop them throughout our careers.
For some this may mean taking up a public speaking course, learning a new language or returning to tertiary education. For others, it may mean developing a reading list to help increase self-awareness.
There are lots of very simple ways for everyone to improve their own talent stack and as recruitment professionals, it would be foolish to think our bag of tricks and skills could not be added to allowing us to offer better value for clients and candidates.
What are you doing to increase your value in the marketplace? How are you developing your own talent stack?
Bo Campbell is a Senior Consultant at Davidson Corporate.