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A reboot for graduate hiring: How AI is reshaping the definition of 'high potential'

Future of WorkTalent DevelopmentAI
calendarSeptember 04, 2023
calendarAlan Bourne
A reboot for graduate hiring: How AI is reshaping the definition of 'high potential'

A key question for all graduate hiring teams is what does the ideal high potential graduate hire look like for our business? Right now, the ground beneath the graduate hiring landscape is shifting, jolted by technological advancements and a marketplace that’s undergoing seismic changes. If generative AI can run financial models or manage customer interactions, what are your new grads bringing to the table?  Graduate hiring needs to adapt fast to a number of sweeping changes reshaping the world of work.

Escaping The Legacy of Yesteryear

Once upon a time, employers clung to a more or less standardised checklist when evaluating young talent: conscientiousness, academic merit, a strong work ethic, and the capacity for linear problem-solving. But that was in a pre-pandemic world that considered digital transformation as more of a 'nice-to-have' than a 'need-to-have'. Fast forward to 2023, and not only is agility the lifeblood of any successful enterprise, but the game has also fundamentally changed in what organisations seek in their future leaders.

Responding To The AI Wave

With AI increasingly capable of doing much of the nitty-gritty work — from conducting research to drafting emails — the scope of what entry-level managers were traditionally expected to do is transforming. Businesses not only want all the legacy characteristics, but are also looking for graduates who are adaptable, agile, and tech-savvy. This doesn't mean graduates are becoming redundant; rather, the quality of work they can now engage with has grown dramatically. There’s now a premium on recruits who can navigate complex problem-solving, manage stakeholders skilfully, and use digital tools to maximize efficiency and innovation.

A reboot for graduate hiring: How AI is reshaping the definition of 'high potential'

Delivering On Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

When identifying top talent, companies are looking behind the CV and prioritising diversity, equity and inclusion. The blend of varying backgrounds and perspectives this brings to the table can also greatly enrich problem-solving and innovation — something machines aren't tuned for. The time is past when elite education was the golden ticket to a corner office. Companies are increasingly focusing on skill-based evaluations and real-world problem-solving capabilities, allowing for a more equitable hiring landscape.  This is critical to build a future-proof workforce to drive success.

What Does This Mean For ‘High Potential’?

As a result of these tectonic changes in the hiring landscape, our understanding of what 'high potential' means has to change radically. Alongside mainstay aspects of potential such as strategic thinking, learning and influencing skills, there is now a vital emphasis on those qualities that machines cannot replicate. In a world swarmed with algorithms, genuine creativity becomes a prized capability. The aptitude for understanding human emotions, managing relationships, and stakeholder interests sets the human leader apart. Graduates are now not only expected to be fluent in the language of technology, but also master the art of being fundamentally human in a digitised world.

So what does 'good' look like in this context? It requires well-rounded, agile individuals whoare not just a tech wizard but also nuanced communicators and creative thinkers, who can lead through change, bring diverse teams together, and leverage technology to solve complex, multi-dimensional problems.

All this has direct implications for your firm’s future.  It is critical to redefine the success profile for identifying the graduate hires of tomorrow, reshaped to bring these qualities to the forefront of both attraction and assessment.  In a world where it seems like technology can do almost everything, the challenge now is finding graduates who excel at the uniquely human tasks which it cannot do.