4 Traits of “Future Proof” Employees

By Kevin on January 2, 2013 in leadership, People

What should you look for as you recruit new hires in 2013?

As an employee yourself, what traits will serve you best in the years ahead?

Late last year IBM conducted interviews with 1,709 CEOs around the world, and published the results in a white paper titled “Leading Through Connections.” It’s a fascinating look at how business leaders are reacting to recent convergence of digital, social and mobile technologies, known by many as the “connected economy.”

Once again, CEOs rank “human capital” as the #1 key to sustained advantage, trumping customer relationships and even innovation. But in the past the never ending “war for talent” was a competition for skilled labor. Yet, in this world of breakneck change and uncertainty, who can even know what skills are going to be required just a few years down the road? Hiring for talents of today could mean incapable workers tomorrow.

Instead of looking for particular skills, most of the CEOs interviewed by IBM realized that they need employees who are able to thrive in change, by constantly learning and reinventing themselves. The four specific traits most desired are:

  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Flexibility

The full list of desired traits can be seen in the graph below:

There’s an old motto, “Hire traits, train skills.” But in today’s dynamic environment it might be more prudent to hire traits that enable ongoing renewal of skills.


Kevin Kruse is a NY Times bestselling author and keynote speaker. Get more success and tips from his newsletter at kevinkruse.com and check out keynote video clips. His new book, Employee Engagement 2.0, teaches managers how to turn apathetic groups into emotionally committed teams.

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