If you’re running a business, you’re either constantly looking toward the future, or you’re a dinosaur. Yet companies that are constantly innovating their business plans to capture shifts in technology and the market are content to stick with a hiring plan from a bygone era — and then scratching their heads when they cannot replace the talent they are losing left and right.

The simple fact is that the old ways of hiring are gone. To stay competitive in today’s talent race, companies need to look to the future. Here are some of the most important ways companies need to innovate to keep attracting the talent they need.

Identify the Candidate You Really Need

There must be a strategy to hiring.  It’s far too easy and tempting to rely on a boilerplate job description when it comes to an open position. With vacancies for existing positions, too often the departing employee’s job description is simply copied and pasted. For new positions, the existing functions of the current team are duplicated, as if the new worker would be a carbon copy of the ones you already have.

It shouldn’t be hard to see that both of these tactics are invitations to “repeat the past.” The person you hire isn’t going to be doing yesterday’s work. Instead, try to understand the challenges that your company will be facing in the not-too-distant future and over the long term. Here at JBC and Janou Pakter, we encourage our clients to always look at the bigger picture, then we support them in trying to think creatively about how each new position can help overcome the gaps in their current team and face new challenges head on.  

Understand Tomorrow’s Skills

When it comes to the specialties we support, such as technology, engineering, data science, product UX/UI, fashion, beauty, creative, and more, we already know that in-demand hard skills are constantly changing, as workers race to keep up with new coding frameworks, digital best practices, marketing analytics insights, and other tools.  But the same is also true of the so-called soft skills, which have taken on new importance in remote work environments.

Communication skills, time management, teamwork — all become essential when employees are physically distanced from their supervisors and management. But even more important today is a shift from just good communication to a focus on empathy. To ask your team members how they are really doing. There must be a move from emotional intelligence to emotional agility and having the strength to navigate through feelings. A shift from simple time management must also occur, as we find ourselves now in context management, with an added focus on how we come together

While a candidate who’s good at following through on tasks has always been prized, today we also value initiative more highly. We need candidates who can demonstrate that they are “self-starters” and have what it takes to work independently, while still being part of a team.

Get Compensation Right in the Remote Work Era

In today’s hiring landscape it’s a candidate’s market, in a big way. At the same time, the transition to remote work has finally delivered on the long-held promise of “work from anywhere.” Many workers took that invitation literally, seizing the opportunity to leave the big city, and the reality is remote work will be here to stay in many different shapes and forms even after the pandemic ends. 

This sea change has made the job market more competitive and complex, not less. In the last year we saw some prominent tech companies offer remote work in exchange for reduced compensation. That proved to be a big mistake. While remote work has opened employers up to a larger, nationwide talent pool, the opposite is now also true. People anywhere have their pick of the best companies to work for, no matter where they’re located.

Don’t Overlook Culture

A company’s work culture and a candidate’s cultural fit are not easy qualities to put into words, but they must not be overlooked. While you may be tempted to downplay the importance of culture when teams are working remotely, in truth it’s more critical than ever. As the pandemic wanes, candidates are demanding to know more about the return to office and for insights into company culture — especially if the role is remote for the time being. Being in a position to properly articulate those plans has now become critical. Make sure the candidate gets a good sense of your culture, and you get a good sense of their fit. Just like you are shopping for the best fit for your organization candidates too are shopping for the ideal company, the ideal culture and the ideal day to day work setting.  

Put Diversity and Inclusion Front and Center

This needed movement in hiring has been years in the making but has become even more urgent this past year in light of last summer and the continued appropriate focus on racial justice. Companies are finally understanding the importance of showing progress in this area within their internal organizations, as they realize that a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce is critical not only for addressing past and current inequities in society but also to understand and satisfy the needs of their coworkers and customers.

Many large companies have already had a full-time Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) officer in place, while many more are finally waking up to the importance of this position and leveraging search firms like JBC and Janou Pakter to hire this critically important function within their organizations. But the pace has not been accelerating fast enough. The gender pay gap has barely budged in the past 15 years, despite growing calls to fix it. Meanwhile, McKinsey & Company notes that at current rates of progress, Black employees will not reach “talent parity” for another 95 years. Your customers, and your employees, know we can’t wait that long.

We can’t know for sure what the future will bring. But we do know what happened to the dinosaurs. For companies to succeed in times of change, they need to be forward-thinking about their hiring practices and prepared for the unexpected.