Recruiting in the Knowledge Economy

In recent years, we’ve entered an economic phase that’s entirely new: the knowledge economy. In the knowledge economy, organizations rely on intellectual capital — knowledge — to achieve both tangible and intangible results. Indeed, companies in the knowledge economy often derive their value from intellectual capital — in other words, from the value of the knowledge possessed by their employees.

That’s not all, though. As this new economy has evolved, it has also placed a premium on people’s traits. According to Dov Seidman at Harvard Business Review, these traits include “creativity, passion, character, and collaborative spirit — their humanity, in other words.” Seidman continues, “The ability to leverage these strengths will be the source of one organization’s superiority over another.”

How the knowledge economy affected recruiting 

In 1994, Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen formed a new Hollywood studio: DreamWorks SKG. Although each invested $33.3 million, that was nowhere near enough money to get the venture off the ground. That meant the trio would need to attract investors — fast.

There was just one problem. As noted by Richard Corliss in an article published by TIME in 1995, “DreamWorks, which plans to make movies, TV shows, records, toys and computer software, has no film studio or recording studio, no products — indeed, no pedigree but its owners’ résumés.”

But oh, what résumés they were! Steven Spielberg was, of course, the Steven Spielberg — Oscar-winning director of such film classics as Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Jurassic Park . . . the list goes on. Then there was Jeffrey Katzenberg, who was credited with turning around Walt Disney Studios between 1984 and 1994. Films produced during his tenure included such family favorites as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. David Geffen was no slouch either, having launched several record labels during his career, including the eponymous Geffen Records.

DreamWorks SKG may not have had hard assets. But it did have the intangible value of its founders. Because of what these visionaries had done in the past, and because of what promise DreamWorks might hold for the future, investors from Seattle to Silicon Valley to Wall Street and beyond lined up — to the tune of $2 billion.

We’re not saying hard assets are no longer relevant. But today’s new knowledge economy is built more on the intangible value of people — who they are, what they know, and their ability to apply that knowledge. Instead of resources or land, capital today means human capital.

Unlike resources or land, however, human capital has control over its own worth. That is, human capital — knowledge workers — can continuously invest in their skills and training to drive up their price. In a world where practically every organization has access to a certain baseline level of technology, people are the difference maker. They’re the value adder. As a result, the best people are highly sought after. If they choose to leave a company in the morning, they’ll be hired by someone else by noon. They’re in the driver’s seat — and they know it.

You’ll find that today’s top performers have a couple things in common:

  • They’re competitive. Like athletes, top performers are driven to improve. They want to be better and faster, to break barriers, to achieve things no one has ever achieved before.
  • They’re individualistic. High-performing people want to be part of an elite team — but they also want to make a difference all on their own. The people you’re after need to know for selfish and unselfish reasons that they’ll be given the latitude to succeed both as part of a group and on an individual level.

In this world, value isn’t just about salary — not for the employer, and certainly not for the employee. Your search for a star candidate, or a job for that matter, should be value-focused and not salary-driven.

At Perry-Martel International, we know how to look for knowledge value. And just as you’d expect from the complexity of the human factors involved, it is an intensive process. What we bring to the table is a set of guidelines developed from years of experience in locating just such values, and the experience that lets us apply these guidelines quickly, on your behalf.

We know what’s important for today’s knowledge worker and we can bring these elements together for you.