HomeLeadership & InnovationAnd Top Talent means….

And Top Talent means….

By Cathy Sims –

Having spent the last 20 years working in the talent space with an emphasis on young talent – be that leading a Corporate in attracting the very best graduate talent or leading a University Career Service and working with Corporates who want to hire the very best talent, I am still struggling to understand what top talent means.

Does top academic achievement mean top talent – well that is mostly how it is seen in South Africa.  But there are many other options as well.  What I do know is that Employers are looking for graduates who can get things done, take people with them…with a degree in…  That is probably closest to the truth and so eloquently said by a colleague who heads up a Global Talent team based out of Europe.

I have to say that there are some considerations which I think are worth debating – for example:

  • I haven’t personally seen any evidence that says that those who are on the Deans Merit List or a member of Golden Keys outperform their peers once in the world of work. Similarly I have not seen that someone with an Post Graduate Degree outperforms and Undergraduate – if there is, I would be delighted to hear more;
  • Just pursuing academic results at the expense of everything else will not get you to a diverse workforce – especially in South Africa where the legacy of Apartheid has had such a long and far reaching impact on our education system;
  • Assuming everything is not equal, how do we then hire the very best future leaders and not be so reliant on competency and really get to the crux of potential – and what does potential look like in your organisations.

So given that this has been so interesting, we at SAGEA have spent the last 8 years tracking graduates who might be of interest to you and could potentially be considered as top talent – let me tell you why I think so:

  • They all have been successful in securing an entry level position at arguably some of the leading graduate programmes and organisations in South Africa
  • 60% of the over 2 000 students that participated in our research received 2 offers or more on completion of their studies. This is not unique – this percentage has been consistent over the last 8 years.  In order to have received 2 offers or more, most of them have been through at least 6 different company selection processes – they know an awful lot about graduate recruitment – sometimes more than companies and the competitor analysis they have done.
  • They have very strong opinions on why they apply to companies and why they join companies. Development, reputation and future career prospects top the list of needs in applying as well as joining.  Coming closely after those are two things that are equally important – efficiency and quality of selection process – so they are evaluating you as much as you are evaluating them.
  • 57% indicated that they managed to get their first choice of employer in their first role – a further 36% said the company that they joined where in their top 3!

So I am sure you will agree, these are great candidates and definitely worth looking at!

Our research goes further to look at the profile of these high potential candidates, their job search preferences, where and how they look for positions, what opportunities and organisations are of interest to them, what the mystery is behind what they consider to be Employers of Choice, and their plans for the future.

So much to tell you – so little space…so watch our series over the next few months as we unpack this group of future leaders and their rise to the top.

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Executive Director, South African Graduate Employers Association (SAGEA)


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