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Skills versus Jobs: Talent Mapping, Mobility, and Management in the Future of Work

March 26, 2021



Skills versus Jobs: Talent Mapping, Mobility, and Management in the Future of Work

Skills versus Jobs: Talent Mapping, Mobility, and Management in the Future of Work

Muriel Clauson brings a rich background in industrial and organizational psychology and psychometrics to the discussion about the importance of reorienting our employment focus from ‘jobs’ to ‘skills’. As co-Founder of Anthill—which enables adaptive talent management with employee buy-in using talent-mapping software—Muriel explains how we can emphasize people and skills, since talent, not technology, will ultimately determine competitive advantage.


[03:32] Muriel started in finance, but soon realized it wasn’t for her. What next?

[03:50] With a mentor and determination, she got a job, then did a PhD in industrial and organizational psychology.

[04:48] On a NASA program, looking at humanities’ challenges, she missed the connection to work.

[05:57] Muriel was asked to fill a keynote spot at short notice. Without experience, she stepped up!

[06:45] If you’re passionate about something, tell everyone!

[07:27] - How we have typically been cataloguing and defining different occupations—by KSAOs: knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics.

[08:40] Instead of thinking about how people can keep their jobs as automation comes to the forefront, what are people bringing to a work experience, starting with skills?

[09:40] Using a relationship database with a more understanding of people’s skills and their jobs, the projections on job replacement went down dramatically.

[11:25] Muriel wanted to change databases so technologies being created to navigate Future-of-Work changes would be built on top of data organized around skills.

[12:29] How executives need to help employees navigate work changes as technology won't be a real differentiator in the future, it will be people.

[12:42] Employers over-correct for a gap in skills, training everyone on that skill.

[13:50] The perfect world? Where each person understands all they bring to the table, what next steps they could take, where each could lead them, and what their priorities might be

[14:32] The 30 year linear “one” career is gone.

[15:08] How can companies best track and manage employees’ new non-linear careers?

[16:20] Public school systems still use the Strobe Test to assess what job someone should do, although it is most correlated to their parents’ socioeconomic status.

[17:51] Muriel helps companies think about the skills their people can bring to the table and develop a strategy and jobs around them.

[19:18] People leave companies not because they're disengaged or overworked, but because they don’t see a progression and a future.

[20:44] More enterprises are adopting a people-first approach, realizing treating people well is aligned with incentives.

[21:03] After a necessary mental shift, how can employers individualize skills’-based solutions at scale?

[22:56] What are YOUR skills today?

[24:20] Muriel digs into psychometrics to help people identify what their skills are.

[26:10] Context for different tests is important in order to understand what they are assessing.

[28:28] Using a relational database and much historical data, answering a few questions can generate a good hypothesis which is then refined.

[29:29] Sharing test results with employees so they also benefit from insights.

[30:59] The importance of establishing a culture of trust at organizations.

[32:28] The benefit of asking employees: What skills and interests are you not bringing to the table now that you’d like to use more of?

[37:01] The pandemic catalyzed many leaders to change their mindsets, strategies and thinking about work.

[39:06] Muriel has been surprised by the shift in executives’ approach to internal talent mobility.

[41:10] We do robust modeling for resources and companies, but not talent.

[41:55] Employers began to have more empathy—helping employees get the most out of work.

[43:00] Imagine employees feeling comfortable enough to say “Hey, I’m not feeling fully leveraged” so they can be moved to a new opportunity.

[44:14] Talking about the future of work, it always boils down to deciding between technology/profits or putting their people first, but it’s a false choice.

[47:09] Muriel considers how we can bridge the gap between employers and employees.

[48:35] As a new generation of graduates enter the workforce, what do they need to be aware of in this new work environment?

[50:40] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: The future doesn’t have a ‘type’. In a rapidly-changing world, there is no one type of person that is most ‘future ready’. Each of us has a seat at the table and plays a role in creating our future.


“There is so much more to people than job description.”

“I became obsessed with actually helping governments restructure their labor data in a way that was skills first.”

“When people started to take a skills-based approach, the projection on job replacement went down dramatically.”

“Technology actually won't be a real differentiator in the future, it will be people.”

“We have employees who want to learn and develop their career but lack that navigation on how to do it.”

“We need to come up with a way to help people really understand what they bring to the table.”

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