When it comes to social media giant Facebook, we might be tempted to think that their greatest focus in hiring new talent has to do with tech-related positions. But as George Anders writes, the company “is in the midst of a skills quest that doesn’t involve its usual pursuit of software virtuosos.” Instead, he thinks Facebook is after people with people skills.
Anders reports that the sales and business development department at Facebook far outpaces any others in terms of hiring, coming in at 170 or so listings. The company has plenty of advertised positions in other areas of the company to be sure – areas we’d expect for the social networking site such as software engineering – but the highest demand for personnel lies squarely within sales.
Since the core of the company’s revenue comes from advertising, it makes sense they’re eagerly hiring in that arena. But Anders explains that the high demand for people in business development and engagement provides a “peek into the next decade’s career options for all of us.” This is because even at a time when marketing is fast and automated online, “it turns out that making deals come together still requires a human touch.” He argues that this reinforces a larger point that he’s convinced of, which is that although technology is changing the landscape of traditional employment, “the key to sustained employment will be to concentrate on the people skills that machines can’t copy.”
What does that mean? People skills matter more now than perhaps any time before. Anders points out that the most recent employment projections by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the greatest expansion in categories such as retail sales, customer service, and four sectors of health-care – all of which are customer or patient facing and human skills like empathy are pivotal. When automation is making more and more mechanical skills obsolete, it seems our interpersonal aptitude is quickly becoming the quality that ensures longevity.
Technology giants like Facebook may be growing and expanding, but if Anders is right, then as fast as technology may be scaling, it’s staying in tune with our human values and scaling them that enable us to keep up. Whether it’s the technological innovations of yesteryear such as the assembly line or today’s innovation in automated online marketing, his article highlights one truth: how we relate and interact with one another matters. In fact, Dov Seidman argues that in today’s interconnected world, how we behave matters more than ever before, and in ways it never has. (When one tweet can send a stock’s price plummeting, and so shareholders’ portfolios as well, our behavior can now have ramifications worldwide.) Seidman explains that this is the reason we’re seeing the phenomenon that Anders’ writes about, namely that what was once considered the “soft stuff” of people skills and relationship building is “quickly becoming the hard currency of advantage” for businesses.