AS THE world’s economies begin to recover from last year’s financial crisis, companies will start to hire more aggressively again.

The knowledge-based economy requires more highly skilled workers, and increasing competition and the first wave of retirements among baby boomers will encourage organisations to seek out new strategies to retain top talent in a tightening labour market.

One proven strategy is collaborative career management: helping your best people develop their talents and skills for positions within the context of your organisational needs, instead of watching helplessly while the competition lures them away.

First, from the perspective of individual employees, the notion of career planning indicates employee-driven choices and career exploration.

Second, and from the perspective of the organisation, career development points toward formalised programmes intended to drive employees along closely defined and strategic career paths.

The handling of these two sides of career management can make or break any workforce planning strategy. Keeping talent engaged, providing opportunities for development, helping them travel along a self-directed career path and striving to align their daily activities with company goals is crucial to retaining your human capital.

Today’s perception of career management means that career development is a lifelong process of mastering knowledge and skills.

Organisations today believe that the sharing of information helps workers in problem solving, strategic planning and decision making, and often saves them from “re-inventing the wheel” or going back over ground already covered.

Knowledge management also ensures that valuable information is captured and not lost when employees leave the company.

As more companies become aware of the benefits of knowledge management, their hiring patterns change as they search for “knowledge workers”.

These companies seek employees who understand the importance of sharing, cultivating and protecting information within the company.

Here are some qualities that employers look for in prospective employees in the knowledge-driven economy:

Team player

These are people who believe in sharing and transferring knowledge to their co-workers. Individualistic employees will not fit in so well in a knowledge-management environment.

IT-savvy

Workers who are adept at using knowledge-management tools such as the Internet, intranet, computerised databases, e-mail and video-conferencing will have an edge over other candidates.

Communication skills

People are able to contribute to the company’s knowledge base by writing comprehensive case studies and reports. Such workers will be able to translate ideas (tacit knowledge) and details into useful reference sources (explicit knowledge) for their colleagues.

Resourceful

Such workers are sought after because they actively seek and use, to the fullest advantage, information that is available in the company.

Research shows that gaps will persist across the job functions that are necessary to compete in a knowledge-driven learning economy, especially in areas such as sales and customer service, IT, finance, marketing and research and development.

Given the widespread acceptance that a talent shortage is a real business problem, organisations must take concrete action to formally counteract it.

Mr Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric Inc, understood the importance of making workers stakeholders in the new knowledge-driven economy.

He believed in creating an open collaborative workplace where everyone’s opinion was welcome.

He wrote in a letter to shareholders: “If you want to get the benefit of everything employees have, you’ve got to free them — make everybody a participant. Everybody has to know everything, so they can make the right decisions by themselves.”