The Best Firms to Work For, 2006 - Defining Talent

The results of Best Firms to Work For survey reveal an overwhelming amount of detail about the kinds of demands talent can expect to make, and precisely how firms are acquiescing.

The first time the word “talent” was used to refer to a skill or ability, historians tell us, was in the New Testament. Before then, a talent was known as a unit of mass, which was often used to measure a sum of money. The English poet, John Milton, who is responsible for coining modern words such as “self-esteem” and “jubilant,” later used it in a poem referring to the gift of sight. Today, in the world of consulting, it has acquired yet another meaning.In consulting, the word often denotes a type of individual or a group of individuals with certain characteristics. Talent is what consulting firms are moving mountains to attract. In a basic sense, the word refers to individuals who have a series of key characteristics that enable them to think creatively and work well in groups. Yes, a weighty degree from a top university or MBA program might suggest that an individual holds these qualities. But really, it’s about possessing the right mix of attributes, which are as elusive as those that make up the proverbial “it” factor in show business.