Revisiting the Monumental Millennial Strategy

Revisiting the Monumental Millennial Strategy CoverWritten by: Doug Douglas

Transcript of webcast on 6/29/2016

I’m excited about our topic, and hope that you find it useful to your unique situations. The challenge for me, when leading any of these sessions, is that the audience is vastly different. Some are a 1 person HR team unto themselves, and others lead HR for a massive global brand – and then we have everything in between. So finding information and presenting it in a way that is useful to everyone is a daunting task, to say the least.

Several years ago, SHRM approached me about leading a webcast on a topic that people weren’t saying much about, but it was starting to generate some chatter in some circles. Millennials. Baby Boomers were retiring in big numbers, Gen X was active and engaged in the workforce, but people started doing the math and seeing that once the Baby Boomers retired, there weren’t enough Gen X’ers to fill in and there was going to be a gap in our workforce. Younger workers, the Millennials, were being looked at as the solution…but they were a bit different than previous generations.

So they asked me if I can do a webcast on who the Millennials are and what is important to them as they look towards their careers. Now, you need to understand, I hadn’t done research on Millennials. I didn’t have a book out on them. I wasn’t recognized as an expert on Millennials…but this was at the time when no one was really an expert on them. This was early on. The Millennials, for the most part, were in high school or maybe in college at this time. I agreed that I would begin researching the topic and put together a presentation.

What I discovered was that I actually knew this generation much better than I originally anticipated. Before I entered the corporate world, I had been a youth minister for close to 20 years. The kids that I worked with…they were Millennials. So as I researched this generation, I could clearly identify and affirm that the information that I was reading about them was in fact true. And this became something very interesting to me…I was fascinated and really fell in love with the topic.

I led the presentation for SHRM and the audience responded very positively. For the next few years, I was asked to come speak at conferences and events, to write blog posts and articles, and lead other webcasts that focused on Millennials. Eventually, everyone had become an expert on the topic, and a wealth of information was made available for anyone to find online.

So when SHRM approached me recently about leading a new webcast for them, they said they were thinking about Millennials. I felt like that topic had been worn out and examined from every angle…but then I came up with an idea. What if I went back to that original webcast and we evaluated how the information, the recommendations, the characterization, of Millennials actually lined up today. Were we on the mark? Were we way off? Have the Millennials adapted or morphed in some ways after they entered the workforce? Are we believing a myth in some areas where we need to readjust our focus?

So, that is what today’s session is going to cover. Let’s take a look back and see how we measured up, and also identify areas where we can have the most success today on attracting, managing, and retaining a Millennial workforce.

Getting Started…

Millennials have several different labels attached to them as unique identifiers. Gen Y, Gen Next, Echo Boomers, Screenagers, Baby on Board Generation, Facebookers, Net Geners. These are the 80+ million or so people born between 1981 and 2001.

A lot, and I do mean A LOT has been said about Millennials. Some of it accurate, some of it – not so much. It’s a topic of conversation that you’ll hear periodically around the office, and most often it’s not a Millennial talking about it. Is it possible that we are misreading their intentions and ambitions – assuming the worst about them instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt? Quite possibly. But some of the information out there is spot on, so how do you know what to believe…and for the sake of this presentation…how to attract, manage, and retain top Millennial talent.

As I was preparing for this presentation, I came across a piece that I couldn’t pass up. I typically don’t like to simply read to an audience, but this was so thought provoking that I’m willing to risk it. This was written by Erin Heilman for the Baltimore Sun. Listen as she describes and defends being a Millennial to her former employer.

Dear previous employer,

You may think that you have gotten the best of me, but you have not. I am a millennial. You may think that you have put me in a bad spot, but you have not. I am a millennial. You may think that you can threaten me, but I am not afraid. I am a millennial.

I didn’t write this letter on a program that I installed with a disc on my computer, I wrote it on the cloud. I didn’t grow up hungry during the Great Depression, I grew up safe and comfortable. I didn’t walk to school uphill both ways, I took a bus.

I was told from the time I was a baby that I was loved and special. Does this make me a worse person? No, it makes me strong and confident. And you may take my confidence for arrogance, but don’t be confused. I am confident because I have been guided by the teachers, mentors and loved ones in my life. I have studied history, biology, chemistry, writing, algebra, theology, music and social sciences, and I am better for it. I have moved from my hometown to another state, and I am stronger for it. I have met hundreds of people different from myself, and I am wiser for it.

So, when you tell me I can’t work from home; when you tell me I can’t have more time off; when you tell me I’ll only be allowed six weeks of unpaid maternity leave, I’ll tell you good-bye. Because when I grew up, people told me I could be anything. They told me I didn’t have to settle for “good enough.” They told me that there are many opportunities out there, and if I leave a job, another job will be waiting for me where I can be better and stronger.

These are the reasons why I left your company. You view me as difficult, I say I am uncompromising. Maybe you think I am not dedicated because I prefer to go home to my family by 5 p.m. I say I put my family first. The world is changing — not slowly, but quickly.

We are the generation rising. And soon we will be the VPs, the CEOs. And you’ll see a new kind of workplace, where family comes first. Because when you think millennials are the “me” generation, you miss the point. We know there is more to life than work. We know that family and friends, laughter and memories, matter so much more than working until you’re dog tired.

And you may disagree. Of course you do. That’s how you were raised. But this is how I was raised. I love my family. I love my friends. I love my life. I value the time I have away from work. I recognize that hard work will get me far in my career, but I understand the importance of balance and moderation that will lead to a happy life.

So think what you might about millennials. We are the optimistic future. While you ponder the good old days and tell me “that’s what’s wrong with the world today,” I will continue to make the world better.

We are the voices you hear now. We were quiet at first, but we are growing louder, and soon you will hear us shouting from the tops of mountains. As millennials, we fight to make our world fair. We see injustice and we act. We have been raised to know that we matter; each life matters. We demand better care, better government, better education, better technology, better food and better working conditions. And you will fade and we will brighten as your generation did in your time. Now it is our time.

Watch me. I will rise to a new height. I am a millennial.

As we begin this session, let’s go back and look at the top 3 points made regarding Millennials from several years back and see if the points ended up being true or false.

Flashback Point #1 – Technology

In my original webcast, a major point that I made was that Millennials were the first generation to grow up with a computer available to them every day of their lives. As a result, the online world has influenced this generation greatly – molded their thinking and actions, shaped the way that we communicate with each other, and how they considered the parameters or limits of their career options.

As we consider this point through the lens of today, there is no doubt that technology has been the single biggest influence on their expectations, behaviors, and level and methods of communication.

  • No longer do they only have to consider local jobs or move.
  • No longer do they check the want ads in the local newspaper.
  • No longer do they walk into your office and drop off a resume or fill out an application.
  • No longer do they drop by the office and wait in the lobby to ask about job openings – well, they do…but they aren’t supposed to!
  • No longer do they call the receptionist and just leave a message for you – they email you, seek you out on LinkedIn, contact mutual acquaintances and beg for introductions.

Millennial candidates have many more opportunities and tools available to them to try to get noticed and be considered for jobs…but only if you still have a human element involved in your recruitment efforts. Some companies primarily depend on technologies to accept the application, screen the resume, and eliminate candidates from consideration without any human eyes ever seeing their information.

It also must be said, Millennials understand and pick up technologies at a very rapid pace. They get it. They understand it. They figure it out quickly and become experts on it quickly. This ultimately helps our companies to be more productive and efficient.

Was this flashback information true or false?        TRUE

Flashback Point #2 – Eight Norms

nGenera conducted an interview in 2006 with Millennials. Out of that study came the “Eight Norms of the Net Generation.” These were patterns of behavior that are commonly found in Millennials.

These Eight Norms were:

  • Freedom
  • Customization
  • Scrutinizers
  • Integrity
  • Collaboration
  • Entertainment
  • Speed
  • Innovation

Let’s briefly look at each one and explain what was meant.

  • Work/Life Balance. They approach their careers by asking themselves, “How will this job fit into my social life?” The non-negotiable was the social life, not the job.
  • The ability to spend the majority of their time working on the elements of their jobs that they enjoy the most.
  • Strong online comparative analysis skills. They research their prospective employers and want to make sure they align with their own personal values and priorities. Deeply desire trusting and transparent relationships.
  • They will not follow questionable leadership. They are interested in your social responsibility stance and record.
  • They are, instinctively, interactive. They demand an environment where they can be involved in making decisions and providing solutions. Their voices must be heard.
  • They seek variety in their daily tasks. Flexibility to get work done, but not necessarily to be done within the hours of 8:00 to 5:00. Opportunities to learn or be mentored.
  • Constantly looking for ways to speed up productivity and response times. Looking to advance in their careers as quickly as possible. Personal and career growth opportunities.
  • They want to understand the problem they are trying to solve. They want to be challenged. Working on “the next big thing” is exciting for them.

As we review this list today, we can look at it in comparison to the Millennials that we know and work with. While there are always outliers, it looks to be largely on target and accurate. It’s interesting too to consider how companies, years ago, began to market themselves to this list. For example: Universum did a study on Millennials and they specifically asked, “If you could pick any company in the world to work for, where would it be?

25% of those respondents picked Google. But think about that a bit deeper. Out of any company in the world…how many options do you think that is? It’s estimated that there are 100 million companies in the world. So out of 100 million options, 25% of them all said the same place…Google. The obvious question becomes…”Why?”

What was interesting was that you could go to the “About Google” page, and you could see all 8 of the listed norms addressed in their description of what it would be like to work for them, making them very compelling for those who decided to look into employment there.

Was this flashback information true or false?        TRUE

Flashback #3 – Trophies

The third major point that was made focused on another factor that shaped the behaviors and expectations of our Millennial workforce. This is the generation that grew up when everyone got a trophy and we stopped keeping score. There was no distinction between the MVP and the bench warmer, all were treated and recognized equally.

Along with this philosophy came another wave of influence called “helicopter parents.” These were parents who stepped in – no matter how big or how small the issue – and handled it so little Johnnie or little Susie wouldn’t be overcome with stress and anxiety.

Now, I’m not here to debate with you if this was a good thing or a bad thing…you can have your own opinions on that. But there is no doubt that this has played a role in the behaviors, communications, expectations, and performance of Millennial workers. Universities have had to hire people to become parent liaisons. Some Millennials bring their parents with them to job interviews or ask them to negotiate salaries on their behalf. Feedback and affirmation are daily, sometimes hourly, expectations by some Millennials. It has been a shock to some to realize that at work, you have top performers, average performers, and under-performers – and not all are treated equally. You don’t receive participation promotions like you did trophies.

Managing Millennials is quite different than managing other generations. Some see it more as an advisor role, mentor role, or encourager. We will go a bit deeper on managing Millennials shortly. But for now,

Was this flashback information true or false?        TRUE

We’ve have seen that the anticipated projections regarding Millennials ended up bring true, but we can also learn from what has happened since they have entered the workforce. So let’s spend some time now looking at what we know to be true about them currently, and this will help us better identify how to attract, manage and retain this generation.

Millennial Statistics

  • 57% of millennial adults are white. In comparison – 72% of Baby Boomers are white, and 61% of Gen X is white. It is predicted that the US will become a minority majority nation in 2043. (US Census Bureau)
  • Millennials outnumber Baby Boomers by 11 million people currently.
  • 34% of Millennials have at least a Bachelor’s Degree. 88% of minimum wage workers are 20+ years old and 40% of them have a college degree.
  • 12% of Millennials (ages 25-32) are unemployed – 22% of them are below the poverty line.
  • In the 1960’s, the average age for an adult to get married (for the first time) was 20 years old for women and 23 years old for men. When it comes to Millennials, the average age for women is 27 and for men it’s 29. 25% of Millennials are projected to never get married.
  • In just 3 ½ years, Millennials will become the majority of the workforce (2020).
  • 64% say it’s a priority to make the world a better place
  • 72% want to be their own boss
  • 88% prefer a collaborative environment to a competitive environment
  • 85% of companies have changed policies specifically to appeal to Millennials

As you can see by those details, the benefits that many of our companies offer may not be as appealing as we anticipated – meaning, that they might not be as much of a factor to Millennials when considering their options. Benefits still matter, just not to the degree that we sometimes assume and the type of benefit matters. For example:

Millennials Most Desired Benefits (according to MindTickle survey):

  • 22% desire additional training and development
  • 19% desire flexible work hours
  • 14% desire cash bonuses
  • 8% desire free private health care
  • 6% desire more vacation time
  • 6% desire pension/retirement funding

The trend has been that we have tried to make offices more Millennial friendly, a more appealing Millennial culture, by adding ping pong tables, video games, free food, expensive coffee machines, and of course Apple everything. They don’t mind wearing flip flops to work, having a keg in the break area to end the day, or getting Starbucks discounts. The problem is, those are nice to haves…not must haves.

In an article written by Jessica Pawlarczyk (who is a Millennial herself) called, “Your Ping Pong Table is Worthless,” she provides us with a list of intangible benefits that attract Millennials.

  • Professional Development – This would include things like: mentoring, professional development seminars, or teambuilding activities. 89% of Millennials agree that it is important to be constantly learning on the job.
  • Autonomy – There is nothing worse than a manager who is a micromanaging maniac. With some breathing room, they can be creative and feel a heightened sense of responsibility.
  • Shared Achievement – Create a culture where your Millennials feel like stakeholders – or better yet, give them profit sharing and they actually become stakeholders. They long to feel more invested in the company and that their individual achievements can contribute to the larger company as a whole.
  • Flexibility – 89% of Millennials prefer to choose when and where they work. The traditional 9 to 5 is old school to them in an online world. Where possible, consider flexible in-office hours, half-day Fridays, occasional work from home days, or other creative options.
  • Creative Freedom – According to Deloitte’s 3rd annual Millennial Survey, 78% of Millennials are influenced by how innovative a company is when deciding if they want to work there.” Foster innovative thinking amongst this group.
  • Alignment of Values – Your moral history, environmental footprints, social causes, mission statements are all things that Millennials consider. You cannot just have the words printed on a banner or placed on your website…your company needs to live it and breathe it.
  • Challenging Opportunities – Be careful of boredom. If a job becomes too easy, then boredom will come. Challenge them. Offer them opportunities to try more difficult tasks.

As we went through her list, you could see that many of them fall in line with the Eight Norms that were predicted a few years back. They have remained consistent, but maybe new ways to approach them, new solutions, have come into play to satisfy their career desires.

Another area that was encouraged a few years ago was establishing mentoring opportunities. We’ve already mentioned it briefly today as well. While it can certainly be beneficial for a younger, less experienced, worker to be matched up with a more experienced employee – explaining issues, demonstrating problem solving skills, secrets to success, etc. – some companies have also flipped the model so the company, and experienced workers, can learn from the Millennial. In some circles, this is referred to as “Reverse Mentoring.” Millennials can often teach others how to more effectively use technology for the success of the company, or how to implement better social media efforts. More senior workers are sometimes timid or cautious when it comes to technology and are afraid to experiment with it. So, mentorships – both directions – might be a compelling option for you.

Managing & Retaining Millennials…

Attracting and retaining Millennials are very closely associated. Some of the very things that attract them to your company also must be maintained or built upon in order for you to retain them. According to Achieve’s Millennial Impact Report, other than compensation, the two primary influences that lead Millennials to stay with a company are:

  • 53% – Having their passions and talents used to the fullest.
  • 20% – Believing in the company’s mission and purpose.

As a matter of fact, more than half of Millennials say they would take a 15% pay cut to work at a company that matches their ideals. For some companies, this has been a shift from the old mentality of “We’re going to drive you into the ground.” to one of “Let’s try to keep you around.”

Examples of the “Keep You Around” Philosophy

Ann Donovan, Managing Director at PwC (Price Waterhouse Coopers) says, “We’ve all smartened up. We’re trying to create a guilt-free zone.” In doing so, they have loosened the reigns so employees can go to yoga every Tuesday or they can attend their kids’ weekly games. For those consultants who are road warriors traditionally – they try to alternate team members to a client site each week, or having them arrive at the client site on Monday afternoon instead of Monday mornings so they can stay at home on Sunday nights.

Caitlin Storhaug, Head of Recruitment Marketing at McKinsey, says they have changed their expectations of “up or out” where people had to leave if they didn’t advance at regular intervals. McKinsey employees are allowed to take 5 to 10 weeks between projects (unpaid) to pursue any personal interests they might have. This is on top of their regular PTO.

Ilene Siscovick, Partner at Mercer, says they have changed their promotion and rewards system. Instead of promoting from Job A to Job B, now they may make a move to Job A1 and then A2 before they get to B. They have incremental raises that are in place for each of those steps.  She says, “Administratively, it’s a little more complex. But it could be a win-win because you’re recognizing good performance and employees feel like they are progressing.”

They have also changed their employee review systems to eliminate their number system. Most managers would score someone a “3” which means “meets expectation.” But to a Millennial, a 3 means “average,” and no one wants to be average. They have moved to a “qualitative assessment” monthly or quarterly, instead of just an annual review.

Barr Engineering Company is an employee owned consulting firm located in Minnesota. Cathy Klopp is an HR Generalist there. She refers to their style as a “free market structure.” Employees do not have a specific boss. They choose projects that they would like to work on, and as an individual contributor, they’ll report to the manager of their selected project. Other times, they are the manager. If they work long hours, then they get to choose between overtime pay or receiving comp days.

What Millennials Are Looking For in a Leader

You’ve probably heard the quote before, “People don’t leave jobs, they leave their manager.” Leadership, managing, it looks much different today than it has in the past. According to a study by Deloitte:

  • 19% of today’s Millennials value a visible manager
  • 17% of today’s Millennials value a well-networked manager
  • 17% of today’s Millennials value a technically skilled manager
  • 39% of today’s Millennials value a strategic thinker as a manager
  • 37% of today’s Millennials value an inspirational manager
  • 34% of today’s Millennials value a personable manager
  • 31% of today’s Millennials value a visionary as a manager

The first 3 are the more traditional types of criteria that people were evaluated by as a manager, but the bottom 4 are the ways that managers are evaluated by the Millennials of today. How do your managers stack up to this?

Millennials are far more likely to have high levels of job satisfaction when they work in a creative, inclusive, working culture (76%). Only 49% of Millennials prefer to work in an authoritarian, rules based approach. Here are some other thoughts that we can find from Deloitte’s research:

  • 47% prefer a free flowing and open communication environment
  • 42% prefer an environment of mutual support and tolerance
  • 40% want a strong sense of purpose beyond financial success
  • 38% want an active encouragement of ideas among all employees
  • 34% want support and understanding of the ambitions of younger employees

In an average work week, it is estimated that the following number of hours are spent focused on the following:

  • 3 hours discussing new ideas and ways of working
  • 7 hours developing leadership skills
  • 8 hours working on emails
  • 4 hours receiving coaching / mentoring

But to a Millennial, here are their expectations:

  • 6 hours discussing new ideas and ways of working
  • 5 hours developing leadership skills
  • 1 hours spent on emails
  • 6 hours receiving coaching / mentoring

As you can easily see, the expectations of Millennials, and the reality of how we manage them, are immediately an issue. I don’t share this information so every employer will run out and change their time allotment to match the desires of Millennials – but just so you’ll have the information and can understand their expectations. If you begin to see a disconnect in some ways, maybe it falls in one or more of these areas.

As many Baby Boomers have already retired, or moving in that direction at a rapid pace, Gen X has often been targeted with managing Millennials. There are certainly some differences between these two generations, but understanding them is a good place to start so conversations and planning can be established. I’ve given you a lot of info on Millennials already, so let me spend a couple of minutes on Gen X and specifically the issues that might arise with them in management roles.

Mia Zaslove, who is featured in Fortune and Inc, had this to say about Gen X Managers:

  • X’ers grew up in a largely hands-off culture. They experienced a large amount of freedom growing up. As kids, they could safely be out of the sight of their parents for long periods of time. Millennials, due to technology and the ease of staying in contact (as well as changing norms for parenting), weren’t out of their parents’ sight until their teenage years (helicopter parents)
  • Millennials have grown up with a lot more encouragement than X’ers received. As a result, Millennials feel comfortable to share their opinions, even when they are just beginning a job. X’ers generally believe that you have to pay your dues before you are entitled to share an opinion.
  • When working with an X’er, don’t be surprised or offended if they choose to work alone. They are more independent. They often will not tell you how to do every step of the job, but allow you to figure it out.
  • X’ers tend to be hands off, low face time managers.
  • X’ers weren’t regularly praised growing up, unlike Millennials. So, if you work for an X’er, don’t expect a lot of praise. However, when you do receive a compliment from an X’er, then you’ve done a great job!

I generally have trouble making blanket statements that sound like they are true in all cases. Obviously there are X’ers who are beloved and respected by Millennials, and they get along very well with each other. We can never say that something is always true in every situation when speaking of generational differences.

For example, I am an X’er. Pew Research has an online test you can take that tells you “How Millennial Are You?” So, for fun, I took it. I shared with you earlier, I spent 20 years working with teenagers and those teenagers are now the Millennials that we’ve been discussing. So, I think I really get them and understand them to a high degree. Apparently Pew Research agrees…

If you’d like to take this test, you can go to:

I’ve been saying for years that I don’t have a problem with Millennials. Are they unique in some ways? Yes. But maybe, just maybe, we are all pretty Millennial in our expectations. Think back to when we were just starting our careers, ask ourselves:

  • Did I want to spend most of my days working on things that I enjoyed?
  • Did I appreciate feedback and encouragement along the way?
  • Was work/life balance something that I would have liked?
  • Would I have preferred to work for a company that wanted to develop me as a leader?

See, no matter the generation that we belong to, we’ve all wanted the same core things. Millennials are just the first to step up and demand them.  We aren’t so different as employees. Now the approach to work, the tools considered to do that work, the style of communication between others, work style habits…those are areas where we revert back to how we have grown up and what comes most naturally to us.

Wrap Up…

As we begin to conclude this session, let me just say this. I believe there are some industries that are already and will continue to suffer as they attempt to attract Millennials to their industries. There are some who haven’t done a good job in marketing themselves to this demographic early enough. Skilled trades, manufacturing, labor, production…they tend to have worker shortages. They’ve spoken about it for years…they’ve had me come and speak about them for years…but everyone believed they were too busy to do the things needed to prepare for the great crew change and attracting younger workers to their teams. Now they are in a tough spot.

Some of the suggestions that were made in the presentation today, they just won’t apply to each and every situation. If they want variety in their work, and you need workers on an assembly line – there isn’t much diversity in their tasks. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other areas that we’ve discussed where you can make some adjustments to make yourself more appealing.

The good news is, when I first started speaking about Millennials several years ago, they were expected to stay at their jobs just 18 months before leaving for a new job. Now that number has risen. Now they anticipate being in their current role for 3-4 years before considering a change. However, if they have career growth opportunities, work/life balance, believe they are making a difference, they believe in what the company stands for…that number climbs much higher as they would stay with that company. Why has this happened? In part, because of the efforts made over the past few years to change policies to be more friendly to Millennials. But I think it goes a bit deeper. I think the demands that Millennials have made have caused those in leadership positions to ponder just what kind of companies they want to have. They didn’t just make those changes for the Millennials sake, but because all workers can benefit from them.


I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s presentation. Please feel free to reach out to me and connect. If you’ll reference that you were on the webcast today, send me a LinkedIn invitation and I’ll accept. Send me additional questions if you think of them at a later time. LinkedIn is the best place to connect with me, or even on Facebook. I don’t do Twitter, so don’t waste your time there.

Thanks so much everyone and have a great rest of your day!


The Class of 2014: Is the Future Dim or Bright?

Class-Of-2014-4In my professional life, I spend most of my time with executives and business leaders discussing workforce issues. Most of the concerns that are raised are with the younger generation who is entering the workforce. They are most often described as:

  • Self-centered
  • Lazy
  • Lacking interpersonal skills
  • Uncommitted

Company turnover rates are too high as they tend to move from job to job. Communication styles have changed as our technologies have changed, so texting, blogging, posting, has often replaced looking someone in the eye and having a verbal conversation. Many of today’s younger workers aren’t interested or aren’t planning on taking jobs that involve manual labor because technology is such a big part of their lives, and let’s face it, they do a better job of marketing opportunities to young adults than construction, oil & gas, or skilled trades do.

But in my personal life, I spend most of my time around students. My daughter is wrapping up her sophomore year of high school. She’s very involved in basketball with her school and in an AAu program. I help develop players for the basketball program at her school, so I am around students almost every night and weekend. There will always be those who are the poster children for the descriptions above, but not all of them. Not even most of them.

I’d like to share a few students with you that I’ve spent time with this year who are seniors – about to graduate and head off to college to begin their serious pursuit of a career. These students have genuinely impacted me and made me feel good about their potential to succeed and make others around them better.

Samantha – I’ve known Sam for a couple of years now. My first impression of her was that she was tough and not very personable or friendly. But as I’ve gotten to know her, I see her quite differently. She played basketball and was apart of my AAU program last year. She was a tireless worker on the court and a leader among the other girls. She was entering her senior year and it looked very bright for her. But just a few games into the season, injuries knocked her out for the rest of the year, and for the rest of her sports career. Obviously she was disappointed and saddened, but she stayed with her team and became their biggest cheerleader. She would sit on the bench and help younger players to understand what was happening on the court. Very positive on the court, but weeping off the court as the season didn’t work out the way she envisioned. Sam is smart, funny, driven, supportive, and the ultimate team player. She’s a leader. Sam wants to be a teacher and I believe she will be an amazing one!

Martin – Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time with Martin and get to know him. Positive. Energetic. Strong interpersonal skills. Funny. Professional. His ambitions are to study some sort of neuroscience as it relates to sports injuries, or possibly physical therapy. I have extremely high expectations for him in his career. He is infectious with his enthusiasm for life and relationships. I see him being a leader throughout his career and his life. It would be very advantageous for a company to snatch him up now for an internship and begin to cultivate a relationship with him.

Patrick – I was able to meet and work with Patrick as he was preparing to go compete in a state competition for his school. He would be competing in the area of sales presentations. He had a product that he needed to present, be able to speak about the capabilities and nuances of the product, and answer questions regarding it. He did an excellent job! I have been around lots and lots of sales people over the years and Patrick has a VERY bright future ahead of him. He’s a gentle giant – friendly, engaging, humble, gracious, very strong communication skills, and the ability to present technical information in an easy to understand manner. I know lots of CEO’s in the Austin area who ought to give this guy an internship immediately! When he finishes that business and marketing degree, he will be unstoppable.

Gaebri – What an accomplished young lady! She is the captain of the dance team for the school. I spent each night last week around Gaebri as it was their end of the year Spring Show. 3 hours of non-stop music and dancing from the various dance groups in the school and area. Not only did Gaebri dance in the show, but she danced at least 15 dances and she choreographed the vast majority of the show. She has incredible talent, but that wasn’t the main thing that grabbed my attention. She was so at ease in the middle of all of that chaos around her. I’ve never seen anything like that! She is driven. She’s competitive. She has great attention to detail. She’s a multi-tasker galore! But she is well grounded, humble, kind, approachable, and a joy to be around. With the work ethic that she has, there’s no doubt that she is going to be successful at whatever she wants to pursue. There’s no doubt in my mind.

These four young people are incredible in their own unique ways! If we were to take the descriptions that business leaders have for this generation and compare them to these four people – they totally destroy those preconceived notions. There are many others that I could have mentioned as well. Look, I evaluate talent for various companies in multiple industries. I’m paid to be skeptical and only promote those who really are the best of the best. While none of these four students could come in today and be top producers in most organizations, I believe all of them could be quickly with training, mentoring, internships, and opportunities.

I feel good about the future workforce. Not everyone will be like the four that I’ve introduced to you today, but many of them are hard working, dedicated, loyal, personable, do the right thing kind of people. Good luck Class of 2014! I see great things ahead for you!


If This Then That

jobless-282x300As I watched the news the past couple of days, the newest hot debate is over extending unemployment benefits. The previous extension has expired, and the politicians – as always – are looking for a “winning” argument to score political points for the next election. It seems like the easiest thing to do for a politician is go around saying that the pursuit of happiness includes a free house, free healthcare, free education, free car, free smartphones, free money to everyone….who wouldn’t be for getting all of those things for free? The problem is, they aren’t free even when a politician labels it that way. The money has to come from somewhere…as with extending unemployment benefits. So the Democrats are saying that they need to extend them again and give the unemployed a safety net (even though it was previously a 99 week safety net), and the Republicans are saying that they aren’t opposed to extending unemployment benefits, but they need to be paid for somehow.

This debate continues throughout the media as well. Analyst come on and say that extending unemployment benefits causes people to be less eager to get back to work. Why not exhaust all of the “free money” that you can get, relax a bit, and then buckle down and get back to work? There’s no doubt that some play the system in this manner. I admit that there may be some reason why some would need 99 weeks to find a job, but I would think those cases should be very rare. People can get a job doing something, or maybe even a second or third job – I’ve worked 3 jobs before in the past. They may not be the jobs that they are accustomed to or want, but when it comes to providing for your family, you take what you can get.

But then today, I heard the debate that said there are approximately 4 million jobs available in the US, so why is unemployment still high? I have a couple of thoughts on that:

  1. Some people are playing the system and would rather take the “free money” for as long as possible than to go back to work immediately. Now for those who say there’s no way that’s true, please understand that I work in the recruiting industry. I speak with unemployed all of the time. I can’t tell you how many times I have called someone with a job opportunity and was told straight out that they weren’t interested in working right now, but would rather take some time off and enjoy their unemployment. They did, however, offer to call me back after those benefits ran out and see if I had anything for them then.
  2. The second reason, and really one that not many people have discussed, is that the generational shift in our workforce has also left us with many open positions that Gen Y just aren’t that interested in doing. In 2012, over 10 million skilled labor jobs went unfilled in the US – but unemployment nationally was around 8% during that same time and unemployment for Gen Y at the same time was 11.5%. So we have to ask ourselves “If this then that?”

Jobs are available. Many of them are skilled labor jobs and Gen Y just hasn’t shown much of an interest in take a job that requires them to work long hours, get dirty, get sweaty, or learn a very specialized skill. I don’t know that they are necessarily opposed to it, they likely have never had those opportunities addressed with them before or early enough in their life where they can make it their ambition. Here’s an example of conversations that I have had with unemployed Gen Y when I was recruiting entry level workers for an oilfield company:

Me: What are you doing currently?

Gen Y: I’m looking for a great job, but right now I’m working at a fast food restaurant to get by.

Me: Have you ever considered working in the oilfield?

Gen Y: No. I know it’s a big industry but I don’t know anything about it.

Me: I can get you into an entry level job right now and you don’t need any previous oilfield experience. Now, you would start off making $12-15/hr.

Gen Y: Well, that’s what I make now. Why change?

Me: Well, that’s just your base pay. You get a lot of overtime pay working in the oilfield. Even though you are making $12-15/hr, with your overtime and bonuses and the like, you will end up making around $50,000 – $60,000 your first year. The company also pays for 100% of your healthcare benefits for you and your family. The biggest thing though is that they are going to teach you a trade. You’ll come in entry level and be assigned a more senior team member who will train you and explain to you why they do what they do. You’ll learn all of the tricks of the trade. And if you work hard and will be dedicated for 12-18 months, you’ll have the opportunity to promote into a more senior role.  When you get that promotion, your pay will increase to $18-24/hr, again, with a lot of overtime. You’ll get job bonuses, day bonuses, they pay for your meals and lodging when you are on the road, etc. Now you’ll be bringing in $80,000 to $100,000 in just your 2nd or third year. Now let me ask you, where else can you have no experience, take an entry level job, get the training you need and a career path that leads you to $80,000 to $100,000 a year in just a couple of years of hard work and dedication? Want to stay at your fast food restaurant?

Gen Y: No sir. I think I’d like to know more about the job and find out what I need to do to apply.

I’ve found that when a younger worker is informed about the possibilities that are available in a skilled trade role, they are open to it. Not all will be. Some just don’t want to work long hours and get dirty and the things that go along with it, but many would be interested. If that weren’t true, we wouldn’t have a military. They work long hours. They travel and are away from home for periods of time. They get dirty and sweaty. They work in rough conditions.

Those companies who are in the skilled trades have typically done a poor job of promoting themselves at key influential moments in a young person’s life. Waiting until after they have gone to college, or even completed college, is often way too late to make your pitch. By then, they have spent a lot of money majoring in something and they have this vision in their mind of what their career will look like. That vision often doesn’t include the things that I’ve discussed in this piece.

Gen Y also should investigate the opportunities that are available to them, even though it might not match that pretty picture they’ve drawn in their minds. Not everyone works in an office or from home. Not everyone has a flexible schedule that allows them to work at 3:00 in the afternoon, or at 3:00 in the morning, depending on what is most convenient for you that day. Hard work should never be looked down on or mocked…it provides you with a career, income, self satisfaction, and pride in a finished product.

How “Everyone Gets a Trophy” Has Impacted Us

trophyI was born in 1967. From my earliest of days, I remember being competitive. I remember playing football in the neighborhood with friends and always having to win. I remember having a basketball goal in my driveway and imagining hitting game winning shots at the final buzzer to win a championship. I remember playing checkers with my dad and not just wanting to win…but wanting to destroy him! I grew up in a musical family too, so competition was present their as well. If there was a talent show, I was going to win 1st place and get the biggest trophy. If there was a play or a musical, I would have the lead or the best solo. Winning was highly encouraged in my home growing up.

When I finished high school and college, I started to hear about youth sports leagues that were not going to keep score anymore, or that gave everyone the same trophy at the end of the season – not based on performance or achievement – just because they didn’t want anyone to feel inferior to someone else. I admit, I am not a psychologist and I have no idea how devastating it could be to an 8 year old if they came in 3rd place compared to 1st place. I guess there are those who would grow up to live in isolation and lack the interpersonal skills to be able to function in an adult world if they were edged out for the MVP of their soccer league at age 11. This whole concept was so foreign to me because of the way that I grew up.

As a young adult, I began working with junior high and high school students, and continued for almost 20 years. These were the very kids that grew up in the “everyone gets a trophy” age. And now, they are known as Gen Y or Millennials. I understand this generation, I believe, much better than most others would because I was so involved with them during those formative years. And now, as the Managing Director and Partner of a recruiting firm in Austin, Texas (Providence Partners), I see exactly how the “let’s not keep score” mindset has impacted their behaviors and thinking.

Employers now have had to change the way that they manager this generation. They’ve had to invest in technologies and tools that allow deeper collaboration and communication. The way recruiting is done is transforming because of some of the impact that the trophy mindset helped to establish. We now have 80 million people in or entering the workforce who have a deep need for immediate and constant reassurance of their value and the approval of the work they are doing. They hunger for quick responsive feedback. They have this need to feel involved in the strategic and inner thinking of an organization and feel that there should be no chain or command…that their ideas and thoughts should be just as valued as the CEO or a VP.

Gen Y or Millennials have this reputation for being uncommitted to their employers and always looking to transition into another job. I can see that and know that it happens. But the companies who have the most success in maintaining their Gen Y workforce are the ones who have adapted their management styles, recruitment strategies, and communication styles to adapt to the way they are wired. In a way, they still expect the trophy at the end of the week – only now it comes in the form of recognition, compliments, reassurance, and feeling valued in the work they do. If you want to see similar results, try making a few adaptations in your approach and see what happens!

How Millennial Am I?

Millennial_Generation_988325972Pew Research Center has an online quiz that will tell you the answer to that question. Technically, I am Gen X – and about as Gen X as you can get when you look at the dates associated with each generation. However, I tend to find myself thinking and behaving more like a Millennial, or Gen Y. See, I was a Student Pastor at various churches for almost 20 years before I entered the corporate world, and the students that I worked with…they are Millennials. I understand them. I know how how they communicate. I know how they reason. I know how they go about solving a problem. I get them. So as I began this quiz, I was fairly confident that my score would indicate that I am Very Millennial. Not so.

Apparently, you cannot be Millennial and be a Conservative, or attend church regularly…points are deducted from your score if these are true of you. Good Millennials must be Liberal and scoff at the notion of religion. I’m curious about why these would lower your score when Millennials were the groups that started doing lots of volunteer and mission work all over the world through the churches and youth groups that they grew up in. Where did they get that world view? I admit that a large portion of the generation leaves organized religion after they leave for college, but research also shows that they come back to it once they get married and start having families of their own.

On the other issues that this quiz addresses, I scored highly and my final score put me perfectly between Gen X and Millennial. Too bad I wasn’t an Obama fan, because that would have tilted it in my favor!

My Millenial Score

I applaud Millennials for the things that they demand of employers:

  • Collaborative work environments
  • Transparency
  • Variety in the work they do
  • Emphasis on work/life balance
  • Remote work possibilities
  • Receiving feedback and encouragement for their efforts
  • Social consciousness

Gen X, Baby Boomers, we all wanted those same things in the generations before them, but we just didn’t demand it. Previous generations were happy to have a job, and we committed to that job – even if they didn’t reward us the way we felt they should. Millennials will commit to a company, and if they aren’t treated the way they felt they should be, they’ll leave….and maybe go start their own company and become your competition! The more I reflect on this, I want to be a better Millennial!!!

The New Recruiting Paradigm

The New Recruiting Paradigm Cover








The New Recruiting Paradigm

Doug Douglas – National Engagement Manager at Stark Talent

Presented on – 2/27/13



In my day to day responsibilities, I work with HR executives and leaders who are either having issues with attracting the right talent for their open positions and we take on recruiting responsibilities on their behalf, or I help them look at their current processes, strategies, and technologies and make recommendations on areas where improvement can be made that will give the organization the best chances possible of attracting great candidates. And one of the things that I have been focused on heavily for more than a year now is the next generational workforce (Gen Y / Millennials). This generation is very unique and the old tried and true methods of recruiting that most of us have been using for the past decade or two just simply will not appeal to them. So, I’ve spent a lot of time researching them and looking at the best methods of attracting, managing, and retaining Gen Y. We’ll be discussing  that some later in this broadcast.


The problem with leading a session on new trends is that by the time it is recognized as a trend, it means it has pretty much already become a norm. If it’s already become a norm, and you are just now hearing about it, then it means you are already behind everyone else and new trends are already being established. It’s a vicious cycle but lends validity to the old adage that the only thing constant is change.

The other challenge that I face as a presenter is that I have a diverse audience today. Some are senior executives at major world-wide global brands that everyone recognizes, and others may be a newly hired Recruiter for a company with 25 people and a small budget who still thinks newspaper ads are cutting edge. I have decision makers on this call, and I have junior level staff on this call. It is difficult for me to organize a presentation where everything that I present is targeted directly to your unique individual needs and circumstances.

So today, I will just tell you what I see happening in the recruiting world. I’ll help you understand why some of the traditional aspects of recruiting don’t work as effectively any longer. I’ll tell you about new approaches where organizations are having success. And I’ll even try to give you a glimpse of the future of recruiting.

Current State of Recruiting

As I consider where recruiting is today, I have a mixed reaction to it. On one hand, it is exciting because we literally have 24/7 capabilities of getting the word our regarding our organizations and specific needs within those organizations. Technology is a powerful tool for recruiters to tap into to get the most of their efforts. When we consider the interactive nature of what technology can bring to us, it’s mind boggling the possibilities.

On the other hand though, I believe we might be leaning too much on the technologies that are available and neglecting the human element of what we do. A candidate can now apply for a position and go through a recruitment process, be eliminated from a search, and no human eyes ever once saw that candidate. That might be a great accomplishment for some on this call, but I wonder…if it was you who applied for a position that you felt like you were greatly qualified for, and you jumped through all of the recruiting hoops they asked you to, and then you were eliminated from consideration by a computer without a single person taking a few moments to take a look – would you still consider that a great accomplishment?

It is my belief that technologies can make our jobs easier as recruiters:

  • It allows us to publish jobs at various locations with just the click of a button.
  • It allows us to set up pre-screen questions to filter the best from the rest.
  • It allows us a database to store all of our client, hiring manager, job, and candidate information where it is searchable and reportable.
  • It allows us to share calendars online so candidates can look at available times and schedule a time to speak to recruiters without having to pick up a phone and leave messages back and forth until we finally catch each other.
  • It allows us to have video interviews and not have the extra expense of traveling all over the country to meet with people who may or may not be the right fit.

There are definite benefits of using technologies and making the process more efficient and convenient for all involved.

But what technology doesn’t always do is consider the human element and common courtesies. And it’s not always the technology’s fault – it’s the people who create the processes behind them. For example:

  • CareerBuilder recently did a survey of 3,991 people and 75% said they never heard from the company that they applied with. Nothing. Not an email. Not a phone call. Not a text message. Nothing. Total silence.

Think of it this way…

Consider that you are working a Career Fair. You have your booth set up. You have job descriptions for all of your open jobs printed and laying on the table in your booth. You place a basket in front of each job description so if a job seeker comes by and is interested in that job, they can set their resume in the basket for the opening. One by one job seekers come by and drop their resume in the appropriate basket, and they try to engage with you by speaking with you and offering their hand to shake hands with you – but you just ignore them, sitting their checking your email on your smartphone, and never even make eye contact with them.

What do you think their opinion is of you as they walk away? And even more importantly, what do you think their opinion of your brand, your company, is when they walk away? That same survey that CareerBuilder did indicated that 22% of those people would tell others not to work for that company based on how their application was treated. 32% said they were less inclined to buy the products or services of that company.  (

Charles Dickens wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Although I don’t believe he was referring to our current state of recruiting, I think he captured my thinking towards it as it stands today.

Evolving Trends

Creativity to make recruitment more fun or interesting is a big portion of what I see occurring often. Having a talent portal with a list of jobs posted is still the dominant way that people let their needs be known, but more and more are finding creative ways to engage pools of potential candidates through interactive and less formal looking means.


  • This site allows companies to set up a free Virtual Career Fair booth.
  • Companies present a challenge to a business need they have and students or others come up with solutions for the need.
  • Winners can get internships, cash awards, or even full-time employment.
  • This is being used by Microsoft, Facebook, IBM, Kayak, John Deere, Box, Intuit


Just recently launched, Throng is a mobile app for both iPhone and Android. Users put in their job search criteria in a very simple and casual looking format. Alerts are then given to the user to let them see openings that match their search criteria. There is a YouTube video that demonstrates how this app works.


This is a reputation ranking site. It rates its users based on both hard skills and soft skills and awards the top performers. There’s a video on the homepage that explains in more detail. This is specifically designed to focus on IT talent.

These creative approaches are finding solid results. Obviously, you have to research and see what are the possibilities for you and your organization based on time, people, resources, etc.

The US Army was one of the first to take this approach. They launched a game called America’s Army and this has generated great results in their recruiting efforts. L’Oreal launched Brandstorm in an effort to recruit marketing professionals. IBM launched CityOne, an interactive game that targets business professionals, city planners, and government agencies.

Those are full fledge games, but maybe there are things that you can do to your current technologies that will add some flare as well.

Do you have a Linked In profile or a Facebook profile? On it, it tells you how complete your profile is and tells you what you need to do to get it closer to 100%. My OCD kicks in and I cannot have less than 100% completeness – that is completely unacceptable, so I go back and back and back until I get that to 100%.  Maybe this is a possibility for your candidate profiles when they register for your Talent Community.

This doesn’t appeal to me much personally – but apparently it does to lots of other people or we wouldn’t see this everywhere, but have gold stars or badges that candidates are rewarded with each time they come to your site and complete a poll, or “Like” your Facebook corporate page, or downloaded a whitepaper.

Day In the Life Videos. Many organizations have produced videos showing what it would be like to have the job that the candidate is interested in. Starbucks, Sherwin-Williams, and Key Bank have used these and they feel that it produced great results.

Before you write this off and consider it to be childish, research shows that around 35% of C-suite executives play video games, and 97% of Generation Y plays them. If they are going to play games anyway, why not find a way to penetrate that and use it to your advantage?

Mobile Must

According to Simply Hired’s recent research, 70% say they search for jobs on their smartphones (86% say would they like to use their smartphone). The problem is that only 7% of employers have a mobile version of their career website, and only 3% have a mobile job app. Add to that, only 9% of websites are optimized for mobile use. Ummm…..we have a problem.

Here are the suggestions that Simply Hired made for employers after their research…

  • Develop mobile optimized sites – specifically the Careers and About sections of your site
  • Enable tracking data to determine which devices candidates are using and well as their location
  • Create an app for videos, actions, or touch capabilities / for static info, just create a mobile site
  • Add contact pages to get in touch with recruitment and HR teams (unless you are set up to be like the Career Fair people that I spoke of at the beginning of this session). If your process doesn’t focus on the candidate experience and providing feedback and information to candidates, either change your process where you do offer it – OR –  then don’t offer it up on your site and disregard this bullet point.
  • Pay attention to cross-platform development. Recruiters should be able to reach candidates no matter what mobile device they may be using. This means it is necessary to do code apps and mobile sites in a cross-platform markup language (like HTML5).
  • Allow job seekers to easily share the pages of your Careers section with friends via social networks/email.
  • Maintain a strong presence on key social media sites that mobile users typically use…Linked In, Twitter, Facebook. Google+, and blogging sites like Tumblr or WordPress.
  • Offer capabilities for job seekers to register with one click to indicate their interest in a position, or text message job alerts.
  • Allow candidates to upload and edit resumes and cover letters via mobile device or tablets, or to register using their Linked In or Facebook profile.
  • Provide job seekers with the capability of tracking their application status over their smartphone.

Link to Simply Hired full report

Rehiring Programs

Some companies have decided to emphasize rehiring previous employees as a way to address their recruitment needs. This would focus on employees who left on their own, not those who were released from the company. Yes, I know all of the arguments on why this might be a bad idea…

  • The impact it might have on current employees when a previous employee is brought back at potentially a higher salary or job position.
  • There were reasons the employee left in the first place, and those may return.
  • Pride. It might look as though they can’t find any other options than to bring people back.
  • The returning employee may have been gone for a while and the climate and culture of the company may have changed, and that might not work for them now.

But, there are some advantages to rehiring as well…

  • They could already know the company, the culture, procedures, and day-to-day operations. This makes it an easier transition than someone who is brand new to the organization. Even if you have new software or processes, these can typically be learned easily.
  • People who have left, stayed within your same industry, and now return to you might bring with them additional knowledge, processes, and strategies to improve your organization.
  • Someone who left and returns could provide the added benefit of telling other current employees that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
  • When you gain the reputation of being willing to bring back previous employees, it can actually encourage other top performers who may have left to check into the possibility as well.

Shifting the Strategy of the Future

Well, we have covered the current state of recruiting, and we have looked at some of the current trends in recruiting, but what will recruiting look like 3-4-5 years from now? In my opinion, it is going to look dramatically different than what it does today for a couple of reasons:

1)      Technology will continue advancing and offer new strategic opportunities to reach more people (in previously untapped ways), faster, and move them through the pipeline for immediate hiring needs.

2)      The ongoing generational changes in the workforce will demand it.

To the first reason, there is no doubt that new recruitment technologies will come along that will make things easier for us to do our jobs, reach more people, will have some cool interfaces to it, and we will all jump on board. But people will also just create other technologies – not necessarily for recruiting – but we recruiters will somehow find a way to make it a recruiting tool. These technologies will have to focus on 3 things for the recruiting world to successfully use them:

1)      It must incorporate human elements and engagement in them.

2)      It must be efficient and focused on speed.

3)      It has to be easily accessible and convenient for people to use. Something that people are using anyway and don’t have to go out of their way to specifically be recruited.

The second of my reasons is, by far, the driver behind this shift in recruitment practices and strategies. We are in the middle of a massive generational shift in our workforce. The Baby Boomers are exiting (10,000 per day) and Generation Y (Millennials) are replacing them. You may be saying, “So what?” Well, the “what” is that Gen Y is wired (literally) differently than every generation before it. They are the first generation to have the internet accessible to them every day of their lives. Additionally, society has raised this generation of kids far differently than generations before it. One example would be that when they were kids, everyone got a trophy or a ribbon – there was no winner or loser, everyone must be treated equally, so we didn’t even keep score.


  • This generation approaches problem solving in a very different way.
  • They have a deeper social consciousness.
  • Their priorities are different.
  • They are more relational and have a need for feedback and encouragement and it better be often.
  • They are geographically mobile and will move for a great opportunity.
  • On average, they will only stay at a job for 2 years and then do something else.

When we look at the way that we are recruiting today, they simply will not accept it. Asking them to read a vague job description that may not even accurately portray what the job is, then apply through a career portal that takes 45 minutes to an hour to complete, asking them a bunch of pre-screening questions where each one is loaded with knock out capabilities, and then fall into the black hole of Talent Acquisition where they never speak with a human or have any interaction whatsoever….no, that’s just not appealing to them.

The companies who have moved beyond this old school way of doing things are having the best success in capturing the best and brightest of this new generation. Only 10% of the population would be classified as actively seeking a new job opportunity. The best talent, likely, isn’t even looking. Posting jobs on Monster or CareerBuilder, or throwing an ad on Craigslist and then sorting through the ones who apply – that’s no way to get the best talent. Then when you do get someone interested and have them apply through your career page, and then never respond to them – that’s no way to get the best talent. Waiting for them to come to you, that’s not a strategy, it’s a death sentence for your company.

Some of the people who are seen as long time recruiting experts, and the best recruiters on the planet – in this new paradigm, they will disappear because they either refuse to acknowledge the changing time and cultures, or they won’t be able to adapt to them. Google your recruitment leader’s name today, alongside your company name. What do you see? The vast majority of Fortune 500 recruitment leaders have no identity on search engines. They don’t promote their company brand.  They don’t speak at events. They/you will be fired for not being a proactive champion of their company as a great place to work.

People are naturally social. They love to talk. Engage. Gossip. They are hungry for information. When forming a relationship, they want honesty, authenticity, integrity, transparency and communication. Two-way communication. When looking at employment branding, people want relationships with people, not faceless, bureaucratic companies.

The emphasis will be placed on relational recruiting. Targeting people early – before they even start their careers – and getting to know them through internships and casual networking or friendships. They also get to know about your company and envision what it would be like to work there full time after school.

It will be having brand ambassadors from your organization in the public arena speaking and being a thought leader so job seekers and potential job seekers can have a name, and a face, and a feel for their organization. It will be following up with those who show interest in you and your company – maybe for extended periods of time , through emails and text messages and even a phone call from time to time. It will be the use of social media and engaging others for a journey with you. It will be about relationships.

The following was taken from an article in ERE written by Matthew Jeffrey and Amy McKee. They hit on the importance of relationships through the recruitment process…

Social media and networks are on fire. Whatever you look at — Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter — the growth stats and usage is phenomenal. People talking, 24/7.

Why have so many recruiting leaders and Fortune 500 companies failed to grasp the importance of social media and engaging and building talent communities?

Yes, many companies can beat their chest and proclaim they have a presence on Facebook or Twitter but they are using them in a style reminiscent of Recruitment 1.0 “post, pray, and spray.”

Leap onto some corporate Twitter feeds today. You will see that many are de-facto job boards. A long list of jobs with a hyperlink back to their jobs site. Try replying and communicating with that company and you will more often than not never receive a reply. Indeed some corporate Twitter feeds post more jobs in the course of a week than they have followers.

Let’s cut to the key point. Social media is not about immediate bums on seats. It will not lead to immediate mass new hires or pipeline. It is a vehicle to take people on a journey. A journey that people will board at different junctures. But when reaching the destination, the goal is that they are either someone who wants to work for your company or that they are a Brand Ambassador. Brand Ambassadors are people who may not want to work for you, but they engage in your community, participate in discussions, sing your praises to friends and act as a champion of your brand.

Why do people join at different points on the destination? Some people know your brand and have a feel for your company and hence can reach the end of the journey quickly. Others may not have even heard of your company and hence a long journey of discovery and education awaits. The key is how you attract their attention and how you engage with them.

Recruitment 3.0 is about building engaged communities, telling a story, listening, discussing and fostering an emotional attachment with new talent.

Recruiter 1.0 and 2.0 will be a dying breed in the coming months and years, replaced and thrown on the scrap heap by Recruiter 3.0 who can combine a range of skills including:

PR & messaging


Direct Marketing

Market segmentation

Candidate Relationship Management


Presentation and Communication Skills


Are your recruiters ready? Is your recruitment leadership ready?

All will unravel over the coming months and years and we will see which companies can be transparent and build engaged communities. Will yours?


I have been saying these things for a couple of years now and it’s good to see others starting to beat the drum as well.

I feel like I need to say this….every year or so, someone comes along and they say that something big is going to happen and something is no longer going to work and blah, blah, blah. I ignore them almost 100% of the time. Yet, I find myself in the position now of being the person who says that the current recruitment strategies and processes are about to die and all those who cling to them will suffer career deaths as well. So, I get it if you roll your eyes or let out a sigh or at least are a bit skeptical. But what makes this real for me is that I was a youth minister for almost 20 years before I entered recruiting. And guess who the kids were that I ministered to? Gen Y. I know them. I understand how they think and operate and process. I can relate to their emotions. I get them at a very deep level. I’ve had conversations with them regarding these things that we have discussed today. I tell you…with 100% sincerity…I believe in this new paradigm shift. It will not be minor. It will be a major transformation.

The new recruiting paradigm will be a balance of high tech with high touch. It will be relational. It will be about pipeline building and less about just in time searching. The people who will succeed as recruiters will have a different make-up than the ones you may have working for you now. Compensation packages will have to be adjusted to reward those recruiters who successfully make this change as it won’t be so transactional.

I have other presentations where I dive deep into Gen Y, new recruiting models, etc. I’m happy to share those with you. If you’ll connect with me after this session, I can direct you to those resources. I am also available to speak with you and your leadership about the future of recruiting and help design a model that fits your organization.