A couple of facts to start with. The Boomers wanted jobs for life. They wanted security. Remember when working at the post office was a great career choice because you would have a job for life? Comedian and Seinfeld co- creator Larry David likes to tell the story about how disappointed his mother was that he did not take the civil service exam to get a job as a postman. Even after he was working on Seinfeld!
Remember when once people got a job, they held onto it for dear life? I knew many people in large corporations who were miserable the last twenty years of their work life but hung on for the sake of that pension. Wow! That one really scared me.
And there was very little thought to doing what you loved back then. No, it was simply, get a job that pays well enough to put food on the table and a roof over your head…and learn to like it at least.
Boomers were raised by the greatest generation, the one that not only lived through World War two but also lived through the Great Depression and knew what it was like when there really were no jobs. These parents were petrified of that ever happening again.
Then their kids, the Boomers, grew up fighting for everything. There were so many of them that they had to fight to get into the right schools, they had to fight for summer jobs. They had to fight for their first jobs. Go back to their beginnings and MacDonald’s only hired honor students, and worse than that, you might not remember this, but they only hired boy honor students! It was a big deal when they started hiring girl honor students. Working at Mickey D’s was a big deal for Boomers when they were in high school. Everybody wanted to work there.
Now let’s fast forward to today when it is so much harder to hire good young people. They seem much more independent, they seem to always be looking for that perfect job that they will love, that will interest them. They will only even consider a job that suits them perfectly. They are in fact only interested in doing what they love…and who can blame them? When I hear my fellow Boomers denigrate them, it is pretty obvious to me that they’re just plain jealous.
There are a few good reasons for this. The most obvious is that when the Millennials (ugh I hate that term but for the sake of easily understandable communications I am forced to use it) came of age there were ten million fewer of them than the Boomers when they came of age. The second reason is that there are many more jobs than are young people to fill them, and the third reason is that they grew up in a much more secure environment. Fewer of them grew up worried about having a place to live and enough food to eat. They also grew up connected to a little device they held in their hand that allowed them to access all the information in the world, past and present and even some insight into the future.
What does this mean to those companies who are frantically looking for the next generation to join their company? Simple. It means that they have to get into a “sales mode”. Just like their sales and marketing departments are sales focused, a company’s HR group has to become sales focused as well.
Our need for good smart young people is growing especially right now as we are going through what some are calling the “Silver Tsunami” of our top workers aging out.
The fact is there are not enough young people to fill the job openings we currently have in not only this country but around the world as well.
Companies have to realize that they are in a serious competition for these young people, and they have to strategize accordingly. Here are a few simple steps that you have to take to successfully recruit young people today.
- Create a profile of the candidates you are looking for. What are the characteristics of your target candidates? List everything from education to life situation, to off hours activities.
- Create a model for each job you are hiring for. Create a good solid and informative position description for that job.
- Create a vision for the future. Not only for your company but also for the exact job you are hiring for. Show this vision to your candidates. Let them know the places they can go in your company. Not only your company but in your industry as well.
- Provide opportunities for what is important to them. The companies that are most successful at hiring these days are companies with a social consciousness. Whether you like it or not, social issues are very important to this new generation of the work force and if you want to compete with other twenty first century companies you are going to have to provide this to your new employees. They want to work for companies that are supporting programs to make the world a better place and they want the opportunity to participate in those programs. Remember this is a new world order and you can either get with it or else.
- Be Flexible and have an open mind when meeting and interviewing these young people. Remember that this is now an employees’ market. They have choices, many choices and you are going to have to learn more about their needs. You will have to learn what they are looking for in an employer and you are going to have to find a way to accommodate those needs.
One final bit of advice would be for all HR departments to start developing a strong sales-focused method of finding, hiring and keeping the right people. It’s only common sense.