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Attracting the Next Generation of Talent

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When you go to a party, be it a birthday party for one of your kid’s friends or a crazy one in a warehouse with people on stilts and crazy lights, you’ll probably end up talking about work at some point. You meet someone or are introduced and then you stand there for a few minutes, futzing through the “who the heck are you” questions with all of the grace of a zebra on roller skates. If you’re lucky, you’ve got a cool job for a cool company, which allows you to say something like, “I’m just in town to repair the space shuttle,” or “I’m a flavor designer for Crest Toothpaste” or  “I’m the guy who tells Kanye West when he’s gone too far. You know, his official apology coordinator.” However, if you’re like the rest of us, you’ll probably say something like, “I’m a Product Operations Facilitator for a company specializing in drainage…nozzles…um…so…what was it that you said about Kanye again?”

Let’s face it, in order for you company to attract talent at a competitive level, your company has to be attractive to job seekers, plain and simple. The not so simple part is figuring out exactly what is attracting professionals to companies in today’s fraught job market. Now, for those companies out there who don’t happen to manufacture shark tanks or race cars, there’s some good news. According to a survey featured on the Harvard Business Review the next generation of job seekers, the Millenials, care more about a company’s reputation for employee friendliness and a company’s culture than they do about what the company itself actually produces. Instead of Millennials flocking to companies with strong brands or products that have been in existence for much longer than they or even their parents have been alive, these young professionals are seeking companies with strong employer brands, companies with a reputation for putting their employees first. Here are the top 10 companies that Millennials would like to work for:

  1. Google
  2. Apple
  3. Facebook
  4. Microsoft
  5. Amazon
  6. eBay
  7. LinkedIn
  8. Yahoo
  9. Goldman Sachs
  10. IBM

While you probably notice that most of these are tech companies, what you might not be able to see at a glance is that several of these companies were included in Glassdoor’s list of best places to work for 2014. While it’s possible that some of the respondents to the HBR survey read this list from Glassdoor, perhaps while reading up on companies with happy employees, this would only further prove my point. GenerationY talent cares quite a lot about working for a company that both shares their personal/professional values and values them as an asset. Though the older, more established brands like Coca Cola or GE may hold more respect within the business world, the magic that these brands cast on consumers is somewhat lost on this newest generation of professionals.

No matter how you might feel about the Millennials, there’s no denying that, as the largest growing demographic of workers in the United States, they’re going to have an impact on the way that we do business and attract talent. By 2020, 46% of the workers in the United States will be Millennials, which means that, sooner or later, you’re going to have to hire a few of them. To get a head start on attracting Generation Y talent, your company should try to emulate the qualities that appeal to these young professionals, namely, a reputation for being an employee-friendly company.

Now, if your company culture isn’t particularly employee friendly, you may want to consider changing that up. This is the age of the Internet and your employees are talking about your company whether you like it or not. Just consider the fact that 70% of the respondents to the HBR sited “friends” as one of the sources of their desire to work for these employee-friendly companies. Though you’re welcome to try and project an employer brand that’s focused on the well being of your employees without actually trying to invest in the well being of your employees, this will probably end up blowing up in your face. With the connectivity that the internet provides, word of mouth has re-emerged as a strong mechanism for getting the word out about your company. The only catch is, you need people willing to get the word out.

That’s why, as part of your talent initiative into the closing of this decade, I’d advise on making your workplace more of a delight for your workers. By simply taking your staff out to lunch every once in a while or organizing an outing or a picnic, you’re helping to create a work environment that your employees will love to talk about. These employee events will also be great photo ops, so make sure that you snap some pictures to put on your company’s careers page. Going back to those awkward conversations from earlier, wouldn’t you want one of your employees to say something more like “I love my job! We have a really tight knit staff and our boss is always thinking of ways to help us blow off steam.”  Yes, in the information age, the first step to attracting talent is making sure that they’ve got a great place to land in your company.

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