Fifty years ago career building was a very different journey than the one the majority of our workforce experiences today. Presently, Generation Y, also referred to as “millennials”, makes up roughly 45% of the workforce according to a study by PayScale. Though millennials constitute a larger percentage of business overall, they aren’t staying with companies for as long their parents and grandparents or for the same reasons.
In national surveys by the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average American’s job tenure was 10 years in 2008 and by 2012 had dropped to 4.4 years. The “Baby Boomers”, those born after WWII until 1964, sought careers that offered prestige, fiscal support, and security in longevity. Their children, Generation X, pursued careers with a similar drive but with a greater desire for autonomy and an improved work-life balance to invest in their family. Millennials have absorbed these ideals too but introduced their own complexities of career motivators, expectations, and needs.
Compared to their predecessors’ career trajectories, Millennials have job tenures of about 2 years according to the Future Workplace’s Multiple Generations @ Work. Since the reasons why employees commit to their work have changed the methods of how to encourage employee retention in companies also needs to be reevaluated. Purpose-driven work, consistent communication, continued education, and corporate culture weigh heavily on the scales for millennial’s assessment of a position.
1. Opportunities and Growth
When an employee first comes onboard with a new company they will feel the challenges and learning curve of the position. An employee who is excited to meet these obstacles will always be an asset to a business, and with repetition they will master the process. The problem is that mastery of a skill or action will eventually lead to stagnation. Without added stimulation or new complexities to a position an employee’s work can suffer from monotony. That’s not the mark of purely a millennial problem either, that’s a mark of humanity. According to a study on career satisfaction by the University of Kent, we enjoy learning new skills and performing where we feel we are stretching our capabilities. Diversifying employees’ responsibilities can boost the morale of an entire organization with greater interdepartmental communication and introduce fresh perspectives on projects.
2. Feedback and Recognition
Everyone appreciates hearing that their labors and initiatives are noticed and valued. According toBruce Mayhew Consulting, Millennials may appreciate this communication more so than any past generation because of how they were uniquely raised. Their two-income parents were often away at work but with the capability to provide rich experiences to their children that would match their own busy schedules. In these learning opportunities millennials received consistent feedback and positive reinforcement for their efforts, and were regularly asked their own opinions on what they enjoyed. Millennials don’t need to receive a trophy for completing every work assignment but they highly value communication, coaching, and praise when praise is due. It’s interesting to note that Bruce Mayhew Consulting even notes that, “They are driven less by money and more by accomplishment.” Provide millennial employees with a mentor and an open door policy on questions and they will feel tied into the company with an understanding of how to grow their skills within the organization.
3. Flexibility and Unique Benefits
Much in the same way that millennials value purpose and achievement above financial gain, they also value experiences like flexible schedules and time off. In the same study from Multiple Generations @ Work, it found that 44% of employees aren’t aware of their company’s telecommuting policy. Paired with the study from Global Workplace Analytics that shows that telecommuting grew nearly 80% from 2005 to 2012 alone, not offering this modern workforce some flexibility is likely to result in lost employees. This ties into improved communication once again. When clear goals and missions are spelled out millennials will work towards them, whether it’s from home, a coffee shop, or in the office. Flex time, summer vacation days, or even shorter working weeks are all benefits to consider as the pace of the working world changes. An added bonus, indicated in research by Talent Management, is that flexible schedules and shorter working hours actually increase productivity when on the clock and prevent employee burnout.
Time and money is spent in the search for great employees but it loses its value without a supportive and informed employee retention plan. Instead of solely critiquing the employee, it’s time to hone in on how to create better positions and corporate cultures that ignite passion and dedication in an individual.
What motivates your work and dedication to a position?
Moore’s Law states that computer processing speed doubles every 18 months, a good indication of how fast technology jobs change too. For a job seeker who has employment gaps of more than two years then the odds increase that their skill set may be outdated. However, the way people work is also changing. More people freelance, volunteer, and pursue online education in lieu of traditional 9-5 jobs that can be harder to represent on a resume. When encountering a potential great employee with resume gaps the first important step is to assess what caused them and what they did in between work.
1) Was It Elective?
Highly qualified candidates often take time off to raise families or care for older relatives. Traditional gender-role thinking sees this applying predominately to mothers but a survey done by the Pew Research Group in 2014 showed that around 2 million fathers stay home to care for their children, with a noted increase in the number of fathers with college degrees doing so. Prompt an applicant to discuss how they spent their time away from work and you’ll learn more about their personal character. Attributes like loyalty, dedication, and modern thinking are just a few of the qualities that can be read through an employment gap of this type.
2) Was It Forced?
An alternate reason for an employment gap is the result of firings, downsizing, or quitting. Being laid off from a position or choosing to leave after a year or two is a lot more common in today’s economy. Having an applicant explain to you their work history is important for a different reason though. It’s an awkward situation for an applicant to answer why they left a job or to acknowledge why they were dismissed. This is the chance to analyze a potential employee’s soft skills in communication, problem management, and leadership. Do they have the maturity not to trash their former employer, or the tact to represent their experience as an opportunistic move? Hire someone who knows how to find golden prospects amidst a problem.
3) Was It A “Sabbatical”?
Sabbatical sounds prestigious but if it’s on an applicant’s resume be cautious. Ask the applicant to see the project or independent research they were working on during this period. They should respond with how they learned something of unique value to enhance this position. With seven days a week to have at your disposal you could easily learn new languages, computer programs, or travel the world and gain international insight. This would be an appropriate opening to ask about any contract work they may have done as well. If an individual performed freelance work while on sabbatical it means they know how to budget their time, and manage an agenda, even when on “vacation.”
No matter for which reason an applicant has gaps in their resume it’s best to assess what they have to show for their time outside the office. Volunteering their skills to a local organization demonstrates their active interest in working and contributing to a larger community’s success. Additionally free, online courses like Coursera or the Khan Academy allow candidates to pursue continued education to bring new tools to a position.
The holidays are a fantastic time to revitalize your business. As the year comes to a close companies are evaluating their needs and areas for growth, and skilled professionals are considering their future goals for the year ahead. With a surplus of charitable events and parties being hosted during the holiday season, prospective applicants and recruiters have new opportunities to network in relaxed atmospheres. When attending these festive functions and getting to meet new professionals in your field be careful not to be the fruitcake of this informal interview.
The definition of a Fruitcake is a cake made with chopped candied fruit and/or dried fruit, nuts, and spices; sometimes soaked in spirits. The cultural understanding of a fruitcake, though, is a very different dessert. Johnny Carson, one time popular host of The Tonight Show, originated the joke that “there really is only one fruitcake in the world, passed from family to family,” due to its unsavoriness.
Don’t fall into the trap of being unceremoniously passed along by great candidates by attending to these simple lessons learned from America’s most disdained dessert.
1) Change the Reputation
The number one problem with being given a fruitcake as a gift is the communicated lack of emotion behind the action. It’s been a holiday tradition for over a century and now it is a cliché as dry as the cake itself. Interviews are like fruitcakes in that they have a bad reputation for being redundant and cold because candidates know it’s going to be the same set of questions, and the same information being asked of them they’ve already regurgitated before. In an informal interview, don’t waste the opportunity to make an impression on the other party by being that generic. How many times have you heard a recruiter asking such questions as “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” or “Where do you see yourself in five years?” These questions are stale and you can be sure the candidate has heard them before and has rehearsed responses. Success is taking a traditional idea or common practice and improving upon it, showing it in a new light. How about fruitcake mini-muffins? How about asking a candidate about what they would choose to pursue if they won the lottery at $20 million? That’s an interview topic a candidate won’t be expecting and it reveals more about their character, drive, interests, and creativity than just highlighting their skills.
2) Know The Distance
Fruitcakes are infamous as being the mailed gift of the holiday season. If dried fruit stuffed into a cake isn’t appealing enough, you will now be receiving it after it’s been banged about through standard shipping. Did you know distance is one of the key reasons candidates turn down jobs? Fifteen minutes is usually the metric that just puts people outside of their commute comfort zone, such as from 30 to 45 minutes. A good interviewer isn’t going to just send their position inquiry out and hope for the best when the talk of physically getting to the position turns up. Be proactive to understand at what distance a candidate loses interest in a prospect and why. Maybe, like changing a reputation, it takes repackaging the idea? If someone is moving from a 30 minute commute up to 45 minutes they are seeing it as ‘Wow, I’ll be spending close to 2 hours in my car every day for work!’ As the recruiter you can remind them that in reality it’s only an extra 30 minutes than what they’re already doing on their commute everyday.
3) Set Expectations
Good candidates may suffer through poor interview questions and long commutes, but you’ll lose them if the expectations for the position don’t live up to the reality. How cruel is it to give someone a fruitcake wrapped inside of an Apple desktop box? How does a candidate handle hearing that the executive position they thought they were discussing with you is actually a temporary administrative assistant opening? Don’t overglorify the position if it can’t live up to the hype. Instead of misleading a potential employee, be honest with them about the position and how it can help their career path whether through name recognition or future promotions.
Happy holiday hunting to all; may your efforts be fruitful (just not fruitcake)!
Since the economic downturn, most of us know at least one person who lost their job and is hunting for their next position. One of the hardest transitions is for our aged 50+ workforces who are thrown back into interview sweats after being an extended spectator to the game. Newcomers take the field, equipped with advanced technology skills and a willingness to take any position, and career veterans are suddenly sidelined.
If your business has ever hesitated when mulling over the resume of an older applicant, here’s five reasons why you should jump at the chance to build a multi-generational team:
1) Retention Rate
They are dedicated to the idea of growing with a business, not merely through it. New graduates are ready to fill open positions but you will also see them ready to vacate just as often. Penelope Trunk, co-founder of Quistic, an educational career-management business, stated that workers in their 20’s to 30’s today spend on average one to three years at a job to build their resume before moving on. Older employees tend to carry a different mindset and will offer a greater return on a hiring investment.
2) Accumulated Wisdom
It seems like a simple concept but with a 25+ year work history, these veterans are bringing with them a great resource of their successes AND their failures. The latter is particularly important as it will show your business what pitfalls to avoid and how to bounce back from challenges.
3) Greater Flexibility
They’ve matured through their career and felt the growing pains that younger employees may not yet understand as being crucial to improved business. Stephen Bastian, business consultant and expert on leadership and managing employees, explained that besides acquiring technical abilities, your veterans have perfected the soft skills like communication, abilities to handle stress, and confidence to collaborate with management, that support the fundamentals of any project They will also be more likely to be flexible in their compensation with former insurance and savings plans put in place.
4) An Extended Network
Their list of contacts, business relationships, and friends in the field will be well developed with their career record. In a study conducted during the recession by The Center on Aging and Work at Boston College, 46.3% of employer s interviewed said that their older employees have stronger professional and client networks compared to their younger workers. Therefore, a potential client that your business has been looking to connect with might be a former business partner of theirs.
5) A Fresh Perspective
When trying to cut new ground and stay modern, an older employee can actually revitalize your business by providing a different perspective. Vintage fashions and trends always make a comeback and you will definitely profit from an employee who is familiar with traditional business models and how to apply them anew.
Thriving businesses today with multi-generational teams see the potential for more creative and innovative ideas being produced and a greater diversity of strengths available at the table. Skills can be learned but experience can’t be bought.
How many times have you heard how the corporate employees at Apple are secretive? Or the Google personnel can bring their dogs to work and Microsoft employees are laid back? These well-known companies have labored to create corporate cultures in their organization and management.
Often the words “corporate culture” are used so frequently that we’ve become immune to the real meaning. It is often described as how work flows within an organization to achieve its mission. While there’s no clear-cut definition, it can include a business style, value proposition or something that is merely implied and not expressed. Using a recruiter who takes the time to know your corporate culture will not only have a lasting impact, it will ensure consistency in the process.
Being in tune with an organization is akin to pollen that attracts the bees to make honey. By engaging effective recruitment strategy, you will acquire qualified, reliable candidates that will yield long-term, value-added results. As a staffing company, we hone our matchmaking skills by engaging the best possible talent to align corporate values, work environment along with brand.
As recruiters, we encourage companies to continue branding their culture in their onboarding and performance review processes. Change is inevitable. Ongoing leadership development, organizational structure and routines need to be updated through ongoing training and workshops. Response to change is vital for talent to remain nimble and communicate the corporate image that companies’ work so hard to build.
Corporate culture is very important and not to be taken lightly. Take a step back. As a staffing company, examine the company you want to merge with talent, technology and clients. This will ensure that you create a plan to build the best corporate culture-with-talent bond for ongoing success.
Contrary to popular belief, the holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year to find talent. Likewise, it is also a great time to be job hunting. November and December are the best months for networking. With all the holiday parties and charitable events going on, the opportunity to meet people is endless. The best part of seizing the networking opportunity at holiday soirees is that you typically see people as they truly are because their professional guard is down as they are enjoying the spirit of the season.
Businesses and organizations also like to ring in the New Year with new budgets and a year-end assessment of hiring needs, opening opportunities for qualified candidates. The competition to find top quality talent is low during the holidays as recruiting professionals and hiring managers take time off for travel and family. This is a great time to attract and engage the best talent available.
For the job seeker, your likelihood of reaching a decision maker within an organization also increases the two weeks around Christmas. Although it is true this is a popular time of year for people to take time off, there are still a number of leaders holding down the fort. Things also tend to quiet down in the office during this time of year, allowing the opportunity for longer conversations and the likelihood of someone having the time to respond to your call or email with fewer distractions.
One way to take advantage of the annual holiday charitable event is to invite qualified job candidates to participate. Whether your office has volunteered to stuff food pantry boxes or collect Toys for Tots, charitable events require leaders, team players and positive attitudes. What better way to test your candidates’ abilities? It’s also a great opportunity for job seekers to volunteer their skills and enthusiasm.
The holidays offer a wonderful time for self-reflection. Take this time to reevaluate your brand image to attract the right candidate or employer. Review your social media strategy, marketing strategy, personal resume or resumes on file. Update any new skills, experiences or accomplishments. Hiring managers must remember that they are being interviewed and evaluated just as much by the potential candidates.
With all this in mind, make that list, check it twice and find out who’s been naughty or nice, so that you can enjoy the most prosperous New Year!
From all of us at Software Resources, we wish you a very Happy Holiday and Joyful New Year!