Managing Millennials & Moving On

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We’re inundated on a daily basis with content on millennials – a pervasive, complex, and reviled group of workers. So, I’ve been brainstorming about a key takeaway and what I could possibly say at this point that’s novel. I landed on a simple call to action: move on.

Here’s the deal: with the oldest millennials being about 36 years old, we finally have some definitive research on their workplace behaviors and can compare them to previous generations. Here’s the summary: there is little to no difference in levels of narcissism, job tenure, or work ethic amongst millennials and previous generations in their twenties. It turns out, all youth is narcissistic, indecisive, and distracted.

Okay, okay. You need evidence. After all, I’m a millennial – why trust me?

Most of the studies you see compare millennials to the current feelings and behaviors of Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers. A study cited in Business Insider just this week provides a perfect example. “Daymon Worldwide notes that millennials are more obsessed with being unique and standing out than their parents and grandparents are.” (http://www.businessinsider.com/differences-between-boomers-gen-x-and-millennials-2016-6) I hope they didn’t spend a lot of money on that research because if I compare any 25 year old and their 75 year old Nana, I would certainly hope their level of maturity and narcissism differed.

In regards to the job-hopping, Baby Boomer’s actually changed jobs in their twenties at the same rate that millennials do now (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/nlsoy.pdf)! Let me demystify this: young people usually take whatever job they can get starting off. They don’t know what they want to do long-term and millennials came of age during a recession where if you didn’t take whatever job you could get, you were perpetually unemployed. (Unemployed = no brunch. Millennials love brunch).

Lastly, millennials work differently but they are not aggregately lazy. Lazy is a really loaded word and I don’t have the space to enumerate the dangers of characterizing an entire group as something derogatory, so use your own intuition here. Every time you’re tempted to say “lazy”, replace it with “different.” Because the truth is millennials are very different from previous generations in their beliefs about work. We don’t always subscribe to traditional hours. We value work-life balance and sometimes prioritize it over a demanding career. We want to understand the why’s behind what we’re doing because we need purpose. Are these good qualities? Bad? Admirable? I don’t know exactly, but aren’t all those statements what people tell us to prioritize after it’s too late for them to change? Spend more time with your family. Do something you love. Work hard, but set boundaries.

On the upside, you’ll also find that we answer late-night emails. Because we grew up with technology, we constantly look for ways to be more efficient. When we find our passion, we’ll work however many hours it takes. The key for employers is to harness that passion and not let vintage expectations drive away a talented workforce.

So, that’s it. There’s your answer. Young people are needy and kind of difficult to work with and they always will be. Maybe in a few years I’ll be blogging on the pains of Gen Zer’s. Que sera, tale as old as time. Let’s stop dwelling it on it now.

Written by: Hannah Barfield Spellmeyer

Reference Checks: One of the Most Important Pieces to the Pre-hire Puzzle

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We have all heard the phrase, “past performance predicts future performance” and I feel the easiest way to gauge future performance is from relying heavily on reference feedback. Whether you are a recruiter, HR professional, hiring manager or simply conducting interviews for your organization, checking references on potential employees is a must. Below are some tips, pulled greatly from past experience, on how to get the most out of checking references:

 

  • If a candidate cannot provide a readily available list of references, this may be a red flag. Most understandably, candidates that are currently working are not going to list their current employer and shouldn’t be expected to. However, if someone is actively job seeking and interviewing, they should have a prepared list of contacts to provide you to ensure someone can vouch for their work ethic throughout the pre-hire process.
  • A thorough reference list will include a great amount of diversity in the contacts listed. For example, being able to provide more than one contact from past jobs, contacts from all past jobs, and different levels of employees they worked with in those jobs, including both former co-workers and supervisors, is hugely helpful. It is also important that the candidate has made these contacts aware they are listed as a reference on their behalf. Nothing is worse than catching someone completely unaware of the reason for your call!
  • Keep it professional–nothing personal and stick with facts.
  • Remember to start by verifying the information provided by the candidate and then move into questions related to their specific performance in the role and with the company (some examples below). Additionally, when interviewing a candidate for a specific role, be sure to dig a little deeper into how their past performance will relate to what they may eventually do within your organization.

o   Are the company names, dates of employment, and titles correct?

o   How was their overall performance in the specific role? (Does title listed and job duties provided mirror feedback coming from the reference?)

o   How did they treat both fellow employees and external customers?

o   Were they prompt and reliable with work product and in regards to meeting deadlines?

o   Did they adhere to office culture and standards: attendance, dress code, etc.?

o   Are there any concerns? (Concerns are not always negative and may be helpful in determining how to train and ensure immediate success in the new role.)

o   Are they eligible for rehire? (Or sometimes can be phrased as, “would you hire or work with them again?” depending on the relationship of the candidate to the contact).

  • If you do uncover negative feedback in a reference, it may not be a “deal breaker,” but not worth ignoring. In this case, ask the candidate for more reference contacts as it is worth researching further to see if the feedback has validity and is consistently received.

 

Candidates that have done the necessary due diligence in providing prompt, thorough, and detailed reference information will undoubtedly be heavily considered for any job!

Written by: Rebecca Faulk

You’ve Graduated from College: Now What?

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If you are reading this before you have already graduated, we need to back up a little bit and look at what you should be doing to better your chances while going to college.  One of the best ways to help you determine what you want to do post-graduation and help you land a job is to get an internship or co-op with a company or organization in your field of study during your college years.  This will help confirm or deter you from what you want to do, while giving you valuable work experience to start building your resume.

Next, you want to utilize your school’s career center.  Not only can they help you network with companies, they can get you in touch with alumni and even get you involved with mock interviews for practice. They can also help you build your resume and format it (keep it to one page).   Almost all colleges and universities today have career fairs (fall semester and spring semester).  GO TO ALL OF THEM!  You will network with HR and hiring managers of companies, learn about companies, and sharpen your skills when speaking with decision makers.  You may get opportunities to move onto an interview with one or more companies and potentially have an offer in hand prior to graduation.  A lot of the companies also look for candidates for their internship programs so just another way to get your foot in the door.

If you don’t have a job offer after graduation and don’t want to live in your parent’s basement, you have to go get a job!  Create your resume and build your LinkedIn profile.  Make sure your resume and LinkedIn profile are very professional and mirror each other without discrepancies (we have tips on this blog on how to create both).  Another very important rule is to make sure you “Google” your name and see what comes up on the internet.  Trust me that this is the first thing most hiring managers do now.  Also, clean up and delete any pictures or posts on your Facebook / social media accounts that are inappropriate.  As a recruiter, I have seen numerous times where candidates who were more than qualified for an opportunity were turned down because of what showed up their social media pages. It’s time to grow up and get ready for the professional world.

While you apply to jobs on job boards or directly on company websites, do not forget that your network of professionals is just as good, if not a better way to land your new job.  Building your network and meeting decision makers in your field is still one of the best ways to land your next opportunity.  I have seen where candidates have found an opportunity with a company due to their network who had never “officially” posted a role, but rather “created” a position for someone they just could not pass up.

Now a company gets in touch with you to move you on to the interview stage: what’s next?  Make sure you invest in professional interviewing attire to dress the part.  Also, I cannot stress enough: GO TO ALL INTERVIEWS!  Even if you don’t think it may be the best opportunity or your dream job, there are a few reasons you want to take the interview.  Interviewing is a skill all on its own and the more you do it, the better and more confident you will get at it.  You may have thought you would not be interested in the role and then after learning more about the opportunity, it may actually be a great one.  Also, you have just met some new decision makers to add to your network.  Don’t forget to get contact information from them so you can send them a thank you note.

To sum it all up for getting that first job out of college:

  • Get an internship or co-op during college relative to your field of study
  • Go to all job fairs and utilize career services at your university or college
  • Update your LinkedIn profile and resume
  • Review, update, and edit all social media sites to make them professional
  • Utilize and build your network
  • Go to all interviews with companies and dress the part for the opportunity

Written by: Zandr Tesolowski

 

Degree or No Degree? That is the Question!

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When you graduate from high school, you encounter the proverbial fork in the road.  Go to college and pursue an advanced degree or move straight into the work force?  For those who choose to go to college, your chosen field of study can say a tremendous amount about who you are and your outlook on life.  For myself personally, I am a firm believer that any degree field should have an ROI (that’s return on investment for those of you not in business!).  Let’s face it, college is extremely expensive these days. It places a large financial burden on both you and your parents.  I highly doubt any parents want to spend $70-$80K for a college education and have their child study Western Civilization only to move back home and work in a coffee shop (although I hear Starbucks has great benefits!).  I’m not saying everyone has to be a doctor or lawyer, I’m merely saying that your field of study should at least mirror your life’s aspirations.  Because of my business background (thank you USC-Upstate), I have a hard time investing money into something that doesn’t pay a dividend, much less pay for itself at least.

There are non-traditional degrees as well.  These typically include associate’s degrees along with specialized certifications.  As a Technical and Engineering Recruiter, I routinely encounter candidates from both the traditional bachelor’s degree path as well as the more non-traditional associate’s degree path.  Obviously the traditional degree holders are your engineering and management candidates.  Those with associate degrees are typically CNC/CMM programmers, mechanical drafters, and designers.  These are all highly specialized and sophisticated career fields.  I’m not here to say that one path is better than the other, but I have always been impressed with the degree of knowledge/expertise that comes from some of our technical/vocational schools in the area.  These candidates typically are currently working while going to school in the evening and possess a very strong work ethic.  These people are taken very seriously and are admired by hiring managers.  The same rings true with engineering candidates.  Several universities across the Southeastern U.S. yield some of the very best engineering talent in the country, if not the world.

What does this say about people in the work force who do not hold a degree?  From an early age, most of us were taught that you have to have a college degree to enjoy success and financial gains, yet many people continue to grow and thrive in the U.S. workforce without a degree.  According to an article in Forbes, 68% of Americans 25 or older do not have a bachelor’s degree.  Some of these include very powerful business leaders such as Sir Richard Branson, Walt Disney, Mary Kay Ash, Michael Dell, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Rachael Ray, and Steve Jobs – just to name a few.  So why is it that these individuals were able to thrive without any form of advanced degree?  It can be argued that these people all started their own businesses and didn’t need degrees since they were entrepreneurs.  Qualities they all possess include innovation, drive, and creativity to make their individual businesses successful.  As someone that works with numerous companies across several industries, I’m starting to notice a trend.  While companies publicly require a college degree, I believe that they secretly desire experience instead.  Having both seals the deal!

 

Written by: Chad Hardin, Technical Recruiter