Over the last several weeks, I have been doing phone interviews for a couple sales and marketing positions here at HRI. Our focus has been on soon to be college graduates and, for our internship, current college students. It’s been awhile since I have interviewed college age applicants and I wanted to share some of my observations for others who may consider hiring members of Generation Y (I think I have that label right):
➢ These young people are impressive. Prepared, curious, enthusiastic, performing well in the classroom and engaged in multiple activities outside class. Many are engaged in charitable efforts.
➢ Many of the candidates have sought experiences to deepen their knowledge in their particular field of interest. Whether summer jobs or current work activities that coincide with their studies, these young people will bring relevant experiences and insights that we expect will be valuable. Additionally, many soon to be graduates are hungry for meaty opportunities that will challenge them rather than jobs for the sake of a job. Not one has uttered any concern with employment in “this economy”.
➢ While I have an overall positive impression from all the candidates, the young women I have spoken with have distinguished themselves. More confident, more insightful, more clear about their objectives and expectations.
➢ Many have studied or are studying abroad. The prevalence of this activity was surprising to me but my expectations are that such an experience would reflect an individual that is curious and willing to take some risks.
So what are my takeaways for you? There have been many stories about this generation and their attitudes about work. Many of the stories have actually been rather negative. Clearly, I won’t know how it all plays out until I have these folks engaged within the business but my recent experience working with the younger generation has been very positive. My plan is to challenge them, give them responsibility with the appropriate level of guidance and be there for support. I have very high expectations that these young people can have a positive impact on my company. Engaged appropriately, I believe they can have a positive impact on your business as well.
A friend of mine is currently looking to make a career change and has been completing on-line applications for various employers. The other night she called while completing an application for an employer and she could not complete the application until she input her social security number, birth date and driver’s license number. This happened with two employers that have over 5,000 employees and a formal HR organization. Yikes! I am embarrassed for their CEO and the HR VP. Ironically, the job board where the jobs were posted, advises candidates to NEVER give your social security number or birth date on an application. That is the correct advice and their request was completely inappropriate, unnecessary and deviated from the most basic of HR practices.
Why is this important to you as an employer? There are a couple of reasons: 1) Many qualified candidates don’t feel comfortable providing this information and you will not get ALL of the best candidates. 2) You could be accused of age discrimination in your recruitment process and 3) You could be responsible for information security breach associated with an identity theft. Each of these items has significant business impact; TIME, MONEY AND REPUTATION.
You may require that information to process a background verification, but you don’t need it during the first stages of the recruitment process or on the application. First, determine that an applicant is a viable candidate and then invite them to continue in the recruiting process. This requires providing additional information on a separate document which you require for a background verification. Be specific why you are asking for each bit of information. In other words, don’t ask for a driver’s license unless the job requires driving. You usually need a social security number and birthday to validate a candidate’s identity, their legal right to work in the US, and search criminal records.
As for my friend, she felt that the security of her information was more important than applying for a job with an employer who clearly didn’t understand HR basics. Trust me, those two companies missed out on one heck of a candidate!
It may be counter-intuitive in tough and challenging times, but businesses need to be proactive in creating meaningful new jobs. Growth will not come from an attitude of cutting costs or neglect of our labor forces’ needs.
With pressures on all leaders to produce profits and conserve cash, those responsible for management of your greatest asset, people, must be vocal in proactively demonstrating the value and impact that comes from new resources and investing in development. Every new hire can bring fresh eyes, new capability, and, especially, renewed positive energy to an organization.
It is the responsibility of all those tasked with “human resources” to not only manage their functional requirements, but to provide insights that fuel business results and growth. Don’t wait for the need to downsize. Proactively replace those that no longer contribute, encourage positive attitude in the organization and promote new opportunities for growth with new hires.
Adapt to competition and new opportunity by demonstrating how adding new capability through fresh resources can deliver positive growth results. Seek new energy – our friends at the magis group have an interesting opinion on this too.