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Three Ways to Find Generation Y

September 4, 2003
Related Topics: Diversity, Featured Article, Recruitment, Staffing Management

Here are three ways companies are finding candidates who are members of Generation Y.

Go Where They Go
The Swedish furniture maker Ikea is trying a new approach to finding young talented employees: attracting applicants with handwritten ads on the walls of public bathrooms. Spokesman Jimmy Ostholm said that after only four days they had received 60 applications, which was four to five times more than what Ikea would have gotten from a normal newspaper ad. Ostholm added that the unusual campaign was significantly cheaper than a newspaper ad, too.

    Ikea has obviously decided to go off the board with its new campaign. However absurd this may seem, the thinking behind it is sound. If you’re going to attract a new breed of employee, you have to be willing to go about it using unconventional means and advertising in unconventional locations.

    Ask yourself where the best potential recruits for your organization gather and take your campaign to that locale. Consider the visibility of the local skateboard park, public library or Internet café. Form alliances with key people in key locations and work cooperatively to give your message premium exposure. Since you are competing with video games and the Internet for the attention of this generation, use both to your advantage. Start a recruitment drive on the Web, or take flyers to the local video game store and post them where kids shopping for the latest video game can see them.

Build a Bridge for Your Future CEO
    Each year, Hy-Vee, a large supermarket chain in the Midwest, conducts a career-day seminar at its headquarters in West Des Moines, Iowa. Hy-Vee invites several hundred of its part-time, college-aged employees to this impressive meeting.

    The objective of the career day is to entice young college talent to view working at Hy-Vee as a strategic career move rather than as just a job. This gives Hy-Vee an opportunity to showcase its very impressive corporate headquarters to those who might otherwise see only the store they work in and to introduce Gen Y candidates to the company’s high-ranking personnel. The students hear personal success stories from company execs and high-paid store managers, many of whom are not much older than the students themselves. Hy-Vee’s CEO, Ron Pearson, who always addresses the students, shares how he too began his career with the company as a part-time grocery clerk.

    "This program has been remarkably effective," said vice president Rose Kleyweg Mitchell. "It gives those students who are searching for a career path the opportunity to see that their dream job may not be that far removed from their present job."

The First Responder
Gen Y employees who apply for employment at Monarch Ski & Snowboard Area in Southwestern Colorado don’t get a call from management when they are a prospective hire. The first person they hear from is a peer, and the call comes almost immediately. Monarch has decided that the best people to connect with interested Gen Ys are other Gen Ys who are already committed employees. This immediately puts the applicant at ease. If they have any questions or concerns, the Gen Y staff member can address these issues from the perspective of the applicant, letting them know how the job really works--both the pros and the cons. If the applicant has a question that the employed Gen Ys cannot answer, they are referred to management or human resources.

    The First Responder program serves Monarch well, while simultaneously aligning it with the specific needs and wants of the Gen Ys.

    First, it eliminates lengthy delays often experienced when busy managers must try to work in calls to prospective employees. There’s literally no time wasted between the time of application and the all-important first contact.

    Second, it engages the current Gen Y employees, giving them an opportunity to do something they wouldn’t normally do during the course of a typical day, satisfying their needs for change and for more advanced responsibilities.

    Third, it creates an immediate ally for the new applicant, helping them feel as if they already have a friend who works for the company. Oftentimes, the Gen Y employee will serve as a mentor or a trainer for a new employee he or she helped to recruit.

    Train your top-producing Generation Y employees to be your First Responders to assist you in the initial contact and screening of your applicants from their peer group. Trust them to ask and to answer the type of questions the new job applicants have. Invite your First Responders to sit in on the initial interview. If the applicant is hired, involve your First Responder in the orientation, the training, and the mentoring of the new employee.

From Employing Generation Why? ©2002 Eric Chester, Published Tucker House Books 1410 Vance St., Suite 201, Lakewood, Colorado. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

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