It’s Their Space

MySpace, blogging, texting. If you don’t have a true understanding of these words and how they’re influencing today’s candidate pool, chances are you aren’t effectively tapping into the next generation of our workforce. Whether you are a third-party recruiter, corporate recruiter, or hiring manager, showing up for a war for talent with a knife isn’t going to get you very far.

With all due respect to my friends at Monster, HotJobs, CareerBuilder, and so on, they have become a knife in a recruiter’s arsenal. When I started my career, I began working for a very successful staffing agency. I had no experience in recruitment. I just knew I liked the pace and the competition, and I figured out quickly that if you worked hard, you could make great money. So, I came in everyday, logged on to Monster.com, and proceeded to pick the low-hanging fruit. Back then, it was pretty much all low-hanging fruit.

No one had time to cold-call the passive candidate; by the time you convinced him/her to take a look at your job, you could have submitted five or six candidates whom you found off a job board, all of whom were eager to interview for your position. Anyone in the recruitment space today knows just how much times have changed. During my career at this staffing agency, they made us read the book Danger in the Comfort Zone by Judith M. Bardwick, which is about employees getting complacent. A great book, but I never really got the full effect of that read until recently. You see, we’ve spent so much time worrying about our employees being caught in the danger zone that we as corporate leaders have let ourselves start to slip into this zone. We aren’t looking forward enough, we don’t have an understanding of what the next generation of our corporate leaders is doing now, and we don’t have a definition of what an A-player in this generation looks like. A-players in this generation share the following characteristics:

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  • They understand the importance of a good education, and they know the value of that education before they walk across the stage and grab their diplomas. They aren’t going to accept a $28,000 job that has them working from 7-7 just to get that next promotion. The days of hiring fresh college grads and dangling the promotion carrot in front of them while you work them to death are gone, and if your company is still trying this method, chances are, you’ve got the low end of that graduating class working for you.
  • They blog, they MySpace, and they prefer texting to actually calling and speaking to someone. I had a colleague tell me a story about a negotiation dance he was recently involved in with a young professional. This candidate was just what he was looking for: solid education, proven work ethic, and not afraid to make mistakes. They went back forth a few times when it came down to salary, so he sent her a text that said, “Final offer: 50k.” Five minutes later, his cell phone chimed with her reply back that read “deal.”
  • They care about what amenities your company has to offer, and I’m not talking about 401(k)s. Comfortable dress (not business casual; I’m talking flip-flop comfortable), BlackBerrys, and their own parking spots. These things matter, and it can even mean they’d accept a lesser-paying job in order to not keep their flip flops in the closet.
  • They don’t attend job fairs, mass-submit their resumes, or look for jobs in the help-wanted sections. Yes, job fairs and print ads do work, but let’s face it; those methods target a specific audience, one that I am not speaking of. I love Jason Goldberg’s intro speech about his company, Jobster.com. He stands in front of a room full of recruiters and HR leaders, and he says something like, “How many of you landed your job by going to a job fair?” Or, “How many of you landed your job by submitting your resume online?” In rooms of hundreds, you’d be lucky if 10 hands went up. So, why do we continue to shell out thousands of dollars to run ads and hold job fairs?
  • They care about your company’s brand. Notice how Starbucks continues to employ young, energetic people with a sense of what exceptional customer service is all about. One reason is the endless supply of caffeine, but the most important reason is the brand that Starbucks Corporation wears. It screams energy, and invites employees to be themselves and have fun at work. Perception is everything; if your company doesn’t consider its brand a key priority objective, you’ve already lost half the battle.
  • The fact remains that you don’t have to know who Gnarls Barkley is, or own a Sidekick, or even maintain a MySpace account to successfully recruit and retain the next generation of corporate leaders. What you do have to do is avoid getting caught in your own danger zone. Stop thinking that the way you conduct business today is always going to be the right way, and start coming to the realization that times aren’t just changing; they’ve already changed.

Ask yourself the following two questions: 1) How effective are the weapons in your recruitment arsenal? and 2) Do you know the space you’re fighting in? I’m interested to see your comments and continued discussion.

Before joining Countrywide Financial three years ago, Michael Kascsak spent seven years in a search firm management capacity. As vice president of recruitment, he is responsible for the daily recruitment functions of Countrywide's Wholesale Lending Division; he has also been tasked with driving the change management initiative for the company's Talent Management System, Taleo.

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14 Comments on “It’s Their Space

  1. Michael — Enjoyed your article. Consider us a laser-guided smart bomb in your arsenal.
    Seriously, the next gen coming up (we’ve exhausted English, so let’s call them Gen Alpha, a la hurricane naming) comes with a number of expectations that we will need to meet in order to effectively communicate with & hire them.
    It’s an interesting time.
    Here’s an article that provides a good flavor of what’s here (and what’s to come):
    http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=17061&ch=infotech

    Martin Burns, Recruiting Manager
    Zoom Information, Inc. | 307 Waverley Oaks Rd. | Waltham, MA 02452

    Direct: 781.693.7539 | Fax: 781.693.7510 | E-Mail: Burns@ZoomInfo.com

    Find People Summaries: http://www.zoominfo.com

    Find Me At: http://www.zoominfo.com/MartinBurns

  2. Hi Michael

    I have to admit it takes a huge amount of effort just to keep up with the technology; it wasn?t that long ago when we started to use mobiles let alone computers.

    I cannot help feel that sometimes all this technology with the internet and communications is just there to support us in the recruitment business, it just seems so perfect.

    I don?t want to sound too old but I remember when we had to wait for the cv to come in via the post and when it did we would send it by post rather than by fax so we closed the client over the phone for an interview without even sending the cv.

    In fact while I reminisce I remember spending nearly half a day looking through filing cabinets of cv?s, till I found the candidate with the right skill set (had to read each cv cover to cover then to)

    Thank heavens times have changed.

  3. Yes! Finally somebody on here that knows what they are talking about and not just another old fogey muttering about how they have been doing business the same way for 90 years! I have been telling people to use myspace and craigslist now for awhile. Like I said the people ‘in the know’ already know and those who don’t know will be going the way of the dinosaur. Great article, kudos to you!

    Gregory J. Masley CNE,CNA,MCSE
    Owner – Masley And Associates
    http://www.masleyassociates.com

  4. Michael,

    I completely agree to the points highlighted by you.

    I also had the same experience and have the same feeling that portal sites are not enough for the emerging demands of the market.

    To a certain extent I can even say that these portal sites do not offer you people who are really in demand and can be an excellent fitment for your requirement.

    I am actually promoting referals and strong networking skills in my team members to perform better. Because I feel, thats a better channel to reach to the people who are not available at any site or either show in any job fair.

    Having mentioned all this I would like you to put some light on this as to how we can actually reach the pool of people, whom we are looking at.

    Amit.

  5. Just about a year ago, I flew into Texas to meet with you and talk to you about continuing my career and joining your team. You offered me a chance to work for the number 1 mortgage company. After meeting with you, and other managers, it did not take very much to convince me to come on board.
    Talk about change, I felt some fear, (left a company after 17 years of service and dedication) some sense of loss, (moved with my husband, away from all my children, and elderly parents) and some apprehension. However, I felt confident when I left your office that I was going to experience the exhilaration of a new experience, and the rush of making a leap and pursuing new opportunities.
    Reading this reinforces my reasons for accepting the opportunity to work for you. The challenges I have met have helped me to grow in ways I never thought I could.
    A mentor and friend of mine gave me Charles Swindoll?s verse ?Attitude? and it has followed me throughout my career. ?The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life? I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react? we are in charge of our Attitude.?

  6. Looking outside the box needs to become the norm, not the occasional solution.

    What are we doing differently today, then one year ago, or even 2 years ago? The candidate pool is getting tighter. How are we staying competitive?

    We need to change it up. We need to look at new and different forms of recruiting. This means learning how to use the tools that are currently at our fingertips such as our own Applicant Tracking Systems. Learning its operations, taking advantage of its capabilities, reviewing websites like My Space and the like; additionally considering services that can help optimize recruiting functions.

  7. I love this article, being an avid MySpace user I think that it’s a great networking tool that would most definitely benefit recruiters. My problem is that I find it challenging helping those that are ‘stuck in the past’ to see the benefits of using things such as texting, MySpace, blogging, etc.

    Nonetheless, MySpace is a great place to stay up-to-date on how the next generation of workers are changing.

  8. Michael,

    As I was reading this article, I nearly fell out of my seat! Inwardly, I was screaming and jumping for joy hooray hooray you and so many others on this board are committed to this field and understand that the root of this business is about people. Not machines or quick fix devices- simply put people.

    Yes we must use every resource available, which includes technology, but at the end of the day have we used those resources to make meaningful connections? Did we reach people on their terms and help them along their journey? Have we aligned organizations with people who not only fit in the environment but can also excel? Or have we become mindless disgruntled paper pushers?

    I strongly believe to build these huge walls of separation undermines the very ideal of what we are about…connecting with people. From a candidates perspective sending your hopes and dreams in cyber space to embark upon your next life journey can be disheartening when you get little to no response. From the recruiter?s side swimming through the masses of people hoping to be recognized, can be a daunting experience!

    So how do we soar? By becoming intertwined in our markets- intimately understanding both our clients and being that bridge that links the two. We must continue to be experts at embarking upon new and better ways to reach people.

    Great article!

  9. Hi Michael,
    Thank you for taking the time to write about the wonderful site, MySpace, and its pivotal role in recruiting. I’m a big fan of it personally and professionally. It’s a great advertising tool that’s free and easy to use and maintain. You can always get IT or a technically savvy person to help make your MySpace page exciting.

    I’m trying to get permission to create a MySpace page for my company.

    I would also agree with your statements about today’s job-seekers differ since I’m part of that generation.

    Thank you for depicting us in a flattering and positive manner.

  10. Michael, I can’t agree with you more and that’s why I created my company. As it’s quality and not quantity and we do reach people where they spend time online. Passive job seekers don’t spend time on job boards but they do spend time reading about their job and industry and that’s where we capture them. We offer our customers to views..applicants..those with resumes and passive…those without. As a passive candidate doesn’t have a resume or maybe we caught them at work and most of the time we recruit them without them evening knowing it. You also may want to check out the article I wrote about the marines using my space to recruit…it’s on jasongorham.com. Cheers.

  11. Jessica, I encounter the same situation. Interesting part of this – I’m in the same age bracket as many of those people that are ‘in the past.’ I even encountered this while trying to set up our internet Career Center and attempt to market my employer. Providing monthly reports on the hits per page – and finding out which hires have used the site – has garnered some appreciation for the true volume of potential effect. But it’s true, you have to have someone open to the change and to be able to understand what it is that you’re trying to do to enable the company to meet its mission. If you don’t have a numbers person, beating them up with the numbers is useless! Similarly, you may have explain the technology in order to show how it is effective to those who may not be as technologically proficient – and remember with that presentation to address how you will continue to attract qualified workers who may not need nor use the same technological features.

  12. Great article. I believe sociologists have dubbed this new generation as Millennials? Here is an detail of this generation on CNET. It is one of many such articles.

    http://news.com.com/The+millennials+usher+in+a+new+era/2009-1025_3-5944666.html

    Of course, I should have been able to post the link as hypertext. Sigh.

    Anyway, I have two colleagues who treat me as an alien, when I talk about edge recruiting, and what’s ‘happening out here.’ I’ve sent them articles, given real examples, and … I appreciate your article, Michael, and the follow-up comments by many.

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