THE TECHNACIOUS RECRUITER NEWSLETTER

October 30, 2008   view past issues

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Feature: Generation A

There’s been lots (and lots) written and spoken about the generations that make up the contemporary American workforce. Every recruiter on the planet now knows that there are Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Ys or Millennials, and we are increasingly aware of their identifying attributes. According to generational commentators, for example, Millennials crave upward mobility, Boomers strive for compensation and benefits, and Gen Xers want their work balanced with a thriving social life. Ignore any of those characteristics, the pundits say, and you’ll have a very hard time recruiting and subsequently retaining the fifty-, thirty- and twenty-somethings in the workforce.

It’s an important perspective, I suppose, because we are in the business of sales, and sales success depends upon knowing your customer. You can’t possibly convince a Baby Boomer to buy your organization’s value proposition as an employer if you try to sell them with an argument that will best resonate with a Gen Xer or a Millennial and, of course, the converse of that is also true. But here’s the rub. Unlike in product sales, all of your potential customers in recruiting are not the same. If you’re selling widgets, one Baby Boomer or one Gen Xer or one Millennial is exactly like any other. They’re simply a wallet carrying human of a certain age. If you’re a recruiter, on the other hand, that commonality disappears. Distinctions in talent within generations are real and every bit as important-and maybe more-than distinctions among the generations.

To put it bluntly, all Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Ys are not created equal, at least in terms of the talent they have and use. Some are “A” level performers, some are “C” level performers, and others, for whatever reason, perform below acceptable standards. We all know that-it’s the reality with which we work. And that reality supports the identification of a new generation of workers, one that I call Generation A. If the traditional age-based generations are vertical silos within the U.S. workforce, Generation A is a horizontal segment that cuts across those silos. It includes the “A” level talent within each generation, the gifted workers all of us most want to recruit.

As with traditional generations, the members of Gen A have a number of unique characteristics that identify and set them apart. The key to recruiting success in today’s labor market, therefore, is to recognize and respect these distinctions. In other words, if you want to hire the “A” level performers in every generation, you must tailor your recruitment messaging not to their age, but to their talent.

What are these defining attributes of Gen A? Here’s a partial list:

  • In most cases (even in today’s economy), Gen As are employed. The only way to recruit them, therefore, is to present a value proposition that is compelling enough to sell them on doing the one thing humans most hate to do: change. You have to convince them to go from the devil they know-their current boss, commute and employer-to the devil they don’t know-a new boss, a different commute and your organization. That requires an infinitely more persuasive job posting or recruitment ad than those that typically appear on job boards and in newspapers today.
  • Top performers have different motivations. Most “A” level performers are driven by the need to achieve. They have to be the best at their profession, craft or trade, and they crave the indicia of that success. They want the highest salary, biggest office and the most attention from the boss. To recruit them, therefore, an organization must be able to demonstrate that the opportunity for collecting such rewards within its workplace is significant and real. But even that’s not enough to attract all of the superior performers in each generation. There’s another segment that’s equally as talented, but works for a different motivation. Sometimes called “B” level performers, they are driven by what one writer called “mental chocolate” or the intrinsic satisfaction that comes from doing a job well. To recruit that cohort within the generations, recruiters must prove that their organization offers challenging work that enables individual workers to excel.
  • Gen As never, ever look for a job. In fact, they can’t even conceive of themselves as job seekers. Why? Because every job change they’ve made in their career was initiated by someone else. In other words, they believe that recruiters look for them; they don’t look for a job. That doesn’t make them passive, however. They do keep an eye out for career advancement opportunities. They are always willing to consider a new position if they can be convinced that it will enhance their standing in their field, enable them to acquire state-of-the-art skills and/or contribute to important work that will be respected by their peers. To activate their interest, therefore, recruiters must tout those advantages and appeal to the Gen A candidate’s ego. Recruiters must sell them on their understanding that the Gen A person is special and not just another resume in the database.
  • Gen As are savvy consumers. This attribute presents two challenges: First, because they do not conceive of themselves as job seekers, they have to be drawn to your recruiting (or what is really a sales) process. They won’t visit your corporate career site or send in their resume on their own volition. You must have an employment brand that’s powerful and well promoted enough to catch their attention and entice them to do so. Said another way, your employment brand advertising has to be so good that Gen As can’t help themselves; they are compelled to pay you a visit. Then, you have to provide an experience that will convince them your branding message-the attributes of your employment experience-was true and accurate. Just as you do by test driving a car, they will test drive your organization as an employer by evaluating how you treat them as a candidate. It begins with simple courtesy, of course, but also includes the extent to which the activities of your recruiting process are aligned with the attributes you’ve advertised. Only if that happens-only if the expectation you’ve created with your brand actually comes true in your process-will Gen As buy your organization as an employer.
  • So, here’s the bottom line. If you want to win the War for Any Talent, tailor your recruiting to the age differences among generations. If you want to win the War for the Best Talent, focus, instead, on the talent differences within generations. Why? Because the best talent-Generation A-was born in 1947, 1976 and in 1990, as well.

    Thanks for reading,

    Peter

    P.S. Commit an Intentional Act of Kindness. Do something special for a friend or colleague in these difficult times. Tell about them WEDDLE’s newsletter. It’s the best advice they’ll never have to pay for!

    P.S.S. READER’S ALERT: Don’t miss the write-up below on WEDDLE’s latest book-Finding Needles in a Haystack. Shally Steckerl called it “A rare and uniquely useful reference guide for recruiters!”.


    This Issue’s Sponsor: Recognizing Richard Rabbit

    This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of Recognizing Richard Rabbit, Peter Weddle’s big message in a little book that is well on its way to becoming a business best seller.

    Recognizing Richard Rabbit is a fable for adults, young and not so young. In the genre of Who Moved My Cheese?, it’s a tale about some forest friends that make an amazing discovery by trying to help one of their own. They don’t uncover the key to organizational change, however, or to setting strategic goals for the enterprise. No, Recognizing Richard Rabbit is a much more personal book and its gift is unique to each and every reader.

    This story opens the door to genuine self exploration. It is all about finding the secret to authentic living. To being your own true self. How does Recognizing Richard Rabbit do that? Unlike traditional fables, this tale unfolds in two synchronized parts: one in fiction-the fable, the other in nonfiction-a parallel self-interview. In essence, you are invited to tap both the creative and the analytic sides of your brain-to probe the whole of your inherent talent-so you can find the pathway to the person you are meant to be.

    What’s that have to do with recruiters and HR professionals? Despite all of the technology it now involves, recruiting is still fundamentally an exercise in forging genuine, empathetic connections with other people. And you can only make such connections if you are being authentic, if you are being true to yourself. In other words, Recognizing Richard Rabbit will not only help you to find the You of your dreams, it will improve your ability to recruit top prospects, as well.

    So, what are you waiting for? Get your copy of Recognizing Richard Rabbit today. All you have to do is call WEDDLE’s at 317.598.9768 or click here. Don’t delay. This is one book you won’t want to miss! Buy your copy of Recognizing Richard Rabbit right away.


    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    A recent issue of Associations Now, a publication of the American Society of Association Executives, included an article that introduced the “JEA leader” or a leader with just enough anxiety. The premise of the piece is that “Great leaders create just enough anxiety within themselves and for others to optimize performance and build great companies.” How do you do that? The author, Robert Rosen, cites three attributes you must nurture. They’re described below with comments from me.

  • You must develop realistic optimism or “the ability to tell the truth about the present while dreaming the future.” It’s an interesting but also potentially dangerous idea because if you do one-dream the future-but not the other-tell the truth-you end up with a mortgage crisis, a financial market crisis and a banking crisis.
  • You must be driven by constructive impatience or “the ability to build a positive, supportive environment while instilling in people a sense of urgency and a drive for results.” This too is a positive concept with a dark side. The recent focus on ends achieved at whatever means-it’s called executive compensation in business-has produced the greatest leadership crisis in more than a generation.
  • Be willing to show confident humility or “the ability to lead with power and generosity at the same time.” Sadly, in today’s world of work, we’ve seen lots of the former and a perversion of the latter. CEO salaries have experienced triple digit gains, while working men and women have had pay increases fail even to keep up with the pace of inflation. I’d describe that as power and self generosity with stinginess for everyone else.
  • The Institute for Corporate Productivity released the results of its study of HR management practices. It found that 72% of the HR professionals in its survey rated talent retention as their key issue in 2008. Seven-in-ten rated talent engagement that way, and 64% said that recruiting was their number one challenge. At the same time, better than four-out-of-ten (44%) of the respondents said that a lack of time was significantly eroding their ability to do their work. With all due respect to these professionals, it’s not time that’s the problem; it’s money. They don’t have the time they need because they don’t have the staff they deserve, and they don’t have the staff they deserve because they don’t have the budget to pay them. Consider these numbers from BNA:

  • The median HR budget as a percentage of operating costs in a company of 2,500 employees is just 0.8%. That’s right. Less than 1 percent. So much for the notion that employees are a company’s most important asset.
  • The median HR budget for companies with 2,000-2,4999 employees is better. It’s a whopping 1.0%. The same is true of companies with 500-999 employees.
  • Only the smallest of companies-those with fewer than 250 employees-have a median HR budget of any appreciable size, and it’s just 2 percent.
  • Bottom line: HR Departments will never have enough time to do the important work for which they’re responsible until their employers spend more on HR than they spend on green fees for their executives.

    The National Association of Colleges and Employers published the findings from their latest survey of employment expectations among soon-to-graduate college students. What do these new diploma holders want? The top five responses were:

  • Advancement
  • Job security
  • A good insurance package
  • Friendly coworkers
  • A good location.
  • As the association notes, these findings seem to suggest that today’s college students may be less likely than those in previous classes to hop from one job to another in their first years of employment. They appear to be looking for an organization that will nurture their careers and their lives. In other words, it’s less about work/life balance and more about meaningful work balanced by a lifestyle they can count on.

    Kennedy Information is offering a special $200 discount for WEDDLE’s readers who register for their Recruiting 2008 Conference and Expo. The event will be held in Orlando, FL on November 17-19 with WEDDLE’s Publisher Peter Weddle presenting the opening keynote with his way-outside-the-box session entitled “The Carrot in Recruiting Success.” Everyone who attends will receive a copy of Peter’s mega hit new book, Recognizing Richard Rabbit as well as be able to pick and choose among presentations in seven different tracks: healthcare, recruiting, tools, hospitality, retention, legal and sourcing. So, register now for this special event and stop bye and say hello to Peter after his session. To register for the conference, please click here.

    WEDDLE’s has released a powerful new tool for recruiters. Called Finding Needles in a Haystack, it’s the first comprehensive listing of keywords for successfully searching resume databases online and off. The book provides thousands of search terms and phrases for the:

  • engineering,
  • finance,
  • healthcare,
  • human resources,
  • sales & marketing,
  • technology,
  • and other fields.
  • If you’re not getting the yield you need from job board resume databases, data mining or even your own resume management system, this is the reference book for you. In fact, sourcing guru Shally Steckerl described this book as “A rare and uniquely useful reference guide for recruiters!” It doesn’t get any better than that! To order your copy, please call WEDDLE’s at 317.598.9768 or click here. Get Finding Needles in a Haystack today!

    WEDDLE’s also offers a number of other publications for recruiters seeking to win the War for the Best Talent and maximize their ROI … their return on the Internet. They include:

  • WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet. Called the “Zagat of the online employment industry” by the American Staffing Association, it provides full-page profiles of 350 of the best job boards in a range of occupations, industries and locations;
  • WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Directory of Employment Related Internet Sites. The “address book of the online employment industry,” it lists over 9,000 sites and organizes them by the occupational fields, industries and geographies on which they focus; and
  • WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guide to Association Web Sites. The key to the “hidden talent market” online, it details the recruiting resources and capabilities that are provided at the Web-sites of over 1,900 associations and societies.
  • Postcards from Space: Being the Best in Online Recruitment & HR Management. A compilation of Peter Weddle’s columns for The Wall Street Journal, it provides a complete introduction to the Best Practices for sourcing, recruiting and retaining talent online.
  • Generalship: HR Leadership in a Time of War. The only primer on leadership that focuses on the unique challenges of the HR professional waging both a War for Relevancy in the modern corporation and a War for Talent in the 21st Century labor market.
  • So make sure you’re at the top of your game, get your WEDDLE’s books today. Click here or call WEDDLE’s at 317.598.9768.


    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guides and Directories

    There are 40,000 job boards now in operation in North America and an equal number operating elsewhere around the world. The key to recruiting top talent online, therefore, is knowing where to find and how to select the best sites for each of your requirements. WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guide identifies 350 of the top sites worldwide and provides the information you need to determine which job boards will deliver the optimum yield for you. For example:

    DoctorsJobSite.com

    http://www.doctorsjobsite.com

    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes-All

    Distribution of jobs: National-USA

    Fee to post a job: Yes-Not provided

    Posting period: Unlimited

    Can posting be linked to your site: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    Number of resumes: 73

    Source of resumes: Direct from individuals

    Top occupations among visitors: Physicians

    Other services for employers: Banner advertising, Status reports

    Member, International Association of Employment Web Sites: Yes


    Get Recognizing Richard Rabbit Today!

    This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of Recognizing Richard Rabbit, Peter Weddle’s big message in a little book that is well on its way to becoming a business best seller.

    Recognizing Richard Rabbit is a fable for adults, young and not so young. In the genre of Who Moved My Cheese?, it’s a tale about some forest friends that make an amazing discovery by trying to help one of their own. They don’t uncover the key to organizational change, however, or to setting strategic goals for the enterprise. No, Recognizing Richard Rabbit is a much more personal book and its gift is unique to each and every reader.

    This story opens the door to genuine self exploration. It is all about finding the secret to authentic living. To being your own true self. How does Recognizing Richard Rabbit do that? Unlike traditional fables, this tale unfolds in two synchronized parts: one in fiction-the fable, the other in nonfiction-a parallel self-interview. In essence, you are invited to tap both the creative and the analytic sides of your brain-to probe the whole of your inherent talent-so you can find the pathway to the person you are meant to be.

    What’s that have to do with recruiters and HR professionals? Despite all of the technology it now involves, recruiting is still fundamentally an exercise in forging genuine, empathetic connections with other people. And you can only make such connections if you are being authentic, if you are being true to yourself. In other words, Recognizing Richard Rabbit will not only help you to find the You of your dreams, it will improve your ability to recruit top prospects, as well.

    So, what are you waiting for? Get your copy of Recognizing Richard Rabbit today. All you have to do is call WEDDLE’s at 317.598.9768 or click here. Don’t delay. This is one book you won’t want to miss! Buy your copy of Recognizing Richard Rabbit right away.