CEOx1Day Partner and TalentEgg President, Mary Barroll, offers insights on how companies can attract future leaders.

For today’s young professionals, the days when having top marks guaranteed a top job is long gone. While the former approach to recruiting was to hire for technical skills and fire for attitude, more and more of Canada’s best employers are living by the maxim: ‘You can teach technical skills, but you can’t teach character.’ “We’re looking for tomorrow’s leaders,” said Rebecca Heaslop, Chief Talent Advisor and Executive Coach at Leadership Insight agrees “We hire for behaviours and attitudes. The technical skills are a given.”

This shift from IQ to EQ, or technical skills to soft skills, denotes a truly transformative change in recruiting young talent. By 2020, experts agree that millennials and Gen Z will comprise over 59% of the workforce, so by sheer numbers they are influencing the future of the workplace. Combined with the external influences of globalization, the pace of technological innovation and the influence of artificial intelligence, the modern workplace needs employees with a new set of attributes that allows them to embrace change and thrive in an ever-changing business environment. The competition for recruiting the best candidates is becoming even more intense among employers who believe that their future success depends on finding the leaders of tomorrow, today.

Eric Down, Talent Supply Manager at P&G Canada, says that the war for talent among top employers is intensified by the breakneck speed of workplace changes. "It will take you two years to train someone in a certain role, but by then that role might not even exist, or they might need to move on to a new role. We need people who are strong leaders, who work well with others, and are mentally agile and can adapt to new roles and positions.”

Corporate recruiters also emphasize the importance of being a team player and someone who is constantly learning on the job. “It’s not just about confidence and networking skills – they also have to be humble about learning,” says Andre Gonthier, Director of Campus Recruiting for North America at Sun Life Financial. “Strong technical skills are a given, but they also need to be able to communicate, contribute and function well in teams.”

What Makes an Organization Appealing to Young Leaders?

But understanding which leadership characteristics to recruit for is only half the battle. The other half is understanding your target candidates and what they are seeking from the employment relationship.

At TalentEgg, we’ve uncovered some unexpected findings through conducting our annual Gen Y and Gen Z students and grad surveys for the Guide to Canadian Campus Recruitment. Overwhelmingly, salary, while still a carrot, comes well behind the opportunity for professional development and growth within an organization as attractive to a young job seeker. It’s even less important among Gen Z.

Here's what survey respondents chose as the most important aspect of a job in our 2017 survey:

  • 54.5% Gaining job experience
  • 24.1% Future career path
  • 6.9% Mentorship
  • 6.2% Job security
  • 4.8% Flexible hours
  • 2.8% Salary
  • 0.7% Perks and benefits

Here are a few additional insights we’ve discovered about what Gen Y and Gen Z candidates seek from their employer:

  • Transparency and authenticity are hugely important to young candidates.
  • Opportunity to make a difference within the organization and in the community. Some of the most visited pages on an employer’s career site are the company's Corporate Social Responsibility activities.
  • Preference for flatter hierarchies and more access to senior executives. Instead of being managed, these young professionals prefer to be empowered to become their own leaders and to work collaboratively within teams.
  • More frequent and less formal performance feedback than previous generations and mentorship programs that provide more direct access to senior management.

How Companies Are Engaging These Unique Candidates

To attract, engage and recruit millennial and Gen Z candidates, successful recruiters are combining data points like these with their knowledge of young candidates’ aspirations, pain points and frustrations. But before recruiters can hire top young talent, they have to catch their attention which is why more and more HR departments are borrowing marketing strategies for recruiting purposes in a relatively new industry practice know as "employer branding."

With the rising influence of social media and digital marketing, it's becoming critical to ensure the employer brand supports and co-promotes the corporate brand. We see more and more HR teams working collaboratively with Marketing to ensure that these brands are aligned and telling the same story. Companies like Shell, P&G, BMO, Sun Life and RBC, among many others have embraced employer branding strategies that highlight the key benefits of working for them, or their "employer value proposition" and they are using a variety of innovative methods to communicate this to their target employees.

Taking a Multi-Channel Approach

P&G’s tagline for its on-campus marketing is, "We build leaders the same way we build leading brands.” Eric Down, P&G Talent Supply Manager, sees it as a powerful message to attract top-quality talent, who presumably want to work with other top-quality individuals. “Aligning our industry brands with decades of success, we aim to convey that if you want to be the best, you want to work with the best, and you should work with us.”

P&G uses every channel available to convey online employer branding: social media marketing, email blasts, in-person on-campus events and most recently with TalentEgg's geo-fenced mobile marketing campaigns and large format on-campus murals to get through "all the noise" that bombards candidates. “The more touchpoints, the more opportunities we have for students to start asking questions and to check out our website. This leads to more applications and higher talent quality” says Mr. Down.

Communicating with Candidates Early

Andre Gonthier, Director of Campus Recruiting for North America at Sun Life Financial, agrees that differentiation is key to competing for top talent, but he also believes it's about "building a relationship." Mr. Gonthier wants potential candidates to start wondering, “What’s it like at Sun Life? Who are you as an organization? Do your values align with mine?” as a jumping off point to exploring the opportunities offered by Sun Life.

In addition to campus events and employer branding activities carried out on Sun Life’s career site and through social media channels, the company is also investing in on-campus murals and digital screens as a way of starting to build awareness with students that Sun life is an employer of choice, even before recruitment begins.

Engaging Top Talent through Competition

Companies like Shell challenge students to come up with solutions to real-world business problems through a competition framework. Winning students are awarded the chance to participate in an internship, receive a bursary or another prize. This is a win-win, as the employer gets a chance to assess the candidates’ capacity to apply their problem-solving skills and also gains an opportunity to emphasize their corporate values – like innovation or diversity – to other participants.

Telling Great Stories

Walmart Canada has also invested heavily in building out robust employer branding strategies to promote its leadership development programs, aimed at attracting and developing Canada’s future leaders. Walmart combines, online, social media and campus events to recruit for its “Developing Accelerated Retail Experience” Program (DARE).

Working with TalentEgg, this year Walmart ramped up its employer branding by producing a video featuring five top recent hires and graduates of its DARE program. This video aimed to deliver an authentic, employee-driven narrative highlighting four important touchpoints known to be appealing to millennial talent: diversity, professional development, career path and culture.

Opening Up a One-on-One Dialogue

Telecommunications giant, Rogers, combines its campus recruitment activities, and online and social media marketing, with an online chat called “Office Hours” where students are able to interact live with recruiters at Rogers to find out more about their Leadership Development Program. Along with the employer branding activities, the live, interactive session increased engagement with young candidates, helping students and grads get to know the people and the culture at Rogers in a more personal way.

Leveraging Their Student Programs

Other employers, including TD and Manulife, are getting double duty from their internship and co-op programs. During their time at the company, students learn (and experience) the employer value proposition and upon returning back to college or university, have the opportunity to serve as campus ambassadors who help attract and engage other young candidates.

Is Good Branding Enough?

Of course the most successful employers are not just using employer branding to attract candidates, but they’re also empowering their young employees to help create marketing content and disseminate it to other potential candidates. This creates an authentic peer-to-peer engagement that can’t be replicated by traditional recruitment activities. Employers who can’t adapt to the massive changes occurring in recruitment are destined to be left out in the cold by young leaders, putting future success of their organization in jeopardy.

And this trend isn’t just benefitting recruiters and HR. Savvy marketers are recognizing that a company’s employees can become the most powerful ambassadors of the company through their own social media channels and external networks – deepening consumer engagement with the authentic voice of real people who believe in the organization’s mission, vision and values.

 

TalentEgg.ca is Canada’s most popular job site and online career resource for students and recent graduates. They work with top Canadian organizations to create innovative, efficient and cost-effective campaigns to reach top students and recent graduates across the country to hatch their careers.

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