We’ve heard (and written) so much about the new generation of young people entering the workplace right now; it’s little wonder so many lazy stereotypes are used to label Gen Y-ers and Millennials that have grown up plugged in to a technological revolution that has disrupted traditional career paths.
I grew up in the 1970s and 80s of the Midlands of England. You left school with limited careers advice and worked in the same factory that employed your Dad. Failing that, you joined the police or army. If you were lucky enough to work in a bank, it was the high street bank that would take you on – and you generally stayed in the same job for decades.
When I left home and arrived in London, I was staggered by the choice on offer. Shiny high-rise buildings were packed full of great swathes of interesting-looking companies to work for. Now, 20 years later, times have changed once more and the world of work remains a complex and confusing web of roles, professions and possible futures.
That’s not to say there are more jobs available. The number of graduates sitting idly unemployed or in jobs beneath their pay aspirations is testament to the fact that being a young job seeker is hard going.
However, with easy access to a wealth of online jobs boards and recruitment platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed and Glassdoor, there is such a variety of jobs now visible; candidates can, quite rightly, feel as if the world is their oyster – and a big, fat juicy oyster at that. The truth is, there’s no more choice than there was in my day, it just feels like it.
It is a situation that continues to pile pressure on young people who – fuelled with images of false success by a celebrity-obsessed (social) media – do not often find it easy to take advantage of the perceived increase in life chances. In fact, dreams appear to be closer than they actually are for this generation, with so much information and content in front of them at the swipe of a finger.
And for business, greater visibility of roles encourages greater scrutiny. The very best talent is not only looking at your vacancy, but 101 others too. As such, it’s time for companies to wake up to the fact that they’re on stage and need to give a performance that will grab the attention of this information-hungry generation.
Twitter, Facebook and Instagram should become your tools of choice to showcase how great your company is, what it stands for and why people should be interested in working for you. Talk about your mission, explain why people love working there and how positive your customers feel about you.
Yes, talk about pay, hours and contracts. But with half of this workforce more keen than ever to work for an organisation that has a positive impact on the world (and half saying purposeful work beats a higher salary), now is the time to shout about your volunteer programme or foundation work.
Think differently about how you reach and interact with Gen Y too. At Sage, we use a lot of video to get our messages across and bring job descriptions to life. Some of it is fairly rudimentary, shot on an iPhone. But it adds authenticity and makes us appear to be more human as we can explain job roles in plain English and give people a feel as to who they might end up working with.
Despite the extraordinary number of column inches devoted to understanding what the new generation want from their careers, it is safe to say that the things most likely to make young people get out of bed in the morning are no different from what motivated the previous generation.
But in the digital age, the onus is on companies to give them enough information to want to pull back the covers and jump in the shower.
By Andy Hill, Executive Vice President Talent and Resourcing, Sage