Established Firms Need to Think More Like Startups to Attract Millennials

Susan Hall
Slide Show

Ten Questions to Ask a Recruiter (And One to Avoid)

Tech startups are winning the battle for Millennial talent, though they often pay 30 percent less than larger companies. They’re doing so by stressing meaning and impact of the jobs in their marketing, according to a post at Harvard Business Review.

It points to dating startup Grouper, which vows that a job there will allow you to “make a dent in the universe.” Amicus, which helps organizations raise money, promises to donate a cow in a job candidate’s name if he or she is hired.

Sure, there are a lot of  “perks” that startups increasingly use to lure talent. Hotel marketing startup buuteeq, for instance, has a benefit called “Trotamundo” that provides vacations to staff, but they have to talk to three hoteliers during their trips and come back and share what they’ve learned with staff. SEO software startup SEOmoz, which won “Perk of the Year” in the GeekWire awards, gives each staffer $3,000 for vacation.

The real key for Millennials, though, is meaningful work, according to Deloitte’s Barry Salzberg in a piece at Forbes. He writes:

…many Millennials are not driven by money or success in quite the way their parents were. This generation wants to know what your organization stands for in improving society, what it stands for in action, as opposed to blowing smoke. Millennials want to know how they will make a positive difference in the world if they join your business, not by wearing a colorful T-shirt on a special project once a year but in their actual work.

He quoted one Dartmouth undergrad who saw going to work in professions such as finance and consulting as “a tragedy of wasted minds.” Startups, on the other hand, tend to give young workers a lot of responsibility early on and make them accountable for it – not necessarily requiring new recruits to pay their dues and move up through the ranks. InfusionSoft recruiter Lauren Tassiello told me:

“People have to be able to take something and run with it. It’s like you have your own mini-business and you’re making decisions within that business, so you have to understand the impact of your actions. There’s a ton of ownership within every job.”

The authors of the HBR post say that established companies have to think more like startups in their recruiting.

My colleague Don Tennant interviewed Aaron McDaniel, author of the book, “The Young Professional’s Guide to the Working World: Savvy Strategies to Get In, Get Ahead, and Rise to the Top.” McDaniel told him:

“There are a lot of great things about Millennials — there’s an inherent energy that we have, there’s a creativity, there’s an ability to think of new ways in which to do things. So if IT leaders can help leverage these strengths, and help empower these young employees, you’re going to get a whole lot more out of them than if you simply put on restrictions and dictate things down to them.”

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