Today it’s a candidate’s market, full of bountiful opportunities and lots of choices. The best candidates know exactly how valuable they are, and that isn’t good news for our industry.
Candidates are often so intoxicated with their own worth that they do not see the need for outside advice or help. They’ve got the power, and they aren’t afraid to use it. Exceptional offers are being turned down at record levels. Candidates are growing increasingly selective. It’s becoming more and more difficult to keep control of our candidates and the hiring process.
I don’t know about you, but I have experienced a growing sense of entitlement within the talent market, at all levels.
If you’re frustrated, you’re not alone. I recently talked to a colleague who has billed over $400K annually for two decades in pharmaceutical recruiting. He said the past 10 months have been the least rewarding of his entire career. “Candidates aren’t returning my calls,” he said. “They’re accepting counteroffers and falling off in huge numbers.”
This is a conversation I’m having with recruiters all around the country. We’re losing our influence with candidates, and we need to reestablish our relevance in a very real way. But how? What do we do on our end to remain vital in a high-demand, low-supply market?
This trend requires a new approach. It is time to move from the tactical recruiter to the valued career coach and trusted business adviser. And how is this accomplished?
By developing a thorough and true understanding of our candidates. By recognizing their hot buttons, the reasons they are considering a change, their likes and dislikes concerning their current positions. By getting a handle on their dream jobs. But this is not new. This is what being a good recruiter is all about.
Don’t be fooled. There are new variables in this familiar equation. They are Generations X and Y, and along with the baby boomers, they make up a volatile generational mix. To attain success today, recruiters must acknowledge and understand the unique values, needs, and desires of these distinct generations.
A one-size-fits-all approach to recruiting is no longer viable. We must now consider candidates’ generational profiles to ensure success in changing professional relationships and work environments. Not just typical characteristics, but what drives them and motivates them. What is behind their decision-making processes?
With three generations in the workforce, each with unique world views and varied work styles, it becomes increasingly difficult to completely understand a candidate’s true individual needs. It is our job to make sure there is harmony and under-standing between the recruiter and the candidate, despite potentially very real differences. Our goal is to avoid fall-offs and turn-downs, to make solid placements that are successful for both client and candidate. To do this, it is imperative to have strategies in place that make it easier to navigate this generational mine-field.
Three generations make up over 90 percent of our workforce: baby boomers, born between 1946 and1964; Generation X, born between 1965 and 1981; and Generation Y, born between 1982 and 2002. As recruiters, we must take the time to learn about each generation’s likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, and work and communication styles in order to make successful placements.
A short overview of the generations can be used as a helpful guideline:
Baby boomers are hardworking, competitive team players with a youthful self-image. They tend to be more optimistic than their younger counterparts. They are often stereotyped as old-fashioned, rigid, and averse to change. Boomers have a get-it-done attitude in the workplace. They respect authority and value accomplishment. They communicate best through a structured network. They crave rewards and career advancement and are motivated by others’ recognition of their hard work. They are highly loyal employees, and for them, work comes first.
Recruiters can influence boomers by appealing to these characteristics. Tell them exactly what impact they will have on an organization. Share the company’s vision and how the candidate is well suited to help them accomplish it. Appeal to the boomer’s natural love of a challenge by bringing positions to them that will help them shine.
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Generation Xers value work/ life balance, so when presenting a position to them, make sure to outline the ways in which it is congruent with this philosophy. Gen Xers have a self-reliant and practical approach to the workplace. But they are often seen by others as slackers, selfish, and cynical. They can be casual and direct in their approach to coworkers and managers, but they have the potential to contribute great things to the right team.
Gen Xers enjoy a flexible workplace where rules aren’t too rigid and the atmosphere is collaborative. They thrive in a job that offers a balance of fair compensation and ample time off. Gen Xers most definitely don’t possess the employer loyalty of the boomers and can be job hoppers. To successfully work with this inwardly focused generation, appeal to their individual career goals. Tell them why the position you are presenting is the best next step in their careers. Explain precisely what’s in it for them. Xers really want to continue to grow professionally, so make sure you inform them of any training and development they would receive in the opportunity.
Generation Yers are the team builders. They are the ultimate at multitasking. They are technologically savvy and ready for fun. They are perceived by the older generations as disrespectful, lacking focus, and too dependent on technology, but these youngest workers are highly desirable team players. They are eager to please and respond very well to public praise. They will work hard to get the job done, but they are deadline, not schedule, focused. When presenting a position to Gen Y, keep in mind that they value their autonomy. When polled, Gen Yers cited their number one priority as a good salary followed by advancement opportunities. When recruiting them, make sure your client companies understand they may have to pay more for this rising generation.
Gen Y is less inclined to pursue formal leadership positions, so you may need to do some fast talking to get them to see the value of taking on more responsibility. They seek varied experiences in life and in work. Explain how the opportunity will give them the chance to broaden their skills and vision. To successfully recruit them to an organization, show them how it will help them to achieve their personal and professional goals.
You will find that Gen Years do not hesitate to bring their personal life to work. Make client companies aware of this. Gen Yers tend to be more loyal than Gen Xers, but their ties are to the people they work with. Remember, they will get the job done, but they aren’t going to hang around the office just to put in old-fashioned “sweat equity.” Terms that appeal to this generation are: job sharing, tele-commuting, and compressed workweeks. Don’t try to force an old-fashioned, 9-to-5 opportunity on a Gen Yer. You’re setting yourself, your candidate, and your client up for failure.
The key to success in this changing market is to recognize and address the two critical issues. The multigenerational workforce lends a new twist to traditional methods. You must work to become as familiar with your candidates and their unique generational traits as you are with any position and client company. It is no longer enough to treat people the way you would like to be treated. Chances are they will have very different preferences. It’s up to you to understand each profile, and to honor it with every individual and every interaction.
Second, the talent shortage gives increased value and power to candidates. Now is the time to establish a career-coach relation-ship with your candidates. Make sure you are seen as knowledgeable and trustworthy. Bring value to the process – develop a true understanding of what their needs are and how you can influence and assist their decisions. Work to build solid relationships in which you are seen as a vital part of the process, giving you influence in decision-making. Don’t waste your time and your credibility by presenting the wrong opportunities – because in today’s brutal market, you probably won’t get a second chance.
Jon Bartos is a premier speaker, writer, and consultant on all aspects of human capital. As CEO of Jonathan Scott International in Mason, Ohio, he has achieved industry-leading success. He is one of an elite group of executive recruiters who bill on average over $1 million annually. Since 1999, he has achieved over $9 million in cash-in on his personal desk performance. Jon has also established JSI as a top 10% executive search firm. The office has won 15 international awards in the MRI franchise system, including International Billing Manager of the Year and Top 10 SC Office. Jon runs an executive-coaching program for recruiters and recruiting managers called “Magnum Program.” He also hosts a career-focused talk show on Fox radio, “Talent Wins with Jon Bartos, Your Personal Career Coach.” Are you ready to take your company or career to the next level? Jon can be reached at (513) 701-5910, firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.talentwinsonline.com.