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Millennials: It's all about the relationships


by Mary Jawgiel

Whether you are looking to recruit, hire, train or retain a Millennial, you need to think relationship. Gone are the days when you could place an ad in the local paper and have plenty of good candidates sending in their résumés simply on the basis of the posting. Today, most jobs are filled through referrals from people who know you or your company or who know someone who knows you or your company. Everyone is looking
for skilled, committed Millennial employees. There aren’t enough to go around and, if you don’t start cultivating them for future employment, someone else will.

These days, in order to find and keep good talent, you need to let people know what your company stands for, who works there and why they would be a good fit. If you are looking for good entry-level candidates to fill a counter sales or warehouse position, you need to start building a relationship with the principal, instructor or career counselor at your local high school, community or technical/vocational college. Attending local career fairs is the first step, but nowadays you really need to go further.

Offer to put on a class presentation about what goes on at your company. When you get there make sure you tell the story of how you got into the business and how your organization makes a difference. Research shows Millennials place a high value on making a difference, so tell them how your company helps keep the economy moving and give specifics about how you have helped solve challenges faced by your customers. Show your passion, and you’ll attract passionate, potential employees.

You probably won’t be able to get student contact information from the instructor due to privacy laws. So, after you’ve presented, pass out your card with your contact information to everyone in the class. Invite them to contact you to ask questions about what your company does. Invite them to come to your place of business and learn more. Answer their questions, let them talk to your employees and cultivate the relationship. Stay in touch via a text or email. Find out what they like to do and see if their interests and skill set are a fit for your organization.

Start sending your company newsletter to these contacts, their instructors and their parents. Get your company name out there and let potential candidates and their circle of friends learn more about your company and your employees. If your company is involved with any charity, make sure this is included in your newsletter—show that your company is civically minded. You might even ask for volunteers to help join in on a specific charity initiative. Make sure your newsletter includes job openings and instructions on applying. Your future job candidate who is still in school might have friends who are looking for a job. If they feel they “get” you and your company, they will refer good candidates to you.

But, don’t do this one time and think that’s all you need to do. If you want to have a good potential candidate pool for your entry-level job openings, you need to continuously cultivate and grow your relationships with potential employees. Is there a high school or community college sports team you could help sponsor? That will give you the opportunity to see how these kids interact with each other and learn how they work together and measure their potential cultural fit with your organization.

You might want to start an internship program so potential future employees can learn firsthand what your company does and how it works. See ICP’s How-to-Guide: Establishing Your Company’s Internship Program available on the ICP website Internships are a great way for both you and the student to see if there is a good fit for future employment.

Sound like a lot of work? That’s because it is. But, in this new world of recruiting, it is the best way to get information on potential job candidates and to keep your company name in front of them. And, these young students and their parents will be impressed with your efforts. Every time they drive by, they will remember to mention your company’s name to their neighbors, co-workers, friends, etc. You will exponentially increase your scope of potential future candidates for your organization.

If you think going to all this trouble building a candidate pool is just not worth it, look at what Zappos is doing. Zappos, the online apparel retailer, no longer posts job openings. It has established “Zappos Insiders.” Interested candidates sign up online and learn more about the organization. You can chat with a Zappos Ambassador. You can even pick the area of the company you are most interested in and learn more. There’s even a section with tips about how to get a leg up on other “Insiders.” And, while you are having these conversations with your Zappos Ambassador, the recruiting team is learning about you—what you like, how you communicate, etc. Zappos Insiders learn when there is an opening and how to apply. They may even be contacted directly by the recruiting department. Insiders become their candidate pool. You can do the same thing on the local level, face-to-face.

The world of recruitment is changing and changing rapidly. Labor projections show that the Millennial generation will comprise between 35 percent to 50 percent of the workforce in 2015, and your company is in competition with every other organization in your area for the best and brightest. You need to do all you can to make sure you have interested candidates for your future openings.

Mary JawgielMary Jawgiel is ICP program director for the PTDA Foundation and manages the ICP Job Board at Mary’s life-long passion has been working with young people. Industrial Careers Pathway (ICP) is a cross-industry initiative supported by the American Supply Association (ASA), the Industrial Supply Association's (ISA) Education Foundation, NAHAD: The Association for Hose and Accessories Distribution, NIBA-The Belting Association and the PTDA Foundation For more insights on recruiting, hiring and training Millennials in the distribution industry subscribe to the ICP Talent Tipsheet at

This article originally appeared in the Sept./Oct. 2014 issue of Industrial Supply magazine. Copyright 2014, Direct Business Media.


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