Out of office and online
After Jillian completed her master’s at Northeastern she knew she wanted to stay in Boston. A participant in the university’s work-study co-op program between the university and local companies, she had three internships under her belt and a local network. Her outlook was good.
Then the application process started. Frustrated by impersonal online job postings, Jillian wanted to walk down the street and submit her applications in person. “I feel like I’m putting my résumé through a slit in a giant wall and waiting for someone to open the window to let me in,” she said.
When Jillian was “let in,” she found interviews fake. “It’s like being in a fish bowl,” she says. Her one positive interview experience was for a marketing position with lululemon, a successful athletic apparel brand. “We went to the park and sat Indian style in the grass. It was much easier to speak freely.” This experience set lululemon apart, and it became Jillian’s top choice for employment.
How might companies make the hiring experience a better reflection of the work experience? How might employers set up their applications and interviews to help Millennials reveal more about who they are?
Beyond the résumé
Nearing the end of college, Jeff and Tony noticed an unsettling trend: their friends, even the most talented of them, were struggling to find their way into the working world. For Jeff and Tony, the question wasn’t, “What’s wrong with our friends?” Rather, it was, “What’s wrong with this process?”
It didn’t take long to uncover the problem: a generation of super-communicators, masters of digital media, confined to a black-and-white one-pager to show what they have to offer. This disconnect is what Jeff and Tony hope to rectify through KODA.us, the “opportunity community” they launched early in 2009.
KODA’s rich profiles create context for the types of information that define and attract the “emerging workforce”: life experience, work environment, and opportunities for growth. The philosophy behind the service is that the more real information available, the more likely employers and applicants
are going to find a good fit — a win-win situation.
How might companies facilitate transparency across hiring (ongoing orientation) and reviews? How might employers encourage proactive self-disclosure to set more accurate expectations?
“I don’t understand benefits, but I’m curious: What do you offer in terms of training and development?” said Natasha, a 23-year-old top candidate. The first time he heard this question, Greg, a recruiter at The Gap, found himself wishing he had a better response.
Recently, Gap has adopted forward-looking and flexible practices to address concerns of Millennials. According to Greg, “It’s not only about Millennials, but they are the driving force.” One notable accommodation is that the company now offers flextime. “In addition to a more flexible schedule, flextime allows employees to be better to the environment by working from home and to volunteer during work hours.”
Natasha’s next query stumped Greg: “Do you offer iPod training?” He hadn’t heard of such a thing, but learned that it’s a way for employees to take courses on their own schedule. “It’s all part of ensuring work/life balance,” he explained. “Practices and norms just haven’t caught up to workers’ expectations.”
How might companies create a menu of benefits allowing employees to select what matters most to them? How might companies create flexible and continuous opportunities to learn?
IDEO-employee Joe logs into Facebook and what does he see? A highly targeted ad from a guy named Eric: I want to work at IDEO. After virtually interviewing the company and self-selecting himself for the job, Eric found a unique channel through which to apply. While reactions ranged from “clever” to “creepy,” it’s hard to deny that Eric and other Millennials are changing the rules of the job search.
For Millennials, a referral from a friend is more than a way to get one’s résumé to the top of the pile. “My impression of a company comes from my friends and their experience,” says Ben, a recent Harvard grad. “They know me, they know the company, and they can tell if I’d be a good fit.”
The free MBA
In December 2008, bestselling business author Seth Godin, announced in a blog post that he would be offering an “audacious” 6-month alternative MBA — for free. He said, “I’m convinced there are people out there who — given the right teaching, encouragement, and opportunity — can change the world.” The post struck a major cord, attracting 48,000 views and 340 applications for a total of 9 spots.