I love Southwest Airlines; therefore I have a Southwest Visa and avidly watch my points tally up. I have convinced myself my internal energy tank is low without Starbucks in the morning and I have to use my mobile application to pay or else it doesn’t feel right. I own more t-shirts than a sorority sister in her 6th year of undergrad because I elect to represent my teams in Homage gear. And when I receive a Nordstrom Note in the mail it’s as if I was just accepted to my dream college… Every time.
Your employment brand is directly connected to your consumer brand. However, instead of using this vision to sell more plane tickets, you’re using this vision to ensure you have talented folks flying the planes, serving the drinks, checking the bags, and changing travel plans for those who bought that plane ticket.
Recruiters have been “selling” companies to potential candidates for decades. Employment branding at its core is not new. Showing candidates why they should work at your company is not a new concept. But how you show candidates is changing. Estela Vasquez Perez mentioned three steps to having a successful employment brand:
(1) Emotional – Connect with your people and potential people.
(2) Rational – Connect corporate vision with your people and potential people.
(3) Experiential – Deliver on the employment brand promise you made (nobody likes liars).
Who does this really well? Or at least is on the right track to do this very well? I saw multiple videos at the conference, showing off speaker companies and what it’s like to work there. One stood out and that was Hewlett-Packard. Yes, HP, the company that has been knocked by many not only for the jet-lagged innovation to Apple in recent years but their revenue numbers have not shown promise either. However, with new CEO Meg Whitman they’ve reassessed their employment brand. HP pulls you in with understanding its history then rationalizes it by showing their inventions of then, now, and the future. And as for the experience part… Guess you’ll have to work there and see if it lives up to expectation.
The job search landscape is competitive. Technology is either crippling your company if you can’t catch-up or lifting your company if you embrace and deliver on it. There is going to be a shortage of talent. High-potentials are going to leave your company. Millennials are knocking on your door. If employment branding wasn’t important before, it certainly is now. It’s no secret these kids are showing up in droves. And guess what?… WE LOVE BRANDS.
We are brand junkies. Don Draper said these famous words on AMC’s Mad Men, “Advertising is happiness.” When you read, listen, or watch an ad, its purpose is to generate happiness leading to a transaction. When you think of a brand, what you remember is how that brand made you feel. I’m only going to say, “Yes,” over and over again to a brand that gets it.
You want the people who come to work for your company to be brand junkies. Make them happy. Get them hooked. Show people what it’s like to work at ___________. Next thing you know they’ll be waving your flag through the streets.
As millennials we’re not only green (aka young, inexperienced, naiive… you get it) when it comes to skill sets needed in a job but the real issue is we’re green to full-time work in general. This creates a perfect storm for 20-somethings and we simply just don’t know what we don’t know.
I currently serve on the board of the Human Resources Association of Central Ohio (HRACO) as the VP of Student Services. My responsibilities include the organization and execution of our mentoring program for college students. Last week I was preparing to speak to students about joining HRACO and I began to think about why GenY might balk at the thought of mentorship.
Misconception #1: Making a decision might be worse than Chipotle running out of steak right before they close and it gives me anxiety.
When individuals say you need to find a mentor, it’s singular. As a 24 year-old millennial, how am I supposed to pick just one mentor? What if I pick the wrong one? What if I don’t think I have the time? What if someone recommends me the wrong person? What if I want two or three mentors? The idea of choosing “My Mentor” is daunting and therefore I refuse to even look into it because of the “what ifs.”
Truth: Getting out of your comfort zone is the best thing you can do. Decisions really aren’t that bad. You can have one or more mentors and if it’s not an “epic” experience, that’s ok. If you pick up just one nugget of information it’s an experience that is moving your forward.
Misconception #2: I’m young, wild, and free like the retro 2011 song says. I have plenty of time.
Three months ago I had my two-year anniversary at work and if you do the math, with a retirement age of 65, I have 41 years left in my career. 41 years? I’ll get a mentor when I’m 30. I can wait.
Truth: So my question would be what happens when you’re 30? Is that when your career jumpstarts? It might be. But, be content with knowing others started at 22 and you’re now 8 years behind. #sorryimnotsorry
Misconception #3: “Older” folks know nothing about technology and that’s what runs the world, please tell me what I can learn from them.
I have a co-worker who has asked me multiple times to help show him how to forward text messages. I tie both hands behind my back, close my eyes, rap “Ice Ice Baby,” hop on one foot and forward the text at the same time, thinking to myself… “For real?” I guess by definition he could be a mentor but he can’t even use his own phone. On to the next one.
Truth: Don’t hate me for this… but you can only learn so much from YouTube. For example, ask YouTube how to merge a PDF. Do not ask YouTube if it can put you in touch with the VP of HR at your dream company. Whether or not a mentor has the latest app has about as much bearing on his/her ability to teach you rapport-building skills, how to build your network, or organizing/prioritizing tasks as the players on a Cleveland roster have on winning a championship. None.
Misconception #4: When I step off the stage at graduation, nothing can stop me from taking over the world.
When I graduated, there was nothing I “couldn’t” do. My parents let me believe if you work hard enough you can get anywhere you want to go. Why would I ask for help? That’s admitting I can’t do it alone and that does not fall in line with my narcissistic ways.
Truth: You’re creating a new marketing plan, you have a meeting to present it to your supervisor tomorrow, and you do it all by your lonesome. All you have as a reference are the three marketing classes you took in college, where you were on Twitter 87% of the lecture and the other 13% of the time you looked up occasionally to make sure the professor was really only using the PowerPoint. In which case you need not pay attention at all, just tally up another “I showed up” in the attendance books and save the studying for the night before your test when you print the PowerPoint and take a quick read-through. How much about marketing do you REALLY know? Maybe someone who’s done this before could give you some tips? Just a thought.
Whether or not you formally call someone a “mentor” is not the issue. What is important is that we seize opportunities to learn from those with experience. It could be a formal program, a meeting with your professor, or lunch with a co-worker.
I’m not trying to crush dreams. Please feel free to be successful. Just know you might need a few others along the way.
Self-made dancers and videographers are swarming the Internet. What’s the next big movement? Well, we won’t know what the next “big thing” in YouTube dance sensations will be until another artist unleashes their genius on the world again. But, whether it’s a teen looking to break into the market diluted with young stars already or a DJ spinning a beat – the world has gone crazy for dance.
Exhibit 1: “Call Me Maybe”
Because I have a personal bias toward “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen, I turned to social media to gather some data regarding how people currently feel about the song when it comes on the radio, do you leave it on or change the station?
- 41% said change the station
- 59% said leave it on
While it wasn’t an overwhelming majority, the majority agreed with me – leave it on. And if you’re me, you turn it up and create your own music video while driving home from the office. It’s catchy and had the whole world hooked on Carly Rae for the summer of 2012.
Abercrombie & Fitch featured the song to promote their global stores and WOW their target audience. Even the London Olympics caught Carly Rae Fever with the US swim team and many others putting their own dance remix to the track.
What is the business impact you ask? “Call Me Maybe” opened the door and offered an inside look, even if just for 3 minutes, into the personalities and “off the clock” antics of some of the most focused, decorated athletes and mega corporations in the world. Their “Call Me Maybe” videos made them real people. People you could identify with.
Social Media allows you and your corporation to be real. Someone and something you can touch. Or at least believe that you can.
Exhibit 2: “Harlem Shake”
As I have previously written blogs about my distaste for LeBron James, the Miami Heat had me thinking after I viewed their Harlem Shake video. These athletes are put on a pedestal of greatness and fame. Through this short video clip, they let the world see they are regular guys who like to have fun just like you and can get caught up in a social craze just the same.
In my opinion, this was the first time LeBron was “real” to me. It made him human and is a pure example of how social media has increased the visibility of those once thought of as unreachable.
Business Take Away:
First things first, you don’t have to go create a YouTube video and please don’t think that is the point of this blog. We are not all equipped with the time and budget to create impressive, creative music videos. However, I do think it is common practice to be present on social media outlets for companies and executives.
Being present on social media is one thing but being real and relatable is another. You want to identify with your peers, customers, colleagues, and overall network. Be yourself and be personal.
Products and services are a dime a dozen.
Social Media is a tool to help build your identity and make your company accessible. People want to surround themselves with not only intelligent business associates but, business associates they like. Keep that in mind.
It’s difficult to sit here and cite specific examples of “what I learned in college” and how it relates to the real world. To be quite frank, I was one of those kids that smashed all of the information in my brain for that test and that semester then off it went into the stratosphere. If there was anything that stuck, it was purely by choice and a slight Christmas miracle. In my consumer behavior class, an elective I took primarily due to my liking for the professor and the distaste for anything requiring addition or subtraction, I learned something I still remember today. We read a book called Predictably Irrational and if anything can top Freakonomics, which is difficult, it’s this book written by Dan Ariely.
In chapter 2, The Fallacy of Supply and Demand, Ariely addresses Starbucks v. Dunkin’ Donuts and all other “wannabes.” The brilliance behind the Starbucks brand is they have found a way to divert their customer’s brains to everything other than price. As noted by Ariely it’s the ambiance – the way you order, the food offerings, the décor. It’s unique and up scale. Why wouldn’t you pay $4 for the coffee? Buying a coffee at Starbucks is an experience not a daily chore. When in all reality, I have an entry level job and if I bought a $4 coffee each weekday for an entire year (which I do not, I try to be reasonable now and then) it would cost me just over $1000. I’m predictably irrational, I could use that $1000 on something other than coffee clearly… yet, I choose to buy over-priced, you guessed it… coffee.
Now let’s get down to the real reason I wanted to discuss my coffee buying habits or obsession rather, the coming of the Starbucks Reward card. Enter big data. Take any gift card you bought for yourself at Giant Eagle to earn fuel perks or that you received from your gracious friends who know it will go to use immediately, and register it online.
I naturally have done so, electing to offer my personal information to the twenty-fifth website and creating another username and password… for what? Starbucks Rewards, that’s what. Some perks include free refills on brewed coffee, a free coffee on your birthday, free music downloads, and “other promotions.” Let’s just say the other promotions don’t come around too often.
However, with your Starbucks Rewards card you can now download the Starbucks Application on your smart phone, manage your account online, pay with your phone and ditch the plastic card. In summary, I get a free coffee on my birthday (yes, once per year), free refills on brewed coffee (I don’t order their brewed coffee), download music (if it’s popular music they probably aren’t handing it out for free) and a free promotion now and then (that usually requires you to buy something first then get money back – spending money you otherwise wouldn’t).
And yet, here I am at 7:10am lining up and getting my coffee. I am fully aware that Starbucks is conning me into thinking I am so great for belonging to their club and sitting on the edge of my seat until I reach the Gold Card status and the best part is? It really doesn’t bother me at all. I’m going to have my Gold Card, pay with it on my iPhone, smile, and walk away content. Buying my $4 coffee is interactive and flat out cool.
I’m a predictably irrational millennial, armed with caffeine and an iPhone ready to take on the day.
What irrational purchases have you made?
Innocently thumbing through my Twitter feed after lunch, I came across a Tweet with a link to the HuffPost Live webcast on the topic of “The Millennial Vote.” As a Millennial (and self-endorsed politically educated young person) I was intrigued. Each person in attendance was given the opportunity to discuss the candidates and issues up for debate in the 2012 election and there was one resonating topic – JOBS.
As stated by Pete Dominick, Sirius XM Talk Show Host and CNN contributor, “Millennials do not use the word economy but, rather jobs.” While I do think Millennials should learn more about the economy and how it affects job opportunity – let’s focus on jobs specifically.
On Tuesday, November 6th 2012 Millennials who are registered to vote, which is down 11% from 2008 as noted in the webcast, will enter the voting booth and elect the individual they believe
to be in their best interest to find them a job. I thoroughly support voting and do believe it to be our civil duty to do so, however, simply voting for the candidate who can make the strongest promises about employment is an inherently flawed idea. Again, please vote but that is only a battle in the unemployment and underemployment war. Millennials need not only show up at the polls but also need to educate themselves on how to find the right job and take control of their job search. It’s the “how” I’m concerned about.
The wrong answer is to the “how” is settle for statistics like “11.8 percent of young Americans are now unemployed through no fault of their own and more still are falling out of the workforce due to a historic lack of opportunity” and statements like, “Young Americans know this is not fair, and they are asking why the White House continues to push policies that are moving them backward.” Now I know HR, Gen X, and Baby Boomers will rejoice at the next statement I make as they try to work with these “entitled young kids.”
This election year rather than depending on Washington to come through and being satisfied with answers such as “it’s not our fault” and “it’s not fair,” become an educated job seeker. Impact your own career.
If you’re a 20 something here are 5 ways to impact your own career:
Leverage your current network
You’re a marketing major. Are you sure your Mom’s best friend isn’t a Brand Manager at P&G? Are you sure your Dad doesn’t work for a bank with an open entry-level marketing role? Are you sure the professor you loathed, didn’t used to work at one of the largest steel manufactures? Are you sure your sister’s childhood friend’s dad isn’t the CEO of a small business? Ask the question of anyone you know. Why not?
Your first job may not be your dream job
No job description calls for 0 years of experience. Understanding you need experience to get experience – 2-5 years experience spent not working at Google or Nike? Is ok. Working for a local tech firm or retail sneaker store will give you a real resume to talk about with Larry Page or Tinker Hatfield.
Be a honey badger
Make job searching your job. Be active on Indeed and other job posting sites. Are you sure you’ve applied to EVERY single job there is? I doubt it. Oh, you’re caught in a black whole resume vacuum? Call the recruiter, over and over. Call the Vice President, over and over. Call the CEO, over and over.
Is your LinkedIn profile attractive to recruiters? Know the title of jobs you’re looking for. All of them. Don’t know? Send a LinkedIn message to someone who does what you want to do. You’ d be surprised how many people will reach out. Research the top companies who do what you want to do. If it’s HR? Surprise, every company in every industry needs HR. Take your pick.
Follow, Like, Mention, Retweet, Blog, Comment, E-Mail, Regram – find where your companies are talking and engage them. Companies are spending time and money figuring out this digital age and engaging candidates just like you. Locate them and they’ll most certainly oblige to respond. Millennials – I look forward to seeing you out at the polls and I also look forward to a re-energized group of young people who are educated, relentless job seekers.
Guest Blog by: Brian Haney
What do you want to be when you grow up? Everyone has been asked this question at some point in their life. Do we really know the answer? For me it was to become a Major League baseball player with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now that they’re actually playing well these days, I figure that I would have been in the prime of my career making a push for that full count, 2 out, bases loaded, base hit to win the World Series. We can all dream right? Needless to say that dream didn’t come true.
Today, I’m now a recruiter for a $2 Billion company and their successful advertising agencies throughout the United States. How many young kids say “I want to grow up to be a recruiter”? I’m willing to bet a large amount of money that ZERO kids or even adults would have these professional dreams. On a daily basis, I’m talking to all different types of people, from a variety of backgrounds and locations throughout this country. My job is to help sell the “dream” of the company and the job itself in order to secure and retain talented individuals within the family of advertising agencies. Throughout the initial phone interviews with these candidates, it is my job to find out what their dream is when they grow up. What do they want to accomplish? What motivates them to be successful? It’s basically the same question that they were asked as a child, only now, their responses are much different than a six year old that says “I want to be an astronaut”, “I want to be a firefighter” or “I want to be the President of the United States of America.”
They talk about their ideal job they would like to have but rarely is there any passion behind it like the six year old that truly believes he or she will be an astronaut. Do they even like doing their current job? Are they upset that their original plans didn’t work out? It is my job to step in and describe how the new position is right for them at this point in their career. It is also my job to explain to them if the position is not the correct job for them. As much as I want to fill my job openings as quickly as possible, I have the duty of finding the correct fit for the employers. It is equally important to have both sides satisfied because if that isn’t the case then we’ve wasted quite a bit of time, money, energy and it’s back to square one to find another candidate.
Being a recruiter now, I enjoy the ability to help assist people in their professional careers knowing that I’m helping them reach some of their lifelong dreams, even if they change a few times. Hopefully the Pirates continue their winning ways this season and all of our dreams will come true…sort of.
Major, schmajor. To be quite honest, you will most likely end up in a position not directly related to your field of study unless you’re in law, medicine, or engineering. Even some of those individuals end up on a different path at some point. As art history majors and sociology majors continue to graduate, the thought is, where do I go from here?
As is with any graduate, this questions pops up. Marketing, however, now that’s useful. Right? Well, it’s only useful if you know what you want to do with it. For right now, marketing is what I know – working with advertising agencies as well as client side brand teams, so that’s what we’re going to go with. Not to mention, I’m a dual marketing and management major who ended up in recruiting… but, we’ll save that conversation for later.
Anyhow, I think the place to start is understanding what jobs are out there. First things first, marketing is NOT sales. Your classrooms may lump these two together but, it is not the case. Know the field. Second, know what job titles to look for – you can do this by asking those at your university career center, go on LinkedIn and search the employees of companies you want to work for, or call HR and ask them what you should look for. The key is to investigate. Are you a marketer that can design or are you a marketer that can talk the talk?
Titles to look for – Marketing Coordinator, Account Coordinator, Traffic Coordinator, Associate Product Manager, Associate Brand Manager. If you’re a designer or writer for advertising – Art Director or Copywriter. These will get you in the door and get you on the right track. Know what you’re going after and what those in the industry call their jobs. This will make your search much more targeted.
You might not end up in the exact field of interest but, it’s a way to narrow the scope and make the job search… less overwhelming. Questions about where you should be looking? Comment and let me know your interests.