Read Part I of this article series, Back to School: Finding Your Next Recruit in High School or College.
By taking steps to target, educate, and engage younger candidates, electrical distributors can open those candidates’ eyes to job opportunities that they may have overlooked.
Some companies have a knack for attracting younger workers, while others sit back and hope that high school, college, and university students will somehow beat a path to their doors. By taking conscientious steps to target, educate, and engage younger candidates, electrical distributors can open those candidates’ eyes to job opportunities that they may have overlooked (or shied away from due to perception issues).
Here are five ways your company can work with area high schools and colleges to find its next great employee:
- Make a conscientious effort. Don’t just do it sometimes, or take a one-off approach and hope that you get a few candidates out of it. Instead, make a concerted effort to align with community colleges, high schools, vocational schools, and other groups. While handling recruiting for a financial institution, for example, Jen Teague says she took “conscientious steps” to target college students. A hiring and onboarding consultant, Teague says the goal was to educate students on the many opportunities in the financial field. “We went to a popular job fair in the area and explained the different positions and responsibilities needed at the bank,” says Teague. “Most of them were pleasantly surprised to learn that they have a possibility of success in this industry, even if they weren’t majoring in finance or accounting.”
- Focus on educating versus selling. The hard sell doesn’t work with any job candidate in a full-employment job market, and it definitely doesn’t fly with younger workers who are assessing their career opportunities. When Teague attended those job fairs, her strategy at the time was to simply educate. “When you reach out to them, they will remember you and your influence could help determine their futures,” says Teague, who sees internships, summer employment, and part-time work as great ways to transition potential candidates into full-time employees. “This is a much less expensive means to recruiting and benefits both your company and the employees in the long run.”
- Open their eyes to the diverse opportunities. When young people think about distribution, they envision driving a delivery truck. And when they think about manufacturing, they picture themselves standing in an assembly line. These age-old perceptions can be changed by getting out there and talking to high schoolers, middle schoolers, and college students about the diverse range of opportunities (customer service, marketing sales, warehousing, engineering, technical support, etc.) that exist at the typical electrical distributorship. “There so many different functions that go into running a distributorship, and that people outside of the industry don’t even realize,” says Teague. “Take the time to talk to these kids and to open their eyes about the options that exist in your company and/or industry.”
- Highlight your company’s culture and values. Young job candidates want more than just a paycheck; they want to know that they’re going to be contributing to a company that’s focused on more than just the bottom line. So, if you haven’t spit-and-polished your corporate culture and revisited its values in the last few years, now is the time to do it. According to Deloitte, attracting and retaining millennials and Gen Z workers begins with financial rewards and workplace culture. Then, it’s enhanced when businesses and their senior management teams are diverse, and when the workplace offers higher degrees of flexibility. “Those who are less than satisfied with their pay and work flexibility are increasingly attracted to the gig economy,” Deloitte reports, “especially in emerging markets.”
- Make a commitment and stick with it. If partnering with area institutions is on your company’s to-do list, make sure you put the right amount of manpower and elbow grease into the effort, says Cheryl Oldham, senior vice president for the S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Center for Education and Workforce. In other words, don’t expect to attend a job fair, spread the word about your company to a few dozen potential candidates, and have 10 new recruits fill out an online job application the next day. “These efforts take leadership and commitment on both sides (i.e., both at the company and the school/institution levels),” says Oldham. The good news is that schools, community colleges, and other institutions are aligning with their local business communities to help develop viable job candidates for those businesses. “More and more the leaders of high schools, of school districts, and community colleges are much more receptive to partnering with the business community,” says Oldham. “This presents great opportunities for manufacturers and distributors that want to make those connections.”