One of the biggest decisions we must make as leaders is whom we bring on the team. Successfully recruiting the next generation — such as members of Commercial Integrator’s 40 Influencers Under 40 — into our industry requires an understanding of their attributes, empathy for their values, and a new way that engages their interests and preferences.
A great industry example is the NSCA Education Foundation, which continue to lead and partner with its members to accelerate recruitment strategies by attracting the next generation to our industry. As the new president of the NSCA Education Foundation Board of Directors, I am elated to help our industry look beyond traditional recruiting methods and tap into a potential abundance of talent within schools, colleges, STEM programs and more.
Younger Career Starters
Many younger career starters have fewer than three years of professional experience, and they’re seeking the next step for professional growth. This includes students who are about to graduate from high school or college, as well as those from many other avenues. Many employers inadvertently overlook this group, listing job requirements that specify five to seven (or more) years of experience. This typically eliminates career starters who can be trained, developed and grown into those positions.
Specific focus on engaging students early and often is recommended, including supporting their education journey without focusing on any specific job opening. This creates brand awareness, and it builds relationships that will keep your candidate funnel filled with people who are eager to learn.
These younger generations are spending less time and money on higher education, preferring instead to demonstrate their independence by entering the workforce directly. Many tend to thrive when given autonomy, controlling their own projects and receiving direct accolades for their work.
So, how do we get their attention?
Organizations will benefit from embracing technology as they try to attract the next generation of employees. This includes emphasizing social media as a recruiting tool, utilizing trade-association programs (e.g., the NSCA Ignite initiative) and posting to external job boards — not only to typical career sites. Start thinking outside the norm and using TikTok, Instagram and Twitter to engage with the younger generation.
You will want to stand out from the crowd and showcase your culture from within. Company culture does so much to attract top talent, retain great employees and ensure people are always performing at their best.
Now that you have a large funnel of candidates, what’s next?
Professional Development and Growth
Opportunities for professional development and growth are next. One commonality among the next generation is a desire to learn new things and acquire skills. I am a huge fan of promoting that we, as individuals, should always be focused on learning and getting 1% better every day. Providing on-the-job training and significant learning opportunities can be great ways to attract and keep that next generation of leaders within your organization.
The next generation has grown up in a time of constant change. This unpredictable environment has taught them how to adapt easily. That’s why younger people aren’t afraid to change jobs if they see limited growth opportunities. Often, this thinking is mistaken for impermanence. On the contrary, today’s young workers are energetic, outspoken and passionate about what they do.
Our greatest asset is our people. However, their value is always determined by the time and energy that we invest in them. NSCA has a new program called Next-Gen Academy, and it’s focused on identifying the next wave of leadership who will guide their organizations. The first academy is during NSCA’s 2022 Pivot to Profit conference, September 19 to 21 in Chicago.
Statistics show that, in the next 10 years, one in five Baby Boomers will retire. By 2025, Generation Z is expected to make up roughly 27% of the global workforce. Those leaders will need to be replaced with the next generation. Have you set up your internal workforce to close those skill gaps?
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the book Drive, by Daniel Pink: “Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.”
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