We had a chat with Lisa Smith, an expert on Millennials and Gen Z in Ireland. For the past 3 years, she’s been traveling around colleges in Ireland and talking to students about what to expect from their future jobs and how to present themselves. She also works with companies, helping them to become Millennial-friendly.
Millennials are the largest generation in today’s workforce, with over 50% today and expected to be over 75% by 2025. We talked about the issues companies face because of the wrong approach to these generations and what should they improve in order to stop losing the wrong people, and keep the top talents.
1. Lisa, why did you decide to work with these generations?
I was one of the first Millennials in the workforce of my previous company and I had to leave because of the lack of communication with the other generations. ”Millennials don’t leave companies they leave their managers”. The thing is, as Millennials, we want to be developed, trained and understood. And because of that negative experience, I decided I wanted to become the voice of Millennials and help them find the right jobs and develop the right training programs. These should enable companies to spot top talent and help them develop it even further.
2. What does it mean ‘’a Millennial-friendly company’’?
It means that the company has the right environment for Millennial workers. One where they feel appreciated and have an opportunity to grow as both professionals and individuals. This requires having the right set of values, onboarding processes, training programs and technologies they work with.
My prediction is that if companies don’t accept and adapt to this change in generations coming to their workforce, they’ll have a big problem. Over 72% of Millennials are disengaged in their workforce. You know, 5 years ago, it was OK to say that your culture or values are X, Y, and Z. But nowadays, it’s important to really believe in them and create the right ones.
3. Is the number of Millennial-friendly companies increasing in Ireland?
Yes, most of the companies already understand that their culture needs to resonate with Millennials. We are seeing 2017 as the year companies are making that transition. With unemployment at its lowest, companies need to retain their talent pool. It’s been extremely positive and surprisingly even Millennial-driven Startups are investing early. They understand the importance of culture and investing in their people.
4. You’re an expert for both Millennials and Gen Z. What’s the main difference between them?
Millennials think about fulfillment. Success will come but fulfillment is a priority. And a lot of them would have a job hopper experience. They see no problem with moving from job to job, seeking a better salary and development.
But Gen Z are very focused on their career before they even get to college. They are really making these decisions thinking about what they want to become. The process of choosing a college to go to is from a long term point of view for them. Millennials are just thinking about ‘’where am I applying so I have a degree?’’
5. Do recruiters need to change their way of working with Millennials and Gen Z too?
Yes, we need people trained in recruitment to ask questions which will help uncover the underlying personas and to get the right information out of Millennials and Gen Z. I believe that recruitment can really benefit from these changes most, as they deal with Millennials and Gen Z under a stressful circumstance. Because most recruiters prefer the ‘’boring’’ format, it makes job seekers feel that showing off their personality isn’t relevant for a CV. They find it very hard to start, or even complete a CV. This often results in unhappy employees who don’t fit in a company’s culture. That needs to be changed.
6. What do you think is the main problem of CVs?
There are too many templates out there and too many people think that 7 pages is the right format for a CV. Nowadays we regularly see recruiters complaining about the type of CV’s they receive. It’s a daunting task to put your life out there on a few pages and hope someone likes it. Also, I’d advise that people write on their CV where they’re heading in their career and what’s important to them. Then the recruiter or a hiring manager can look and think what company will they fit in the best.
When I start to talk to somebody, I don’t even look at their CV. Why? Because I don’t believe in that form, it’s just too standard. I think the whole template is strange. I get a whole lot more of information out of a person if I have a chit-chat with them.
7. Do you think personality revealing sections Enhancv offers (My Time, Most Proud Of, Books) are Millennial and Gen Z friendly?
Yes, for these generations, it is a must. What you could uncover about someone from these is more than you can uncover from their experience. The reason behind it is that Millennials want to write about themselves as ‘’people’’. There are moments in their lives that they remember, and you gotta find out why do they remember that. Why was that important to them? Also, they are motivated to share what they do on a day-to-day basis. Because that shows the commitment of the individual. If there is a sport you love, music you love, you should share all that. Let the hiring manager have the right judgment of you when they’re looking at your CV.
I think what Enhancv’s doing is really great. These generations do appreciate that on the website there are questions they’re being asked and there’s assistance throughout the process. It many times helps them realize their talent. It’s giving the feeling of ‘’somebody else is trying to figure me out and get the best out of my skills’’ that I believe is the way forward. And equally, my job is to help the employers to see this in a CV. It’s a full circle.
8. What is the number one mistake companies make when writing a job spec?
It is misleading, most of the time. They describe the job in a way that sounds compelling, but what the person starts working there they are like ‘’I didn’t realize I was gonna be doing this’’. And that’s why they leave fast. There’s too much fluff in the air. And that’s just not good enough for the Millennial.
9. If you went back to your 18-year-old self, how would you advise yourself to showcase your talent on a CV?
If I was 18 in today’s world, I’d definitely look at the company I’d like to work for before crafting my CV. I’d think carefully about what is important to me, rather than them. Also, I’d rely on my friends and connection. I’d choose a template for my CV that would make people want to read it. Not a boring one that when you see it you don’t even want to start reading.
10. What makes you wake up in the morning?
Every day I get many emails from people thanking me or progressing the way they should. Invest in your people and they will commit the world back to you. My job is anything but boring! 🙂
For more advice on career, business and Millennials, visit Lisa’s blog.