Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Recruiting college graduates

Spent five hours today at UGA's Recruitment Retreat, which brings together employers, faculty, students and career center staff to discuss the recruitment process. Although finding jobs for students isn't strictly part of my job description, in reality faculty do get involved by serving as references, helping students prepare application materials and portfolios, and passing along information about job openings (in my case, it's usually former students looking for new hires).

The retreat was geared toward helping the recruiters do their jobs, but I picked up some valuable information in a session run by a Monster.com employee, Julie (whose last name escaped me). She provided some stats on the U.S. and Atlanta job markets, indicating that the markets continue to improve and that the Internet is increasingly important in the process.

What interested me most was her summary about Gen-Y employees. She talked about their high expectations, need for almost constant feedback, desire for instant gratification, and wish to balance work and home life. She also mentioned their lives have been "programmed" since toddlerhood, and that parents were and remain very active in their lives.

The break-out discussions that followed confirmed these characteristics. For example, the students said they expect to be kept informed throughout the recruitment process. They recognized that this does not always happen, but it is what they would like to see. Faculty mentioned that students are most disappointed in internships where they don't actually get to do anything--thus failing to meet those high expectations. Career center staff talked about parents who call to make appointments for their children (don't worry, the staff make the kids call back and make their own appointments). Recruiters talked about employees who are on the job for six months, conclude they've "mastered" that job, and ask to try something else.

I think there is some merit to this list of characteristics, although of course they are generalizations and not applicable to everyone all the time. But I also think they mask another characteristic: insecurity. Maybe it's caused by (over)involved parents, or the fact that the students have been involved in programmed activities all their lives-- in fact, some mentioned this in my PR Campaigns blog ("it's the first time we won't have parents and teachers to tell us what to do" kind of thing)--but it seems to me that there's worry and even fear mixed in with the excitement of taking that first job.

Maybe that's not a generational characteristic, but it's something employers should be aware of when they're rolling their eyes at the latest demands made by what seem to be high maintenance young employees.

This post gave me something to think about. For the past couple of years, I completely, 100% agreed with Lauren Vargas' comment on your last post that our generation is lazy and less driven. I spent the past 24 hours considering a couple different considerations on my generation. While I do think many students are lazy and less driven, I also completely agree with your take on insecurity.
Many people in my generation have grown up with their parents at their side, nary a worry nor responsibility. Some parents (mine sometimes included) don't trust their children to make the right decisions- or even to make the wrong ones and then learn from them.
Maybe our generation just needs a chance to live their own lives, sans judgement, with a little encouragement, motivation and personal internal security.
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