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All across America this past week, we saw the last rounds of High School Graduation ceremonies. First thought; why is school ending so much later and starting so much sooner? I almost feel sorry for these kids. Second thought; how do I attract the best and brightest of the class of 2018 to work for me? If you haven’t already given thought to how to attract employees, you should right away.  There is a massive stream of freshly graduated high school students entering adulthood, and with that right of passage comes an inherently tethered need – the need for a JOB. Looking at the facts, the majority of the best and brightest will have a brief summer break and immediately enroll in secondary education.  According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 69.2% of these students will enroll in Fall 2018 college classes. The other 30.8% will enter the labor force. While these kids might not be the best and brightest for bookworm or back-office work, many of them make GREAT salesmen or technicians. Indeed, we hired many non-college students for both sales and techs.  

GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT

College or no college, the Class of 2018 wants to work at ‘GOOGLE.’  Google meaning the hip, fun place with perks. A job to brag about and flaunt on your social media pages. The beauty of Millennials is if you can give them a small dose of GOOGLE, they’ll latch on fast and hard.  The best and brightest going to college do so with the idea that it guarantees them to come out the other end with a degree and credentials to land such a job. This same ‘Google’ desire exists in the non-college bound as well, with the bonus that they realize it’s less likely to happen for them, so the payoff for landing such a gig is extra effective!   

GET OUT OF THEM WHAT YOU WANT

I hear it all the time, that the most important thing to look for in these kids is work ethic, but ‘Millennials don’t have work ethic.’  True, work ethic is getting harder and harder to find, but it’s still out there. It just manifests a bit differently today. I propose an alternate strategy.  In the absence of outright work ethic, look for a desire to belong. The sad truth is we are a society that gets lazier and lazier all the time. Instant gratification and constant stimulation have taken its toll on the ‘traditional work ethic’.  Matter of fact, just mentioning that word to a Millennial typically glosses over eyes and does nothing other than get you lumped into the ‘old boring adult’ category in their minds. It’s an uphill battle working your way out of that stigma. Here’s the secret to explaining work ethic to your new hire, without using the dirty word that it is: call it family.  While people are lazier than ever and our standard of living is so soft it allows for that lack of work ethic, it has had the reverse effect on the need to belong. People, Millennials in particular, are more attached – dare I say ADDICTED – to a sense of belonging than ever before. This is a byproduct of the advent of Social Media.

You can frame your company’s motto and purpose in a hashtag to connect with Millennials and create a sense of belonging all the while implanting a work ethic, try this:  #WORKHARDPLAYHARD

College or No College, when you’re recruiting it’s important to understand two things about Millennials: Money is what brings ‘em through the door.  Culture is what gets ‘em to stay.

MONEY

A bit of background here.  I like many of these kids, was once a college freshman eating Ramen daily, working for minimum wage at the campus print shop.  When a buddy of mine got hired to sell Security systems door to door and told me he made $200 a sale, I immediately saw dollar signs.  More than that I saw how I was gonna be spending those dollars on a date with the DIME PIECE that had been ignoring me on campus. Long story short, after some quick calculations on time to money ratio and my first sale I was done with hourly work for the rest of my life.  That right there is enough to recruit your next winner. Show these kids a better way and they’ll gladly work for you. Consider the work options available to your typical college student. $9-$10 per hour flipping burgers. If you can show a hungry college kid how he can make as much money selling door to door in 2 days, what he will make in 2 weeks at the campus coffee shop.  Not only will he beat a path to your door, but he’ll be grateful for the experience and most often, he will come back for more – usually with his friends. Just remember, this is the Class of 2018 – they’re Social Media driven, and not necessities driven. You want to attract the broke student needing a summer job to earn money for Ramen and the occasional date night? The key is to pitch him on date night with the dime piece, and not the Ramen.  

CULTURE

Get ‘em to stay, and get ‘em to bring their friends.  Build a culture within your company. How do you communicate and manage Millennials?  Give them the Google experience and a job worthy of a SnapChat/Instagram post. Great news about creating a Google experience: you can do it without spending Google-level dough. I spent many summers in 100 plus degree sweltering heat knocking doors and hating every minute of it much of the time.  It was hard work. But we played hard as well, and all my friends were doing it, so I stuck it through even when I didn’t want to. Some ideas for playing hard which will simultaneously build your culture and your sense of belonging – SWAG, BBQs, sporting events, and a hangout space.

Swag – Uniforms are necessary, but boring and restrictive.  Establish a perks system based on sales, installs or some other work centered metric for a cool hat or jacket.  But be sure to call it SWAG. Uniforms in the eyes of Millennials are what ‘basic’ people wear. Swag will get you Instagram shares.
 
BBQs – We used to have Sunday team BBQs at a local park, lake, or swimming pool.  For a couple hundred bucks we would routinely feed 30-40 people wives and kids included, and I say that single-handedly built more culture than anything else we ever did.  Humans bond around food. Plain and simple. If you can’t BBQ yourself, cater. Do at least one or two of these free for your employees per month. If you want to do something pricier, tie a team production goal to it.  I never understood it, but some people will push harder for a team bonus than they ever will for an individual bonus. This just goes to show you that there is a real power of culture and group belonging.

Sporting events – Take the team out to the ballpark twice a summer.  The weirdest thing about Millennials and sports events: half of them don’t know a lick about what or who they are watching, but love to go simply for the photo opportunity it gives them to post on their Snapchat Storyline.

Hangout space – This is where you can get Google-ly for cheap.  Throw a sofa or some bean bags in the training room, or an unused room with an X-Box, Ping pong table or Foosball.  Have a pizza party on a Saturday, pay for the UFC fight and let employees come partake for free. Not only will this give you tons in return on culture, but your employees will boast about simple perks like these to their friends, which will open up new recruiting opportunities for you.  Also, it’s an excuse to buy that man cave. Obviously, these things have a dollar amount attached to them, but trust me, the extra cost is marginal for the returns in attitude and work ethic you’ll experience. You’ll be the cool place to work at in town, and that is more important to the Millennial than the paycheck in many cases.

AN IMPORTANT WORD ON MILLENNIAL CHURN

Churn has always happened, it’s not a Millennial thing – it’s cycles just happen more often now.  40-year tenures with one company are a thing of the past, as much from an employer standpoint as well as an employee standpoint.  Tech also plays a big part in employee churn. The best way to deal with churn it simply to prep for it. Hire more, hire often. Most importantly, understand that all recruiting will have its pains and its winners and its losers.  Set yourself the expectation for a good bit of dross churn, because if you can make it through that to find and refine the precious golden bars out there, you’ll be stunned at how the good employees come in bunches and tend to stay in bunches. Create a good culture, and your employees will help you recruit and spread that culture.

THE LAST MOST SELF-EXPLANATORY PIECE OF ADVICE ON HIRING THE CLASS OF 2018:

Ready or not, you’d better start recruiting now, cause if you wait, your competitors (and in hiring, ALL businesses and industries are your competitors) YOU will be last in the Class of 2018!