Are You Building a Team? Consider These 6 Hiring Lessons Learned The Hard Way.

Umut Onan
Umut Onan
Sep 12 · 5 min read

The last 15 years, I have built more than a dozen teams with diverse skills, cultures, and ages. Gave my best while hiring and managing all, achieved amazing results but also failed miserably along the way.

Below I have summarized personal insights and notes from various readings in 6 mini-chapters. I hope it will be helpful when building your next team.

1. Fast And Curious

Fast and Curious

Most candidates become de-motivated when facing 12–15-year career roadmaps to get bigger responsibilities and make more money. Most of them grew up with impressive stories of young people achieving a lot at early ages and can imagine themselves becoming one.

They are hard to wow, hungry for content and their perception about the world is heavily shaped by the availability of all human knowledge at their fingertips.

What You Can Do

Re-think career steps by dividing them into smaller chunks of achievements. Strengthen this approach by designing meaningful reward mechanisms and ensure the availability of resources, tools, and network to nourish employee’s personal & career growth.

2. The Experience Gap

The Experience Gap

There is a significant gap between what millennials experience through daily services like Instagram, Uber, Spotify, Netflix and the experiences they go through during hiring processes of large corporations.

Altered and slow procedures, repetitive steps (asking same information at different stages), inconsistent communication and bad user experience (especially during application and on-boarding) break candidate’s perception at very early stages.

What You Can Do

Evaluate & re-design the current hiring experience to meet today’s user expectations and catch up with experiences delivered by new generation services.

Take into consideration HR’s and business unit’s perspectives too. Most frustrations in candidate’s experience are related to frictions within employee journeys.

3. Purpose Beats Compensation

Why? How? What?

“For millennials, the idea of going to work with the singular goal of maximizing profits and shareholder value is pointless and abhorrent,” says Julie Hanna, a former advisor for Barack Obama.

The lack of a higher purpose and inspiring leaders is one of the core reasons why big corporations struggle to keep millennials motivated and retain in the long term.

What You Can Do

Define or re-phrase your company’s Why, What and How statements. Are they reflecting your goals, mission, and purpose? Do they resonate with people?

Are you hiring talented, experienced leaders with proven track records of establishing successful companies, teams, and impactful results? Do you have strong role models in (mid-senior) leadership team, who can define inspiring purposes, goals and act by them?

4. Interviewers Gonna Be Interviewed.

Interviewees interviewing Interviewers.

Today’s candidates have access to a lot more information about your company than any other generation. Your marketing efforts shape just a fraction of a candidate’s perception, besides many other resources like social media, career forums, blogs, and others.

Ensuring a positive reputation is key to attract the top talent but might also set high expectations in candidates before the interviews.

What You Can Do

It is a time, where candidates also evaluate companies based on their culture, values, and purpose. Ensure that your hiring processes reflect these, and prepare your people for running sophisticated interviews with well-informed candidates.

5. Achievements Talk, Titles Listen.

Your achievements matter more than your titles.

As the first digital natives raised in a connected world with all the information available, millennials do not see age or experience as a strong factor to deliver the best results. Thus, the concept of hierarchy and “my boss knows better” is something they do not relate and comply with.

The new connected world is more about the impact or results you can create with everything you know, rather than how much you know. Considering respect from subordinates as given because of your title or years of experience demonstrates a lack of understanding of the emerging work eco-system.

What You Can Do

Encourage and train the (mid, senior) leadership to offer active accessibility to their teams and demonstrate their abilities with hands-on involvement in ongoing projects.

Design critical moments within the hiring processes teasing culture, people and accessible leadership.

6. Natural Born Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneur By Heart.

70% of Millennials envision working for themselves later in their career path and are more entrepreneurial than their parents.

The environment they grew up in simplifies bringing ideas to life a lot more and equip them with necessary tools, methods, and mentors at lower costs. Today it’s a lot more like “If you think, you have a good idea, there are no excuses not to try it”.

What You Can Do

The entrepreneurial mindset and associated lean methods like field research, quick prototyping, product-market-fit tests are key to find insight-based, strong value propositions. These methods are not just for startups; they can also be helpful for corporations to find strong ideas addressing real human needs.

The millennial workforce is an opportunity if leveraged as a catalyst to embrace an entrepreneurial culture and alter traditional product/service design processes with the organization.

Umut Onan

Written by

Umut Onan

Founder of Wunder Innovation Studio. Father of Leyla and Emir. Always beta.

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