Winning the war on millennial talent in today’s digital economy

Aug 3, 2016 · 4 min read

Isobar’s Global People and Development Director, Nick Bass, discusses some of the challenges of recruiting millennial talent, and explains why a highly targeted approach is key.

Competition for talent in our industry has reached fever pitch. Creative and digital natives are steering away from the once cool agency-world, and moving towards tech companies, the latest start-ups and now the consultancy world.

In the days before digital, recruiters simply competed with the other ads in trade magazines, but the onset of the digital economy has increased competition to an all time high. The competition is now between all content on all platforms, not just between job ads. Traditional recruitment approaches that relied on expensive recruitment agencies, company websites and simple job ads to attract candidates, are now struggling to get cut through.

Today, acquiring millennial talent is an increasingly difficult challenge, as this highly sought after group expects authentic, creative and highly targeted mobile and social approaches. The question recruiters are increasingly asked is, how do we ensure we reach the right talent, at the right time? The answer is to adopt disciplines employed by post-digital marketers. This involves an emphasis on engagement, looking beyond traditional ad-space and growing reach by utilising the targeting and virality of social networks.

The organisations that are winning are the ones embracing digital innovation. For example, Google Creative Lab’s one-year paid program, The Fives, called for people to be as creative as possible in their application by allowing them to redesign (or even re-code) the Google homepage. ‘Fivers’ could be anyone, with previous applicants being writers, designers, filmmakers and developers, showing how creativity comes in many different forms. This approach is suited to millennials, who are tech-savvy and ambitious freethinkers. Throwing down the gauntlet to people who think they’re good enough to become the next ‘Fiver’ was Google’s way of saying, “show us what you’ve got”.

Another tactic increasingly employed by recruiters is for ads to appear where least expected. Fetch, Dentsu Aegis’ mobile experts, popped up on millennial mobiles in New York via Tinder. The last place you would expect to find your employer. 83% of Tinder users are 16–34, which made it a great opportunity to disrupt the usual recruitment model, and create a PR-friendly buzz. Part of the genius of this idea, was that Fetch was able to deliver their message effectively by integrating with everyday behaviours.

However, the onslaught of digital has not lessened the value of trusted word-of-mouth and peer-to-peer recommendations. So, in today’s world where millennials connect with their friends online, how can new job opportunities become part of the conversation?

This was something that Isobar explored in 2014. We were growing quickly and needed fresh creative talent, fast. So, we created a content marketing campaign that we knew would spread through the personal networks of our people who had great creative connections. We came up with a design competition named Future Faces, which called for our designers to create digital images and GIF’s that encompassed our mission of ‘Ideas Without Limits’. The 12 winning designs were then shared in monthly instalments throughout the year across Isobar’s global social media. When a job opening was posted on Twitter using the Future Faces hashtag and image, social media engagement increased by 40% compared to job openings without.

Also, as we celebrated our own people’s work, they were proud to share their own designs with their personal creative connections online, helping drive organic candidate referrals up by 20%.

Now in it’s third year, we continued to evolve the Future Faces concept. Isobar India created a desktop and mobile site, which enabled potential candidates to upload their headshot, select the department they’re looking to join and input details directly from their LinkedIn account.

By embracing digital innovation, we are able to deliver an application process, fitting for millennials who expect seamless user experiences, available wherever they are, with opportunities being easily discoverable.

Attracting millennial talent is set to be one of the greatest challenges to face our industry, but incorporating a creative use of digital in recruitment campaigns will ensure cut through to the right candidates, in the right.

Nick Bass, Global People and Development Director, Isobar

Twitter: @DigitalHRGeek

Future Faces was a Finalist in the CIPD People Management Awards 2015 for ‘Best Recruitment and Talent Initiative’.

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