It’s that wonderful time of the year — when HR pros have the pleasure of sifting through piles of resumes from recent college grads, fired up and ready to start their careers. But here’s the danger: There appears to be a giant disconnect between how HR people view Millennials — applicants between 19 and 26 — and the way these future business leaders see themselves.
Consider the results of a recent study from Beyond.com, which canvassed 6,000 job seekers and veteran HR professionals.
- Are Millennials tech-savvy? 86% of HR professionals said yes; just 35% of Millennials agreed.
- Do Millennials have strong communication skills? 65% of Millennials said they relate well to others; only 14% of the HR pros thought so.
- Are Millennials hard workers? 86% of Millennials said yes; a meager 11% of HR people agreed.
- Are Millennials able to lead? 40% of Millennials said they felt they could; just 9% of the HR pros saw that potential.
- Are Millennials loyal to their employers? 82% of Millennials said they would be; a microscopic 1% of the HR pros believed that.
And the key question, at least in our estimation:
- Are Millennials team players? 60% of Millennials said yes, but just 22% of the HR pros thought the 19-to-26-year-olds would make good team players.
Can they fit into your culture?
Part of this divergence in viewpoint is, of course, the normal run of human behavior — many Baby Boomers can well remember when our parents seemed resigned to the fact we were all long-haired hippies who would never amount to anything.
(We’ll take a pass on a rueful comment concerning the irony of how many Boomers likely took part in the Beyond.com survey. Too easy.)
Generation gap aside, however, it’s pretty clear that HR folks and Millennials aren’t starting this new-job thing on the same page.
Seems to us, the one attribute HR pros are likely looking for — and evidence of it may not show up on a resume — is whether or not a Millennial applicant can function as part of a group. Your group.
Bruce Piasecki, author of the new book Doing More with Teams: The New Way to Winning, offers some ideas to help HR people identify those young applicants who’ll best fit your company and culture:
- Conduct interviews in a team of four or five leaders. This will replicate the dynamics of the team setting the new employee will be working in, explains Piasecki. “Good team players tend to do well in settings of four or five people asking an avalanche of questions,” he observes.
- Look for an intrinsic ability to “bond” with interview team members. Even more important than dress, training, or résumé, says Piasecki, is the candidate’s ability to “bond” instantly with at least three to five members of the interview team. This doesn’t merely mean an affinity for small talk or schmoozing, but a real interest and understanding of what your company does and how it does it.
- Look for a comfort level with the rapid-fire give-and-take of the interview team. Piasecki explains that people who work well in teams do certain things well in interviews. For example:
They don’t get ruffled. They answer pointed questions with calm and precision, without being terse. They don’t have performance anxiety. They demonstrate grace under pressure and know when to express themselves in a forceful way.
They enjoy interviews that involve more than one “boss.” These people relate one person’s question to another, and they answer to the group by relating the questions as “pieces of an overall composite” of a whole. “Team players know individual questions are merely a part of the mosaic of the culture that runs a firm,” says Piasecki. “They are ‘looking’ to get a sense of that culture and articulate how they anticipate fitting into that culture.”
The two key attitudes you’re looking for in a new young hire:
They show respect for the team they are seeking to join. Fierce individualists might focus on their performances in previous jobs, internships or academic programs, and on why your company should put their ideas into practice. Team-oriented candidates, on the other hand, will never display such arrogance. “Team players understand the legacy of the team, the coaching approach and the reasons to improve in the current season,” says Piasecki.
They demonstrate a desire to work with you for a long time. Every company’s quest is to generate revenue through respect, relationships and long service. That kind of well-paid loyalty requires a team player, says Piasecki. You are always looking for a longer-term player, someone who is coachable over all seasons, not just individual project events.