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4 Things to Look for When Hiring Millennials

By vts | October 19, 2016
4 Things to Look for When Hiring Millennials

Once when John C. Maxwell was having lunch with legendary coach Lou Holtz, Lou said with a grin, “I’ve had good players and I’ve had bad players. I’m a better coach with good players.”

The same is true with your corporate team leaders and managers looking to recruit talented millennial employees. If they want better teams, they must recruit better players.

If they want to develop better millennial leaders on their teams, they don’t need better passing, blocking, or tackling skills. But they do need to recruit people with high leadership potential.

People development is where your managers create a lasting foundation for a winning organization. And recruiting is the first and most important task in developing people.

If hiring millennials is so important, why do so many hiring efforts fall short so many times? CNN contributor, Jeffrey Cohn gives answer that may benefit your managers:

The short answer is, we focus on all the wrong things, like a candidate’s charm, their stellar résumé or their academic credentials. None of this has any bearing on leadership potential. And despite claims to the contrary, even a candidate’s past results have little bearing on whether the promoted individual will succeed once promoted.

Your leaders can’t develop people without potential—no matter how hard they try. Hiring millennials who aren’t interested in growing as leaders—and then expecting him or her to be effective–is like asking a horse to climb a tree. It just isn’t going to happen. And your managers will quickly become frustrated.

If they want potential tree climbers, they must find eager squirrels. If they want a potential millennial leaders, they must focus on hiring millennials with the traits of a good leader.

The Four C’s of Recruiting Leaders
When trying to recruit millennial leaders and potential difference-makers, your managers and leaders will have the most success when they employ the proven Four C’s of Recruiting. Feel free to pass this list along to help guide their efforts:

  • Chemistry: It doesn’t take long to figure out if they like a person applying for a job. Is liking them important? Absolutely. When someone hides behind technology, for example, rather than engaging in conversation in the recruiting process, that could be a bad sign. If that person struggles to connect with other people, the entire team will likely struggle to connect with him or her. And if your managers don’t like the person, they won’t be effective guides. They’ll be reluctant to invest time into the relationship. In addition to evaluating the personal connection, they should pay attention to how well that person might mesh with your organizational culture. Often they can innately sense whether a person will connect with the culture of your organization, even if they can’t initially give a specific reason why. Bottom line: chemistry matters.
  • Character: Good character makes trust possible. Trust makes strong relationships possible. Strong relationships make growth possible. They won’t be able to develop someone who can’t be trusted. And if you’re expecting to instill character into a new hire, they’ll be disappointed. Millennials are often mislabeled as lacking character or a “work ethic” as a group, but the truth is they place a high value on doing work that matters. Your managers should not assume someone lacks character because of his or her age. When they dig deeper, they’ll discover what make each person tick.
  • Capacity: It can be deeply fulfilling to invest in millennial employees to help them bring out their best. But your leaders will become frustrated trying to bring out what isn’t there. If they want to recruit millennials with the capacity to be developed into good leaders, they must not ask for what they wish the millennial recruit could give, but evaluate what he or she actually has the potential to give. They can try to access their capacity in the following areas:
    • Stress management—their ability to withstand and overcome pressure, failure, deadlines, and obstacles
    • Skill—their ability to get specific tasks done
    • Thinking—their ability to be creative, develop strategy, solve problems, and adapt
    • Leadership—their ability to gather followers and build a team
    • Attitude—their ability to remain positive and tenacious amidst negative circumstances
  • Contribution: Some people possess an X factor. They are winners. They contribute beyond their job responsibilities, and they lift the performance of everyone on their team. When your leaders discover people with these characteristics, they should aggressively recruit them. Such people who possess this intangible drive can be a joy to develop, and whatever your managers put into them get a terrific return on the investment. But a word of caution to your managers: Millennial employees are often multi-skilled, having come of age in a high-tech era that values efficiency. It’s easy to presume that hard skill capacity also means soft skill success. But not everyone who knows social media has a high emotional intelligence (EQ). Help your leaders to invest effort into assessing how a potential millennial hire would contribute to their team before they invest time and money into training them.

Hiring millennials comes down to this simple truth expressed by another college football coach Bobby Bowden: “If you get the best players and coach them soundly, you’re going to win.” The same is true for your leaders and managers.

When your managers or “coaches” find the best millennial “players” and guide them well, your entire company will win.

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