Working with Business-to-Business (B2B) sales people and predominantly Millennials, candidate behaviors have emerged that are the new normal.
Recruiters and hiring managers need to adapt.
We need to accept candidates as they are and do; not as we want them to be and act.
(Before I proceed, let me be clear: this is NOT another Baby Boomer rant about Millennials and how they are a lost generation, don’t want to work hard, are entitled, blah, blah, blah. That is complete nonsense. Millennials are like every other age cohort. Humans don’t change dramatically in a single generation. Actually, the three factual differences about Millennials — that they are more diverse and tolerant of diversity, better educated, and more technologically capable — are all positives. Frankly, and this is fodder for a separate article, but we “old” folks really need to shut up and stop bitching about Millennials because it’s tiresome and pointless.)
Now, back to the subject, here are 5 emerging candidate behaviors and implications for recruiters and hiring managers:
- Resistance to use the phone as a phone. Texting and social networking dominate iPhone usage. Mobile phone (versus desktop/laptop) applications to our clients’ openings are the rule, not the exception. The one task people increasingly do NOT use their iPhone to do: talk to people. Forget voicemail. Hint: the candidate will not listen to yours nor ever call you back. We text candidates (hiring managers too) more often then we call them these days. For straightforward tactical issues (e.g. can you interview on Thursday afternoon or Friday morning?) texting is great. Unfortunately, candidates will often try to hold a substantive or the entire discussion via text. That’s unproductive. It’s preferable for both parties to (text each other to) find time for a 10 minute, “old school” phone call.
- Quitting a sales job without a new sales job. I would dare say that most of the Boomer generation was conditioned to never do this. This just isn’t the way it is anymore. As a recruiter or hiring manager, we need to accept that candidates no longer consider it necessary or even an asset to be employed while seeking a new job. I admit that I still struggle with this one but we need to be less suspicious and judgmental!
- Taking vacation while NOT working. Similar to quitting a job without a new job, I’ve encountered many sales candidates — too many to even consider this remarkable any more — who take a vacation (often a really good one that makes this working recruiter envious) during a job search and while they are NOT employed. Vacation used to — by definition — presume that one was taking time off from, well, working. That is just not true any longer. Just go with it and don’t prejudge someone’s work ethic and value system.
- Applying for sales jobs casually and indiscriminately. A candidate can kill dead time on their iPhone applying to intriguing job openings on Indeed and LinkedIn. Then we call the candidate and are shocked that they don’t remember applying for the job or they ask us (sometimes apologetically but often not) to refresh their memory with the details of the job and company. This is a behavior that we — the recruiters and hiring managers — created. We’re the dopes who made it easier to apply for a job than to order a cup of coffee. So, who are we to get frosted with a candidate who casually applied? Take a breath and then explain the opportunity and discuss their career and determine if it makes sense to keep going.
- Serial sales job hopping. Related to applying for sales jobs indiscriminately, the unintended consequence of easy access to job opportunities via the iPhone combined with recruiter and/or hiring manager pressure to fill openings results in quick hires, bad job fits and high turnover. It’s not difficult for an early career sales person to spin through a new sales job every 6 months to a year, which can become a toxic cycle. It’s on us – as recruiters and hiring managers – to help sales people understand their true career objectives and whether a particular opening truly fits and makes sense for where they will be successful and where they are going.