Profile - How We Recruit Millennials

A Standout Culture Offers An Edge

Tom HavensIn just 10 years, population studies show, Millennials will make up more than 75% of the U.S. workforce. Your company’s future could well rest on how you recruit top talent from this young generation. So how’s it done? A big key is culture – one that’s positive, interactive and fun.

“We make an effort to keep work life entertaining with happy hours, offsite meetings and much more,” says Tom Havens, president of Catalyst Marketing (asi/159067). “Imagine a room with nine or so people under the age of 28 and four or five folks in their 30s. It’s pretty cool.”

Seattle-based Catalyst, a 2014 Counselor Best Places to Work company, actively markets its engaging office to potential hires – especially Millennials. Why? “They learn quickly, are eager to get up and running, bring in a whole new level of energy and are technology savvy,” Havens says.

Read on for Havens’ hiring advice.

Q: What’s your approach to recruiting Millennials?
A: We try to get involved with the local colleges here in Seattle by speaking at their marketing or sales clubs, and by attending their career fairs and bringing on interns.

Q: Why do you like hiring people from Gen Y?
A: We make a point of hiring four-year college graduates with zero to two years of experience. These young people are at the height of their learning curve with no bad habits. Their brains are like sponges.

Q: How do you use your company’s culture to attract younger job candidates?
A: Our culture is collaborative, creative and friendly, plus it provides our employees great autonomy and responsibility. I think anyone, whether they’re young or old, thrives in an environment in which they can create an impact, be recognized and be shown a road map of how they can advance.

Q: Do you give staffers incentives to find good candidates themselves?
A: You bet. Like attracts like. We pay $500 for anyone who refers a candidate we hire.

Q: What’s a typical interview at Catalyst like?
A: We first have them come in and talk with me. It’s a very low-key interview – more of an hour long get-to-know-you session. I want to learn about a candidate’s family, what motivates them, and their heroes. Then, we have them meet 10 or more people at one time in the conference room. We just throw them in the fire and see how they react. After these two sessions, we know pretty quickly if this person is the right fit.

Q: What types of interview questions do you ask?
A: I like to ask about their activities outside of school to see how well-rounded they are. I ask about competitive activities – sports, speech debates, marathons. I really want to see if they have a fire in their belly. I find out about their family and I really like the youngest child in a bigger family. These kinds of people have thick skin, are typically very social and have the ability to prove their point. I want to find out, too, if they’ve grown up with parents who’ve been in sales or run their own company. Growing up in this environment where parents model a strong work ethic can be helpful. Lastly, I like to ask: What is the biggest misconception about you? It gets them to think about how others perceive them.

Q: Before you hire, do you check younger candidates’ social media profiles?
A: We haven’t done that. Maybe we should.

Q: What perks are most important to younger employees and why?
A: I think giving them respect, providing them an environment in which they can learn and make an impact is really key. Inspiring them to strive for excellence in everything they do is important.

Q: What compensation structure do Millennials prefer?
A: To be clear, most of our hires that I’ve been referring to are for support, not necessarily for sales. Our goal is to mentor these young people and move them into a sales role in three to five years. Our salespeople are on salary plus commission – which most people seem to prefer.