Living in the digital age has made a wide array of channels available for youth to develop their entrepreneurial ideas and take them to the global stage. It’s a major selling point for them when applying for jobs, and it’s working. The newly published National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook 2014 Spring Update confirmed that employers recruiting from the Class of 2014 and beyond are looking for workers “who are decisive, can solve problems, and are good communicators.”Creativity means competitive advantage, solving problems with a fresh approach, and organizations are realizing Gen Y can offer it.
Despite this asset, millennials still are having a tough time finding jobs. What’s the disconnect? I interviewed Peter Arvai, CEO of Prezi — a cloud-based presentation software that created the presume, a visual resume for Gen Y to better sell their skills — to find out why Gen Y isn’t always on hiring managers’ radars and what they can bring to the table, and more specifically how millennials’ creativity can help organizations grow.
Let’s talk about the state of jobs after graduation for millennials.
Arvai: It wasn’t so long ago that graduating seniors had a guaranteed job after graduation. Now they’re sailing into uncharted waters where student’s future relevance of their degree is uncertain. Having said that, there are some students who fair better then early graduates could have done before them; just think about how young entrepreneurs are building some of the most valuable companies of this century. In today’s economy, it is a student’s ability to think creatively which sets the limits of their success over their ability to pass through course work.
What can millennials do to get the attention of hiring managers or human resources personnel?
Arvai: Creativity is key. I remember one of our early employees at Prezi was first told she wasn’t qualified for a particular role in our marketing team. She figured out how to connect some of her past mentors with the hiring manager to validate her credentials. Then she offered to work on projects for free — remotely since she was on the other side of the U.S — and if we didn’t see her value, no harm, no foul. She’d been using Prezi for months before applying for the role and, in the end, her passion and creativity on the tasks earned her a job we thought she wasn’t qualified for.
What skills do you find most companies are looking for?
Arvai: We’re entering a period in human history that I call the Idea Era, where our ability to come up with creative new ideas for solving our massive social and environmental problems is an increasingly important currency. Skills to generate thoughtful and helpful ideas within a company are tied to proactive and creative-thinking. Companies must emphasize diversity of background amongst employees in order to approach problems from truly novel angles.
Are these skills that can be developed or do they want millennial workers joining their workforce to already have them?
Arvai: Creativity is a mindset and it can be cultivated. We have found that when people find their intrinsic motivation, make themselves vulnerable and challenge basic assumptions then they end up doing creative things. Recruiting people with the right mindset over skill-set helps a company and its employees to learn and grow together.
What should hiring managers be looking for when seeking out Gen Y?
Arvai: Just as candidates should have creativity, hiring managers should seek it. It helps to motivate people in times of constant change. It’s equally important in large companies and start-ups. Creativity doesn’t always manifest in deep love for the product/service — although, that’s ideal — but in some there can also be a huge desire to be the best in a particular field, mastery-seeking. Hiring managers should really assess the mindset of candidates and don’t be blinded by skill sets. Both are important, but often we underestimate the mindset necessary for people to grow. Really successful companies find the right balance.