Follow the leader to find brave new talent

 

INTERVIEW:Lucian Tarnowski sees social networking as key to the future of recruitment and warns companies not to lose touch with Generation Y

BAFFLED BY blogs, Facebook comments and tweets, many companies undoubtedly hoped online social networking would be a passing fad.

Now though it is such an integral form of communication for its prospective next generation of employees that companies risk losing touch and losing talent if they don’t embrace it, especially in the area of recruitment, believes Lucian Tarnowski.

Tarnowski (26), an entrepreneur named Europe’s youngest Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and cited as one of the UK’s “Top 10 Up and Coming Entrepreneurs”, set up a website and business in response, BraveNewTalent.com, two years ago. It has been live for the past year and garnered enough initial interest that it has been named a “Technology Company of Exceptional Potential” by the British government.

“We spent the first year really building the technology and what the proposition was,” he says. “It was important that we really got the basic concept right.”

The concept is deceptively simple – that the youngest generation entering the workforce at the moment is a digital generation that does not see a distinct separation between the online and off-line worlds. They want – and increasingly expect – their working world to be accessible online, too.

Enter BraveNewTalent.com, a platform where jobseekers and companies can set up basic profiles for free.

Jobseekers can sign up to follow companies, which may be via social networking tools the company already uses, like Twitter or Facebook, but BraveNewTalent will also build out a bespoke channel within the site, starting at a cost of about £5,000 (€6,000).

The company channel enables a site user to follow the company, see when they tweet, see new blog posts, view news stories and so on. The jobseeker can also receive job advertisements from the companies in which they are interested and can send in applications via the site. The advantage of this, Tarnowski believes, is that companies know that they can target those people who have already expressed an interest in their company and the jobseeker hopefully will get priority for their application because they have already shown an interest in the company.

Compare that to the current situation where companies post advertisements for jobs as a sort of general broadcast to an unfiltered audience of millions, while on the other side, jobseekers send out hundreds or thousands of CVs to different companies in a scatter-gun approach.

Tarnowski says they are trying to create an end-to-end solution linking the jobseeker and the company.

He emphasises however that BraveNew Talent is not trying to force change in the jobseeking world. “BraveNewTalent is riding a change, it’s not creating it. That whole change is already happening with consumer brands; employer brands are lagging.”

Tomorrow’s employees will come from this digital native population, who have a set of expectations structured around the internet. Ironically, in a reversal of roles, it is these natives who are more on top of technology and social trends than the companies wishing to employ them.

“Generation Y, the Millennials – they are unique for one very important reason. For the first time, the youngest people entering the workforce are the most knowledgeable about these new tools and understand the core changes and paradox shifts better than the chief executive. It gives them a position of power,” says Tarnowski.

While one might question whether there is much power to be had in the current job market and a slumping global economy, Tarnowski argues that companies need to understand how to find the desirable employees within this generation and learn what motivates them to select one employer over another.

If online engagement and social networking tools are the obvious connection point, the kind of workplace carrots that lure Generation Y will probably surprise most companies, according to a study, Managing Tomorrow’s People, recently released by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“They’re much more interested in travelling globally. The key difference is their loyalty to their skill rather than their employer,” says Tarnowski, who was in Dublin recently for the launch of the report. That alone is a major change for companies who are used to luring employees with the promise of security and stability in a single location.

They also want an employer that is as technologically adept as they are or they will go elsewhere.

“If you think about the pace of change in the lifetime of this generation, they think ‘I’ve only ever known radical change – mobiles, TV, the internet – I expect the same from my employer’. They expect the employer to keep up with the times,” says Tarnowski.

A key finding in the report is the discovery that even though companies may be laggards in the area of social networking and communicating online, they actually expect a high degree of technical competence from employees with such demands in their jobs.

“A lot of the chief executives that we talked to around the world said that the education system isn’t doing what the employers need it to do, so the employers are doing the educating themselves,” says Mark Carter, partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers Ireland.

Tarnowski sees that gap as an opportunity. He says his company is working to make online training materials available to prospective employees in advance of them applying to companies, so that they can bring their skills up to par for potential jobs.

“We would let the employers train and develop and distribute material to the candidates off the payroll. We would make access to education free, offering training courses in advance of the job.”

Meanwhile, his pitch to companies is that BraveNewTalent “will build a community of people interested in your company, who want to work for you.”

Rather than the relationship being one way and transactional – from the employer to the prospective employee – engagement is now two-way social recruitment, much more attractive to younger employees.

“I just see BraveNewTalent as a really obvious answer,” says Tarnowski.

The question will be whether those Millennials want a single point of contact for companies – as seems likely in some form – or prefer to graze independently across the net’s social byways for company information and contacts.