Who is lazy and spoiled, really?

By Even Sandvold Roland and Christian Werner Skovly, co-founders of Rotor AS

The business sector has had an easy ride in a job market in which talent has been cheap. The battle for the best minds is intensifying while Norwegian executives hide behind excuses about a “spoiled” and “lazy” generation of young people.

The debate should go deeper than Swedish seasonal workers and young Norwegians who don’t want a summer job. It is strange to see business managers attempting to explain their inability to attract and recruit young people by claiming that the younger generation is spoiled. In other words, the target group is to blame for unsuccessful recruitment.

The characterization of our generation as arrogant, self-centered, caffè latte-slurping idlers is both dangerous and demonstrably incorrect. Companies which subscribe to this view and base their recruitment on job advertisements in newspapers and sandwiches at career days will make some very expensive mistakes.

Wrong expectations

In its “Class of 2012” survey, Achievers interviewed 8,000 students. The results show that 47 percent expect to be in their next full-time job for five or more years, while almost half of these expect to stay for 10 years or more.

The truth, however, is that most new graduates stay with their employer for a year and a half on average, as figures from the U.S. show. Expectations don’t match reality, and the business sector has itself to thank.

While Norwegian businesses are busy competing to have the trendiest company presentation, the coolest branded coffee cup and the most expensive outing, they forget to ask students what they really need. Students are not given the decision-making basis they need to make informed personal career choices. For example, how many students know the difference between Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers?

Self-obsessed recruitment

Norwegian employers are too self-obsessed in their recruitment. The methods they use are either outdated or irrelevant. Job adverts have the same content regardless of whether the position on offer is that of chief executive or cleaner, and it is often impossible to understand what the job actually involves.

The problem is the business sector’s overall approach to recruitment, not the job adverts themselves. The Norwegian WorkRep survey identifies the problem: “The companies generally talk too much about themselves and too little about what students are interested in: opportunities to develop professionally within the company, what projects they have…”

If you, as an employer, have not earned the right to be chosen, you will not have anyone to choose. The complaint of Manpower’s chief executive about a spoiled generation of young people primarily demonstrates that he has not understood the rules governing the new media reality.

The battle for the best talent is intensifying. As a result of a highly favorable job market, stronger CVs and greater expertise at a young age, many Norwegian students can pick and choose among the best employers. We care little about pay or the market’s need for expertise, according to research by Universum.

Career = identity

If you are to succeed as an employer in this market, you need to create lasting differentiation. Successful companies make long-term, targeted efforts to earn the respect and trust of their dream candidates. These companies manage to communicate in a manner that makes them stand out from the crowd. They make themselves relevant to students, and provide concrete information on the opportunities available and the relevant requirements.

Success in the hunt for talent in a digital environment requires the involvement of the entire company. Recruitment is also a matter of PR, marketing, management, internal communication and, not least, corporate culture. In an interview with the Norwegian business daily Dagens Næringsliv, McKinsey partner Jon Gravråk has emphasized the importance of integrating recruitment into the organization as a whole. It should be thought-provoking that one of the country’s most attractive employers involves half its Norwegian staff in recruitment efforts.

In the end, young people choose an employer with whom they can identify. They want challenging tasks, good development opportunities and close follow-up. A career is not just a “job” for us – it is an important aspect of our life and identity. The business sector therefore has to be innovative in the hunt for talent.

You don’t choose the best talent, it chooses you.

Rotor is the only specialized employer branding agency in Norway. It consists of four partners with an average age of 22 years, and specializes in attracting young talents through strategic communication. www.rotor.no/english/

Even Sandvold Roland is the Co-founder and Manager of the employer branding-agency Rotor. At the age of 18, he was hired as a journalist for VG Nett, Norways largest online newspaper. Six months later he got hired as a PR advisor at Geelmuyden.Kiese, one of the most prominent firms in Norway. Becoming a consultant at the age of 19, he’s probably the youngest consultant in Norway. Today, he’s had the fortune of advising some of the largest brands, businesses and organizations in Norway. Even is also a recognized public speaker. He is 21 years old, and currently lives in Oslo, Norway.

Besides being one of four young partners in the Norwegian employer branding agency Rotor AS, Christian Werner Skovly is a third-year law school student in Bergen, Norway. He is also the vice-president of the faculty rowing crew, with previous experience from the Norwegian army, and as a freelance journalist. 

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 14, 2012 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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