Recruiting expert Ilka Szentkiralyi on the new reality of recruiting - and how companies can meet the challenges of a changing labor market.
How has applicant behavior changed in recent years? Where is the trend heading? Ilka Szentkiralyi, founder of the active sourcing boutique indivHR: Today's applicants are self-confident and know what they want - and what they don't want. They don't ask, "What does the company expect from me?" but rather, "What does the company do for me?" This is not necessarily about monetary benefits. For young applicants, it's much more important how much overtime is worked, how quickly they can take on responsibility and what sense of purpose the job brings.
Well-educated young applicants in particular know how difficult it has become for companies to find good employees. The demand for qualified IT specialists is higher than it has been for a long time. In this respect, they are in the privileged position of being able to make demands. A few years ago, things looked very different. Good jobs were hotly contested and young applicants had to bow to the demands of the companies.
It's a bit different for older applicants. It's not so easy for them to find a good job today either. Today's over-50s are much more willing to compromise than the younger generation. Despite their years of work experience, companies often think less of them. And they tend to be more expensive. In addition, companies worry that older workers are more likely to be sick, so they can expect longer absences. In addition, the baby boomer generation in particular has learned to be subordinate. Unfortunately, this is especially true for women.
However, not all companies can or want to face the tough competition for well-trained young applicants. Internationally active companies in particular are increasingly looking abroad for suitable candidates. They may not always be as well educated, but they have fewer demands. In return, some companies are willing to invest in the education and training of foreign applicants, e.g., through internship programs.
Interestingly, the so-called Generation Y phenomenon does not exist in southern and eastern European countries. Unemployment is high there in some cases and applicants have significantly less power than in this country. For me, therefore, the trend - especially in large companies - is clearly toward globalization of the labor market.
What new requirements do Millennials and the next generations bring with them? In contrast to Generation Y, which seems to see primarily its own benefit and the fulfillment of its own desires, the next generations are probably more concerned with careers and getting ahead quickly. At the same time, the younger generation shows a stronger tendency toward closer ties. Values such as family, marriage and fidelity are becoming more important again.
How should companies respond to these changing motivational mechanisms? In addition to support programs, stays abroad and the rapid transfer of responsibility, the main thing is to make applicants aware of the importance of the profession. For example, IT specialists with specific niche skills are urgently needed in German-speaking countries. To be able to perform these jobs, a degree in a technical field is required. This is followed by continuous training and specialization. The training process is therefore quite long and continues through trainee and apprenticeship programs at the companies. This creates a close bond with the company even at this stage.
So it's about explaining to candidates what you, as a company, are also doing to train employees. And that is separate from the financial aspects. But because the numbers and their own vanity are often in the foreground, some companies have a hard time with this. I've often heard the phrases, "Our company has such high prestige that we'll always find applicants - even if we have little to offer in terms of personnel development." But if you look at demographic trends over the next few years, you'll see that there will be far fewer applicants in the future. Resting on our existing image is just short-sighted and arrogant, in my opinion. And no educated young applicant will voluntarily go to an arrogant company if they have other alternatives.
Which industries are feeling the change particularly strongly - and how should they deal with it? The change affects all industries. One industry that was very popular until a few years ago and could choose its candidates was the consulting industry. But even the large management consultancies that are used to success are finding it increasingly difficult to find suitable candidates. They still find some without having to cut corners. But the pool they draw from is getting smaller and smaller. One of the main reasons is the large number of working hours in this industry. 60 to 80 hours a week is quite normal. They also end up in a technical management position quite early on, but not in a disciplinary one. That, in turn, can be a disadvantage if they later aspire to a higher position in the industry.
Of course, small and medium-sized industrial companies in rural areas are in a particularly difficult situation. Who, as a young person, would want to work in a remote small town after graduation? If a company can't offer something special or convey the meaningfulness of the work, it will be even harder to attract applicants in the coming years.
How will companies and applicants meet in the future? What will change in terms of recruitment, what will remain the same? I think that companies will have to invest even more in employee marketing in the future and present their profile as an employer to the public. The company's mission and vision play a big role in this. Who are we? Where do we want to go? Why do we do what we do? Social networks still play a major role. But traditional ways, such as open days, are also important. Companies need to open up more and show who they are. It's like the individual: If I don't show who I am, the people who fit me won't be able to find me.
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