SI Review: July 2012

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The Other Side

Don’t Call Me Temporary

What millennials can teach staffing firms

By Sean O’Leary

Depending on whom you ask, I am a freelance writer, a temporary employee, a contingent worker, that new guy who sits in Ricky’s old cubicle.

Personally, I would opt to erase the temporary worker label from the staffing industry lexicon altogether.

Am I a temporary athlete if I only play basketball on the weekend? We all are here temporarily, so an easy first step to bring together modern-day contingent labor pools and staffing firms is to do away with ostracizing rhetoric. So call me a freelancer or a contingent worker any day, but don’t call me temporary. Being thought of as a temp saps my motivation and hurts productivity.

Redefining Relationships

We millennials (those roughly between the ages of 18 and 30) who have turned to “gigging” as a legitimate means to make ends meet (myself included) see the Web as an opportunity to re-write bad business models and inefficient job hunting strategies. I found work with my current employer through a job opening posted on craigslist, not through the diligent efforts of the folks over at my local recruiting office.

In fact, the Internet age has given birth to globalization, or the increasing global relationship between various people and cultures, which has radically shifted our collective concepts of how free markets and labor pools interact. From the first online classified ads straight through to today’s booming Web-based job platforms, connecting potential employees and employers every day in real time is becoming increasingly easier/faster without the help of a middleman.

Social Revolution? Really

If you don’t want to be seen as the middleman, you have to tread where we hang out. And that takes you to the social Web. Staffing Industry Review touched on the growing social revolution within the staffing industry in its May 2012 issue, calling on firms to beef up efforts to make an impression and connect with all the potential human capital (another horrible industry term) floating around the Web, scanning craigslist, Facebook and LinkedIn for work.

Well, even that siren sound may be coming a bit late.

It’s not enough to implement a new SEO strategy or update a boring, friendless Facebook product/services page. Much kudos to your staffing firm if it has a few hundred Twitter followers. But no post-college worker I know wakes up and checks their ManpowerGroup profile page. All of this is meaningless, as you need more than hashtags and like buttons to connect with talent like me.

Career placement, just like everything else, is always evolving. Back to the Web. Why do I need Adecco or ManpowerGroup when I can find a job, sell my old couch on craigslist or make good money balancing multiple projects through my oDesk account?

For staffing firms to stay ahead of the curve and have access to new pools of talent, they may want to consider shaking off those heavy, 20th century chains and learn how to walk and talk like the tech and entertainment industries. This means more than just socializing and data-mining. It is about building e-relationships that last a lifetime; connecting with freelancers because you need them, not just because they need you.

At the end of the day, there is a wide gap between how millennials seek employment and how staffing firms gather human capital. If you want to reach us, you need to understand how we think. It’s not enough to call us freelancers or contingents. Go where we hang out. Engage us. And that means getting socially smart. Start building those relationships. You know where to find us. Those staffing companies that are able to stay relevant and engage constructively with the millennials of today are the ones that will reap the benefits of our ambitions and skill sets for years to come.

Sean O’Leary is a freelance writer based in Mountain View, Calif. He can be reached at seanoleary1121@gmail.com.

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