You Need a "Parent-Approved" Brand to Recruit Generation Y

Like it or not, parents are an inevitable part of the process of recruiting members of Generation Y. Most members of this generation seek their parents’ input on key decisions; virtually no Y will accept an offer of employment without first calling home to discuss the pros and cons with his or her parents. You should anticipate this, accept parental involvement as a given, and make the most of it.

Your goal should be to make sure that when that Y calls home, he or she hears three magic words: “Good choice, honey.” Your company needs to have a “parent-approved” employer brand.

The U.S. Army’s recruiting campaign for Generation Y includes ads addressed to the parents. The series for parents features the slogan “You made them strong. We’ll make them Army strong.” Another series addressed to potential recruits encourages them to discuss a career in the Army with their parents.

SkyWest Airlines goes even a step further in incorporating parents into the company’s recruiting campaigns. The ad reads: “At SkyWest Airlines our employees and their parents have access to worldwide travel discounts on airfare, rental cars, hotels, all inclusive resorts and cruises. So, go ahead, tell your kids to apply . . . And have them give you the world for a change.”

Smart companies today are using a variety of approaches to help the parents of Gen Y’s learn about the company and get ready to help in the Y’s decision-making – orientation sessions, conference calls, special FAQ material directed at parents’ likely questions and concerns.

Companies should ask candidates if they would like information sent to their parents and, if so, how to reach the parents, but make the outreach optional. At many Enterprise Rent-A-Car offices, for instance, the company offers to provide information to the parents of prospective candidates and about half of the candidates accept. Merrill Lynch (inviting parents of interns to its offices), Ernst & Young (distributing packs of information for parents to students at some universities), and Vanguard Group (offering candidates the option of sending information letters to parents or others) are among employers that already are responding to the desire of some Gen Y’s for more parental involvement in employment decisions.

Here’s a check list of approaches for involving parents in your Gen Y recruiting activities:
• Distribute packs of information for parents to students at universities and job fairs
• Hold a career fair in your community designed specifically for parents
• Create special FAQ material directed at parents’ likely questions and concerns (retirement, health benefits, 401(k) plans, educational opportunities and so on)
• Hold parent orientation sessions or conference calls
• Invite parents of interns and new hires to visit the Y’s place of work and meet the boss and colleagues
• Provide the staffing necessary to follow through with parent requests
• Run ads communicating your positive attributes as an employer aimed at parents
• Provide incentives for parents to refer their children (beginning with your current employees – if your current employees won’t refer their own children, consider whether you really are a good employer)
• Include parents in employee benefits

Do you have a parent-approved brand?

Source: Tamara J. Erickson @ Harvard Business Publishing