How Technology Companies Can Connect with Generation Z

Richard Emmerson - Senior Consultant, Communications Systems

By: Richard Emmerson
Senior Consultant, Communications Systems

24th January 2018

Home » Recruitment

Generation Z (referring to the cohort born between the mid-1990s to mid-2000s) is the first generation to never know life without the internet, social media and technology with high-resolution colour screens…. just let that sink in for a second.

This new wave of young people will be the future-shapers of technology and innovation in our industry and are already strongly familiar with today’s technological achievements (smartphones, tablets and VR/AR entertainment systems to name a few).

In fact, switching between screens, devices, accounts and platforms all comes naturally to generation Z, as if intuitive; all the while juggling multiple tasks and projects without, seemingly, sacrificing the quality of their work. Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised, or worried, if we see them on their phones all day, it’s their default position for communicating with colleagues, taking notes and doing research. This lends itself to the question:

How do you connect with a generation that is, in many ways, already connected?

Having been an Assessor for the Engineering Education Scheme (EES) Applied Programme, an educational classroom scheme that aims to inspire young people into pursuing a career into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics through carrying out projects in ‘real-life’ business conditions; I believe that first-hand experience may hold the answer.

The opportunity for young people to experience real-life exposure to our industry has, I think, a two-fold benefit. Firstly, so that they may be inspired and motivated to lead the way in the latest cutting-edge technology and secondly, so that we, collectively in the industry, may learn from a new and fresh perspective on what we are currently doing in our methods and practises.

With the latter in mind, here are 3 things I think a company in the technology/electronics industry can do to gain maximum benefit from their newest and youngest workforce.

1. Mix and match project teams

While selecting a project team involves much strategic decision-making, many project managers may favour in picking teams stocked with their most experienced and specialist experts. From personal experience during projects, I’ve found that the most effective working groups often feature a mix of top experts with junior and lower-level professionals.

2. Let Junior Engineers lead project work (when appropriate) with guidance

Giving junior engineers the chance to contribute as to what direction the project should be heading will help them integrate quickly and develop the confidence they need to bring their skills and education to the table. At the same time, gentle guidance can be given here so that they can learn from each team member’s unique areas of expertise and stay on track with the project timeline. Life skills, such as teamwork, time management, and project management skills can also develop faster.

3. Create a mentorship scheme

Similar to my previous point, a mentorship scheme goes one step further that project-based guidance. A mentorship scheme is extremely important for young people, while information is available at a touch of a button; real-life experiences can only be taught and cannot be downloaded. Such relationships encourage knowledge transfer and skills development, honing softer skills that will ease them into the established ways of working.

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Generation Z (referring to the cohort born between the mid-1990s to mid-2000s) is the first generation to never know life without the internet, social media and technology with high-resolution colour screens…. just let that sink in for a second.

This new wave of young people will be the future-shapers of technology and innovation in our industry and are already strongly familiar with today’s technological achievements (smartphones, tablets and VR/AR entertainment systems to name a few).

In fact, switching between screens, devices, accounts and platforms all comes naturally to generation Z, as if intuitive; all the while juggling multiple tasks and projects without, seemingly, sacrificing the quality of their work. Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised, or worried, if we see them on their phones all day, it’s their default position for communicating with colleagues, taking notes and doing research. This lends itself to the question:

How do you connect with a generation that is, in many ways, already connected?

Having been an Assessor for the Engineering Education Scheme (EES) Applied Programme, an educational classroom scheme that aims to inspire young people into pursuing a career into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics through carrying out projects in ‘real-life’ business conditions; I believe that first-hand experience may hold the answer.

The opportunity for young people to experience real-life exposure to our industry has, I think, a two-fold benefit. Firstly, so that they may be inspired and motivated to lead the way in the latest cutting-edge technology and secondly, so that we, collectively in the industry, may learn from a new and fresh perspective on what we are currently doing in our methods and practises.

With the latter in mind, here are 3 things I think a company in the technology/electronics industry can do to gain maximum benefit from their newest and youngest workforce.

1. Mix and match project teams

While selecting a project team involves much strategic decision-making, many project managers may favour in picking teams stocked with their most experienced and specialist experts. From personal experience during projects, I’ve found that the most effective working groups often feature a mix of top experts with junior and lower-level professionals.

2. Let Junior Engineers lead project work (when appropriate) with guidance

Giving junior engineers the chance to contribute as to what direction the project should be heading will help them integrate quickly and develop the confidence they need to bring their skills and education to the table. At the same time, gentle guidance can be given here so that they can learn from each team member’s unique areas of expertise and stay on track with the project timeline. Life skills, such as teamwork, time management, and project management skills can also develop faster.

3. Create a mentorship scheme

Similar to my previous point, a mentorship scheme goes one step further that project-based guidance. A mentorship scheme is extremely important for young people, while information is available at a touch of a button; real-life experiences can only be taught and cannot be downloaded. Such relationships encourage knowledge transfer and skills development, honing softer skills that will ease them into the established ways of working.

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5 Useful Tips on How to Attract the Best Candidates

Tom Parrott - Senior Project Manager

By: Tom Parrott
Senior Project Manager

24th May 2017

Home » Recruitment

Most managers have a sinking feeling when they anticipate a new recruitment drive. Invariably, you start looking for people just when everyone is at their busiest – that’s when you need new people.

There is no doubting that recruitment isn’t easy, it requires real effort but here are some useful tips that will help ease the process.

1. Promote your company

The key to success is that recruitment needs to be an ongoing task – the same as selling your product. Every contact with a customer, a contact in your local network, or a connection made at an industry event is an opportunity to portray your company in a positive light. The easiest way to recruit is from within your field of influence; this pool of select individuals will understand your business and have the relevant skills.

2. Look for new talent

As well as experience, you need new talented individuals who are embarking on their career. This new talent will reinvigorate your company. An excellent way to do this is to develop an easy route by forming relationships with universities and colleges. An active student placement or apprentice scheme can reap rich rewards, providing the opportunity for a two-way communication channel; where students get to know the company and where you can assess them before offering employment.

3. Have an efficient and consistent process

Of course there always comes a time, due to a sudden rise in business or loss of key staff, where an intense recruitment campaign is needed. This is where a solid recruitment process is essential. One which addresses the hot spots to ensure the best candidates are found and kept.

Put yourself in your candidates’ shoes, they are probably thinking:

“I want somewhere where I can learn, put my skills to good use, where I enjoy going to work and have new challenges. When I apply for a position, I want to be told quickly of my suitability (or otherwise), and I want to be kept informed and updated regularly throughout the process. I will get fed-up and put off by a company that is slow to respond.”

There is nothing worse for a prospective employee than dealing with an organisation that takes ages to arrange a first interview, doesn’t communicate effectively and doesn’t make it clear what the job is about or where they can fit in.

Addressing these issues is straightforward but is often not done. The recruitment process needs to be managed by an individual that is going to fully take on the responsibility. A good mindset to have is to treat it as if it was like any other project in your business.

Each CV must be logged, sent to the right recruiting manager, chased up (remember, this may not be the manager’s primary activity). Agencies must be kept informed, highlighting where they are getting it right and where they are getting it wrong. Where only a very few CVs are coming in for a particular role, a new strategy needs to be found. Regular recruiting team meetings are needed to keep reviewing the approach and adapting when required.

4. Be prepared

Preparation by the recruiting manager is essential for a good interview. Equal emphasis needs to be placed on selling the company and assessing your candidate’s suitability. Know your company’s unique selling points (USPs) and make them clear to your applicants.

For example, your USPs might be having excellent ‘old hands’ with a wealth of experience to learn from, a vast range of challenging projects and loads of past successes to boast about. Research your candidates and find out what drives them and which one of your company’s USPs speaks loudest to them, be it a workplace with an easy commute or the impressive facilities and employee benefits.

Interviews also need to involve the widest possible representation from within the business; this helps the candidate to assess the company culture and interviewers to see if they would fit in with the team.

5. Take the time to celebrate

As a final point, successful recruitment needs to be celebrated. Inform the whole company and get them involved. New recruits need to be welcomed by everyone and helped to feel at home. For the organisation to grow, they need to be fully embraced by the team and feel immediate inclusion. This then quickly allows both parties to learn and share knowledge more freely.

When it is done right!

I was involved in just such an approach recently. We recruited 12 new staff in the short timeframe of around 4 months. This included: software engineers, mechanical designers, RF engineers and business development managers. We were sifting CVs for people who were a good fit and we also worked with the local regional college to set up two new apprenticeships for PCB design and IT support roles.

Our success required digging deep into our customer contacts (especially for the business development roles) and we also employed the services of specialist agencies. Through discipline, regular review sessions and perseverance, we were rewarded with a group of excellent new recruits, who are now having a huge positive impact in the company.

Most managers have a sinking feeling when they anticipate a new recruitment drive. Invariably, you start looking for people just when everyone is at their busiest – that’s when you need new people.

There is no doubting that recruitment isn’t easy, it requires real effort but here are some useful tips that will help ease the process.

1. Promote your company

The key to success is that recruitment needs to be an ongoing task – the same as selling your product. Every contact with a customer, a contact in your local network, or a connection made at an industry event is an opportunity to portray your company in a positive light. The easiest way to recruit is from within your field of influence; this pool of select individuals will understand your business and have the relevant skills.

2. Look for new talent

As well as experience, you need new talented individuals who are embarking on their career. This new talent will reinvigorate your company. An excellent way to do this is to develop an easy route by forming relationships with universities and colleges. An active student placement or apprentice scheme can reap rich rewards, providing the opportunity for a two-way communication channel; where students get to know the company and where you can assess them before offering employment.

3. Have an efficient and consistent process

Of course there always comes a time, due to a sudden rise in business or loss of key staff, where an intense recruitment campaign is needed. This is where a solid recruitment process is essential. One which addresses the hot spots to ensure the best candidates are found and kept.

Put yourself in your candidates’ shoes, they are probably thinking:

“I want somewhere where I can learn, put my skills to good use, where I enjoy going to work and have new challenges. When I apply for a position, I want to be told quickly of my suitability (or otherwise), and I want to be kept informed and updated regularly throughout the process. I will get fed-up and put off by a company that is slow to respond.”

There is nothing worse for a prospective employee than dealing with an organisation that takes ages to arrange a first interview, doesn’t communicate effectively and doesn’t make it clear what the job is about or where they can fit in.

Addressing these issues is straightforward but is often not done. The recruitment process needs to be managed by an individual that is going to fully take on the responsibility. A good mindset to have is to treat it as if it was like any other project in your business.

Each CV must be logged, sent to the right recruiting manager, chased up (remember, this may not be the manager’s primary activity). Agencies must be kept informed, highlighting where they are getting it right and where they are getting it wrong. Where only a very few CVs are coming in for a particular role, a new strategy needs to be found. Regular recruiting team meetings are needed to keep reviewing the approach and adapting when required.

4. Be prepared

Preparation by the recruiting manager is essential for a good interview. Equal emphasis needs to be placed on selling the company and assessing your candidate’s suitability. Know your company’s unique selling points (USPs) and make them clear to your applicants.

For example, your USPs might be having excellent ‘old hands’ with a wealth of experience to learn from, a vast range of challenging projects and loads of past successes to boast about. Research your candidates and find out what drives them and which one of your company’s USPs speaks loudest to them, be it a workplace with an easy commute or the impressive facilities and employee benefits.

Interviews also need to involve the widest possible representation from within the business; this helps the candidate to assess the company culture and interviewers to see if they would fit in with the team.

5. Take the time to celebrate

As a final point, successful recruitment needs to be celebrated. Inform the whole company and get them involved. New recruits need to be welcomed by everyone and helped to feel at home. For the organisation to grow, they need to be fully embraced by the team and feel immediate inclusion. This then quickly allows both parties to learn and share knowledge more freely.

When it is done right!

I was involved in just such an approach recently. We recruited 12 new staff in the short timeframe of around 4 months. This included: software engineers, mechanical designers, RF engineers and business development managers. We were sifting CVs for people who were a good fit and we also worked with the local regional college to set up two new apprenticeships for PCB design and IT support roles.

Our success required digging deep into our customer contacts (especially for the business development roles) and we also employed the services of specialist agencies. Through discipline, regular review sessions and perseverance, we were rewarded with a group of excellent new recruits, who are now having a huge positive impact in the company.

Save