A day doesn’t go by that I am not involved in a conversation with someone wanting to know how and where they can find talented, competent employees. And while most frequently the discussions are focused on the sales position, there is also a growing interest in hiring managers, production staff, client services, IT, data experts, marketing and quite frankly any job that that exists in the evolving Graphic Communications industry. What is especially interesting to me is that there is a convergence of challenges that are impacting companies that are seeking talented employees. As an industry, one of the greatest challenges we face is that we tend to not  be on the radar of large numbers of talented workers. And as an industry we will have to confront this challenge head on. But first some background information.


As advances in technology continue to drive the need for graphic communications companies to redefine their businesses, their strategic focus as well as their new revenue streams requires that new jobs be created and filled. These jobs, in many cases require skills, knowledge and expertise that we’ve not recruited for in the past. Furthermore the workforce as viewed generationally is also experiencing a significant transition; the Baby Boomer Generation is beginning to retire and taking with them a wide range of experience, competence and of course the job loyalty that they have always exhibited.

They are being replaced by the Gen X’s who add a high degree of entrepreneurialism as well as technological competence. However, the Gen X workers haven’t always demonstrated the same work ethic of their parents. There are far fewer Gen X’s in our population than Baby Boomers so the competition for the most talented is heating up as the economy begins to expand.

And now enter the Millennial generation; the largest generation in our population by far. This group is making its’ presence felt in many ways. Frequently they have been referred to as the “I” generation; just looking out for themselves - but they are actually highly motivated and passionate about bringing about change through innovation. They are environmentally conscious, impatient and technologically efficient. They are also quite interested in learning, self-improvement and want to be mentored. With the most recent economic decline and job shortages many Millennials were forced to settle on jobs that were really not what they were looking for; that means they are actually now searching for the jobs they preferred originally and doing so via social networking.

Leveraging the differences

Considering the differences between these generations, managing such a diverse group continues to test us. However, what is most interesting is the opportunity to align the strengths of the Gen X’s and Millennia’s to the growing need for the wide range of technology competences that graphic communications companies desperately need. Whether considering data analytics, social media, mobile communications or the myriad of IT skills required for digital applications, these two groups have certainly demonstrated a level of interest that typically does not exist within the Baby Boomer Generation. With the need for innovative thinking, the Millennia’s, as a generation, are poised for this challenge. It is up to the Baby Boomers and the Gen X’s that are controlling our companies to figure out how to leverage this extensive talent pool and align their skills, competencies, interests and work values with the transitioning Graphics Communication Industry.

Within the last few weeks I spoke to two different groups; one a recent group of high school graduates that were looking to enter the workforce as well as continuing their education. What was most concerning to me was when I talked about the Graphics Communications Industry and the employment opportunities they had no idea of the range of products, services and career opportunities within our industry. We weren’t even on their radar; even though they talked about graphic design, IT, data, social media, client services, and management. I also spoke to over 120 High School Educators focused on graphic arts education about the future in the Graphic Communications industry and too many of them really weren’t fully aware of the range of new careers that were being created within our evolving industry. So I walked away from these experiences concerned about how we are going to attract the most talented employees when they too frequently are not aware of what we do and the career opportunities that exist. So here are some of my thoughts and suggestions.

How Do We Attract the Talent?

We have to begin by first understanding what drives these generational groups. Learn what types of jobs they are looking for as well as what kind of work environment/company culture they are seeking. We must actively study the employment market; determine the appropriate balance between competitive compensation packages, the range of benefits (i.e. health insurance, 401K programs, tuition assistance) the degree of flexibility in the work day, more liberal vacation policies and the education, training and mentoring programs that will be provided. While many of the Millennials are looking for jobs with companies that offer global opportunities, studies have also shown that they prefer to work for companies with fewer than 500 employees and they want their work to align with their values.

If we want to attract them we will have go where they gather and educate them about our industry and the great career opportunities. That means we will need to leverage social media, mobile communications, and job fairs and carefully prepare a powerful story to tell. That means that we must define our brand and utilize cross media technologies aggressively to market to them. If we believe that talent can really make a difference in our future success than we will have to make attracting and recruiting a high priority; and invest the appropriate resources. As an industry that has not invested heavily in marketing, we must understand that in order to attract the Millennial generation, strategic marketing is essential; as an industry as well as individual companies.

If you would like more information about assessing the suitability of job seekers, please contact Jerry Scher at [email protected]. You can also learn more about Peak Focus and the Harrison Assessment Technology by watching an informative video at http://peakfocus.harrisonassessments.com/index.html

Stay tuned to this continual series – as we focus on the Why, What and How to build a team of talented employees.