Anne van Herwijnen and Sjoerd Kooistra, Partners at Berwick Partners The Netherlands, continue their discussion on challenges in attracting and retaining the talent of the future, from a candidate perspective. Should candidates utilise headhunters to take control in their career?
What role does purpose play for your candidates? And what does that mean for organisations?
Sjoerd Kooistra (SK): My experience with Generation X is that a strong motive of theirs is acquiring profit. With my generation, purpose is a somewhat larger factor. For organisations, stoically holding on to the way of Generation X may ensure that future leaders won’t see themselves working there. They will need to adapt.
Millennials appreciate autonomy and transparency in the broadest sense; in internal processes, the goal of the organisation, ‘how do we get there’ and what role a person plays in achieving it. Also, not having to keep secrets about salaries or bonuses.
My generation thinks as being a collective, despite their urge for autonomy. Achieving something together is important, as in ‘what is my goal within this company’, and then work towards achieving that. With regards to bonuses, maybe move away from them being dependent on how much someone brought in.
Anne van Herwijnen (AvH): I believe that Millennials are at least doing more of what they like, but there's still a difference between saying something and actually living up to it.
I believe that with regards to purpose and meaningfulness, that as a rule mainly between the ages of 35 and 45 these will play a role. Before that, there are too many other things to achieve, like getting married, having children, traveling to certain places, wanting to make a career. People are still prepared to conform to be successful. I do not have many practical examples of Millennials with purpose as their main incentive and the practical examples that I have are few.
How should employees take control in their career?
(SK): What I see as the pitfall of the Millennial is that they can not always bear the patience. It must always be fun and challenging. Generation X is much better able to persevere and say: ‘Okay, I'm going to do this for five years and I'm going to do this right, and then I'll look at a possible next step’.
Millennials say, as it were, after six months: ‘Now I want to make the next step’. But that is not realistic. It is very good that you are focused on your career, but you have to be realistic about the steps required before being able to move up. To reach the top you need a lot of painful moments. You learn the most by failing, and it is hard and it hurts and then you sit back and think: ‘My god, this is worthless’. Those that reach the top are those that can recover after those moments.
(AvH): If you have a plan for yourself, you automatically look up people who are in the same boat.
If you write down what the things are that you want in your future, you will automatically take steps towards achieving them.
If you do not make plans or set goals, then they will not happen either. However, there is no holy grail. I think taking on a coach or talking to people who objectively look at the situation you are in can really help. It is important to always ask for feedback and to have an attitude that you are constantly looking to improve and develop yourself.
What kind of guidance could a headhunter offer?
(SK): It remains an advisory role. Someone knows him-/herself best, knows his/her motivations best, what he/she gets energy from. Many that are occupied with their careers have a clearly set goal. What you can do as a headhunter is to make someone’s scope wider. There is more than that one thing they have set their eyes on. A headhunter knows a diversity of markets, organisations and sectors. If you mapped out a certain path, it may be difficult to look beyond that.
In the past, coaching was considered a dirty word. However, I think it can be of great added value as extra support to achieve your goals. My generation is much more open to it than the older ones that had the idea that they should do everything by themselves.
(AvH): Limited. Or a headhunter must also be trained as a coach. A headhunter can say from his/her own frame of reference what he/she has seen, and provide that. To be successful everyone needs guidance. That makes us better.
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