MillenialsPoint Of View: Fostering talent for growth in public relations

Millennial. An overused buzzword, positive or negative depending on how you use it, coined to describe individuals born in 1982 through the early 2000s.

One year ago the Pew Research Center announced that the Millennial Generation surpassed Gen-Xers in the U.S. labor force. Why is this important? Because as many young professionals begin to shape and come into our careers, firms will be tasked with fostering the growth of this population to help sustain, grow and add value to their business.

And Millennials want to help (we really do).

A Working Relationship

Fostering new talent in a firm isn’t easy. It takes time, money, patience and trust from both sides. But it’s worth it. Developing a mentor relationship, and doing it right, builds equity both for participants as well as the firm as a whole.

When speaking with university students, individuals entering the workforce, or those advancing within their firms, I hear from them that mentoring is a high priority. They want to contribute to their firm, but also want to learn and have someone help them develop or grow their skill set.

Along with that, firms want talent with a positive attitude. They need to be assured their new hire is a “go-getter” versus “entitled.” Possibly my most over-used quote to date, “Never hesitate to show how hard you can work, the right people will always take notice,” still holds true.

But what else is essential to a healthy working relationship? Here are a few “Needs & Wants” from both sides.

What the Firm Provides

  • Challenging and fulfilling work – Engaged professionals want responsibility and welcome it as a new challenge. New employees need to feel they are actively contributing to client needs, not just fulfilling assignments senior account executives or VPs don’t want to do. Untapped knowledge needn’t go to waste.
  • Growth potential – Realistic growth potential within a firm is key to fostering and keeping talent. Millenials, as with older counterparts, are more likely to leave a firm if they feel there is no possibility of growth, no personal benefits, or prolonged complacency.
  • Expectations and follow-ups – Clear and concise expectations, and the evaluation of why they were or were not met, and the next steps to move forward are basic needs and practices for anyone within a firm, new or seasoned. We are in the business of communication.

What the Employee Provides

  • Willingness and resilience – Firms that decide to foster new talent look for employees willing to put in time and effort to grow their skills, as well as those who use negative outcomes in a productive manner, seeing constructive criticism for what it is and not as a personal attack.
  • Loyalty – New employees must show loyalty to their firm, whether expressed in the amount of hours put into a day or week, new business leads, or quality of work. Ask yourself, how am I giving back to my firm?
  • Communication – Speak up. Anyone in the industry will tell you that large projects or even day-to-day assignments fill up their to-do list pretty fast. Make it a point to touch base with your manager or group leader and let them know your expectations for them. Don’t be afraid to discuss your work goals. If you have put in the effort to build a strong relationship with your firm, they will talk to you as a peer.

The Takeaway

The above are a few insights as a young professional in the industry for four years. Wragg & Casas has helped me foster my professional growth, starting with internships in college. Today I am leading projects on major accounts. Feedback from management has been positive and encouraging.

As PR professionals, if we can set expectations and build communication plans for success for our clients, we can certainly do the same for the Millennial Generation.

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