Interview: HR Director in mid-size full service shop

This is another interview from my trip to Chicago. This HR director was extremely helpful, and told us about what it’s really like to manage the infamous Millennials.


On Millennials in the workplace and the generation gap…

  • First, it’s important to know each Millennial is an individual and there are exceptions to generational trends. But the HR director challenges Millennials (new hires) to:
  • Not presuppose more than they really know.
  • Respect authority in the workplace; don’t think your judgment is the only one that counts.
  • Know that skills and knowledge of the industry are not a substitute for years of actual experience.
  • Be humble. In the past, interns were lucky to be in the office and willing to help on anything. Now they are too self-assured and act as if the agency is privileged to have them.
  • Pay attention to cues in the office that suggest certain expectations or protocol. Just because the culture is laid-back and open, doesn’t mean the employees don’t obey certain unwritten rules. For example, when an office door is closed, it means the person is requesting privacy, and should not be bothered unless the matter is urgent.

In an effort to meet Millennials’ need for more feedback, this agency has implemented a more frequent performance review schedule (every 3 months).

On the gap between education and the industry…

  • The burden for recruiting interns and filling openings falls on the agency’s HR department. Recruitment is only one part of the HR manager’s job, and is rarely the #1 priority. Educational institutions can make the recruiter’s job easier by referring good candidates.
  • If universities are serious about getting their graduates into agencies, they need to have an administrator act as an ambassador to the industry. Recruiters need someone to contact when they have openings and someone to act as a filter for student resumés and portfolios.
  • Some schools are easier to hire from than others. Graduates of VCU’s Brandcenter get jobs quickly because the administrators and the school focus on getting their students placed in the industry, and meet recruiters halfway.

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