From the Desk (and Mind) of Marc Landsberg

How to Attract Millenial Talent

So much has been written about how to attract and retain millenial talent.

Well, as someone that’s taken that task head on for the past 2+ years building socialdeviant, I have learned a few lessons from the trenches.

1. There Is No Lifelong Employment. Talking to young talent about the future is as fruitful as talking to a rock about its lunch preference. For one, the question isn’t fair – who among us can really answer the question “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” No wonder blank stares, or at best made up responses, follow that question.

Lesson Learned – We love to talk about one year renewable contracts. We ask new deviants to focus on giving socialdeviant their best effort for one year, and if at the end of the year we still like each other and are learning and growing together, perhaps we’ll mutually sign up for another year (or more). The point here – make it mutual, don’t expect a long term commitment – and by relieving that pressure up front, you’re more likely to garner some longer-term loyalty. We totally understand that young talent has many choices – and we do our level best to ensure that their choice is to remain at socialdeviant.

2. Skills and Experiences, Not Titles and Roles. My fundamental belief is that life is about collecting skills and experiences, not titles and roles. There is no corporate ladder anymore – vertical career ascension is an anachronism. So, we always ask young talent about their interests, their passions – the things in this world that truly stimulate and motivate them. And then, we do our level best to find a match with our needs. And we promise them the chance to express their interests in the context of socialdeviant. To add new skills and tools to their toolkit, all the time.

Lesson Learned – We operationalize this via a skills survey/audit of all incoming deviants, and assign majors and minors based on their current skills and expressed interests. This enables us to consistently match passions with our needs, and gives everyone a chance to continually add the skills their seeking.

3. Left and Right Brain, Converged. Left and right brains are converging right before our eyes. The Hemingway of this generation will self-publish her books, manage her ecommerce portal and community, and syndicate her content via multiple channels. All seamlessly, because technology now enables that to happen. BUT – she’s still a writer, first and foremost. It’s too easy today to force talent into a box – you’re a planner, or a designer, or a coder, or whatever. The reality is simply this – today, young talent is all of the above, and more.

Lesson Learned – We have built a flat organizational model that enables deviants to express themselves in non-linear ways, taking on different roles on different projects, using their full brain – left and right sides – to its fullest extent on a daily basis. In this way, we get everyone’s best thinking, we allow people to challenge themselves, and above all, we deliver better work for clients as the technology-enabled and data-driven marketing world of today demands the convergence of left and right brained thinking at every turn.

4. Your Personal Ambition, Pursued Jointly. Everyone in the millenial generation has ambition and eveyrone has a “side” project, or three. I’d be shocked, and frankly a little disappointed, if this weren’t the case. The opportunity then is to fully acknowledge, fully embrace, and fully support this ambition in full view, with total transparency. We don’t want people furtively trolling around linkedin or taking too many dentist appointments, so they can find time to pursue their hobbies.

Lesson Learned – We embrace everyone’s personal hobby, together. We ask about it, support it, sometimes invest in it, and encourage that pursuit in full view of the work we do every day. When young talent is supported and encouraged, amazing things happen. Creativity sparks fly all over the place, and the halo benefits for the organization are impossible to ignore. And by treating everyone with respect, and as adults, the reciprocal benefit is that no-one takes advantage, but instead works doubly hard to ensure their over-delivering for socialdeviant. Think about it – when someone supports you, you want to do your level best for them, don’t you?

Bottom line – we are a young company, but an extremely purposeful one. We focus, we commit, we’re fully transparent, and above all, we treat all of our talent with respect, courtesy, and shared ambition for what’s possible. Personally, and professionally.


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