Swipe Right For A New Job

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Swipe Right For A New Job

Words by Mr Jonathan Openshaw

24 August 2016

How Snapchat and video games replaced the CV in Generation Z’s search for the next career.

Today’s millennial workforce is professionally promiscuous, and things look set to get even worse for employers once Generation Z – those born between 1990 and 1999 – hit the workplace. Described as Generation Snowflake by some unforgiving commentators, this delicate cohort will make up about 20 per cent of the talent pool by 2020.

Gen Z is anxious about the future and has lost faith in the ability of existing economic, social and political structures to provide them with a job for life or financial security. Specific triggers such as Brexit or the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence have introduced even more doubt, and we’re now facing a new normal where human resources (HR) is more about change management than talent development. How can your business keep up?

With online employer-rating services such as Glassdoor gaining traction, HR teams need to get on the front foot and operate a glass-walled policy themselves. After all, this is the generation that cut its teeth on open-sourced information, live streaming and radical transparency.

Barclays bank recently developed an online work experience simulator to give digitally savvy schoolchildren – and potential employees – access to its workplace. In the LifeSkills Pod, applicants are guided through a series of 10-minute tasks by a virtual colleague before being given tips on how to improve their skills. Digital agency 360i has gone one step further by recreating its office as an interactive website, allowing would-be employees to explore 14 departments manned by digital avatars of real staff members at work.

Many of us spend more waking hours with colleagues than we do with our partners, yet we’re far less picky when it comes to finding a professional match. Digital dating services such as Tinder and Grindr may have changed the way we look for love and lust, but could they do the same for our careers?

Online dating site eHarmony claims 75 per cent of people leave their job because they don’t get on with their boss, and it has launched workplace matchmaker Elevated Careers to tackle this disconnect. Based on employer-employee chemistry, it screens candidates on 28 metrics, including personal skills, company culture and personality matching.

JobSnap goes one step further by borrowing Tinder’s swipe interface to allow a generation that thinks with its thumbs to swipe right for a new career. Employers are getting on board, too, with San Francisco-based fashion brand Everlane now accepting Snapchat job applications so that prospective employees can create a visual story to convey how they might fit with the company.

Work and play: never the two should mix, right? Wrong. “Gamification” is one of the great buzzwords of the 21st century and is now changing the recruitment process, too. A mortarboard, gown and a PDF of your curriculum vitae are no longer the things you need to thrive in the modern workplace. Some employers, such as the publisher Penguin Random House, have removed degree requirements from their selection criteria altogether. In their place, many companies are introducing gamified recruitment processes, which are being developed to put an applicant’s technological savvy to the test.

CodeFights recently worked with Uber to create UberBot, an in-app challenge in which candidates are selected or eliminated based on their ability to solve problems more efficiently than a bot. The company claims clients experience a 10 per cent higher success rate between interview and hiring because of this vetting process. Financial services provider PricewaterhouseCoopers had a 190 per cent increase in applications after it launched Multipoly, an online game in which it asked applicants to solve real-world financial problems.

HR was built on compliance, record keeping and wage management, but it now needs to take a more human, individualistic approach in order to attract and retain talent. The tripartite system of education followed by work followed by retirement has been disrupted, and 60 per cent of Generation Z are now looking for in-house education from their employers, according to a global poll by Universum, while 63 per cent express a desire to learn entrepreneurial skills. Tech giant Sony launched First Flight last year to foster “intrapreneurship” in the company, by providing a crowdsourcing platform for employees’ personal projects to attract outside investment.

Having a positive impact is also important to 80 per cent of this new wave (compared with only 47 per cent of those already in work), according to Harris Poll, meaning that company passion projects could move from a nice-to-have to being a core HR function. In typical Silicon Valley-style, Airbnb’s chief human resources officer Mr Mark Levy changed his title to chief employee experience officer last year and, although that may trigger an inner cringe in the more cynical among us, it serves to highlight a shift that your business will also need to make if it’s to survive and thrive.

Illustrations by Mr Giordano Poloni