Millennials in marketing: show me the creativity!

We have become used to the idea that employers may check our social profiles as part of the recruitment process. But candidates can check up on employers too.

For the millennial job-seeker, social media comes with a health warning that your personal profile can be (and most likely will be) examined by a potential employer.

Expect a few raised eyebrows at interview if you present yourself as an upright citizen but your facebook timeline is packed with the misadventures of a non-stop party animal. Claims of conquering Everest or conducting the London Philharmonic in your spare time may be applauded in the interview room and then quietly verified through a sweep of your pictures and posts.

The door swings both ways

So candidates need to be mindful of their social media activities. But what employers need to remember is that social media is a two-way street. Candidates can investigate them. In the digital world all parts of a company’s being are open to inspection.

Job applicants can assess any organisation by examining performance stats, opinions, forecasts and the social media activities of future colleagues. It’s all there – a boxed set of corporate triumphs, misdemeanours, praise and condemnation. As recruiters, companies are their own best or worst billboards.

There’s the money of course, but these days a competitive salary is a starting point for a much broader assessment of a company’s offer. The ‘whole package’ no longer means salary, pension and healthcare. There are a great many softer considerations which can be the difference between a candidate shaking hands or going elsewhere. What will I be doing and will I be motivated? Who will I be working for? Will I be proud to be part of this organisation?

People have always asked these questions, but now they are asking them louder and acting on the answers.

What will my employer do for me and what are they doing for society?

We recently looked at how these issues are playing out in the consumer products sector, where Unilever, P&G, Mondelez, Nestlé and Mars are fishing in the same talent pool. We created a sample of 200 marketing professionals and analysed how they talked about companies other than their own. Our aim was to identify which companies are front-of-mind and the reasons why an experienced marketing exec might consider working for them.

First up, let’s look at how the marketing community discusses the actions of companies they do not currently work for. At this stage, there are no indications as to the context of these conversations. The social media environment for marketing professionals is volatile and crowded. We simply want to know if a company is on the radar of young marketing execs employed elsewhere in the sector.


A dynamic culture

If we dig into the main themes of conversations, we start to find signals for the issues young marketing execs care about. Social discussion within the marketing community is driven by professional interest, competitiveness and above all a desire to keep up to date with innovation. Ethics are important, but admiration for new creative releases and innovative strategies is key.

Members of our study group are attracted to brands that are bold and dynamic. In the context of employer engagement, candidates like companies who support fresh ideas and creativity.


This interest splits into two elements; the quality of creative work and innovative use of technology and channels. A company demonstrating new ideas and approaches will stimulate more interest than a company associated with traditional marketing practices (even if the brands are very well-known). In short, brand behaviour attracts more admiration than brand power.


In our study group, ethical questions are clustered around marketing to minors and health. These issues are viewed as collective concerns. There is a low level of direct association with individual companies. But people do want clarity. There is more regard for companies with a visible and clearly-stated ethics policy, supported by evidence of implementation.


Leaders and mentors

On a personal level, leadership and mentoring are major considerations for young marketing professionals. They want to work with colleagues they respect and managers they can learn from.

Visible leaders engage the marketing community and create a new dimension of personal interest. The ability to personalise the marketing function makes companies more accessible and attractive. Unilever’s Keith Weed is a good example. Not everyone at Unilever gets to work for Keith directly, but he sets the bar for what new employees can expect in terms of company culture.


Recruitment is a company-wide responsibility

Young marketers are not asking for the moon. They have not created a set of new expectations which employers may struggle to interpret and fulfil. Certainly, the new generation of marketers want to feel good about their employer’s ethics, but their focus is on employers who are leaders in creativity and innovation.

For employers, their visibility to candidates means the process of attracting the very best talent does not start with a job ad. It doesn’t even start in the HR department. Recruitment is a 24 hours a day, year-round campaign involving every part of the organisation. 

Have your say