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Hackathons And Competitions: How Companies Are Integrating With Millennials

November 2016


The topic of attracting young employees has been popular in the news and has employers mostly puzzled on what millennials really want. While some companies renovate their offices to make them feel more like college campuses, other employers are placing their focus on exposure to students before they make a decision to work anywhere.

While university recruiting has been around for quite some time, employers are stepping their game up by immersing students into their work environment and hosting competitions for students on their brand.

“I see companies treating recruitment as an investment rather than a purchase,” said Lukas Pesa, Founder of Lukas Pesa Consultation, a speaking and consultancy business helping companies trying to reach millennials. “Instead of waiting for an immediate need to hire someone before beginning the process of relationships building, companies are being more proactive in building relationships with potential candidates before there is a job available. This allows them to find more compatible candidates that are more likely to remain at the organization longer, reducing turnover costs.”

Inviting Students To The Company For Immersion

In his work with companies trying to relate to millennials, Pesa found that some companies are inviting students to speaking engagements at their offices.

“Instead of just giving a background of the industry and the company, companies are giving students practical exercises to work on that pertain to their specific industry and the jobs these millennials will have,” Pesa shares. “It allows companies to see which students are most compatible with their brand values.”

An example of this type of activity is when a tech company holds a hackathon. The host company stands to gain exposure to talented technical students and a jump-start on innovative ideas their employees don’t have time to tackle. Students, on the other hand, can get exposure to the company culture and opportunities that exist there. It makes recruiting far more integrated beyond stuffy interview questions.

Corporate Competitions In University

Another relatively new approach to integrating millennials into existing company brands is to hold student competitions. The L’Oreal Brandstorm Competition is a great example of how a competition opens the doors to the next generation of employees.

“The idea was to share our expertise and help students further develop both personal and professional skills throughout the competition,” said Carole Pasco–Domergue, Chief Marketing Officer for HR at L’Oreal, a beauty company. “Of course, Brandstorm has always been a key tool to spot our future talents from all around the globe.”

The competition created a win-win situation for both L’Oreal and the participating students. L’Oreal is able to have a front row seat to millennial talent, while partnering with them to continue innovating their brand.

“Brandstorm generates fresh perspectives and inspiration on the challenges our teams have to tackle every day,” shared Pasco-Domergue. “We almost see it as an incubator for talents and projects.”

Meanwhile, students are exposed to real-world projects and get an inside look at a potential employer.

“By joining us, students embark on a unique six month innovation journey that is maybe as valuable as a first professional experience,” continued Pasco-Domergue. “Every year over 200 students who have participated in the competition join us for internships, apprenticeships, or full-time positions.”

While L’Oreal’s competition is fairly unique to their company, there are other competitions, such as the Collegiate Effie, that operate in much the same fashion, but involves different companies and brands from year to year.

The Collegiate Effie brings together teams of students from different universities, allowing them to compete on a marketing brand challenge. The benefits to the students are the exposure to real world marketing projects and potential to present to company decision makers.

Companies have been offering their brands for the Collegiate Effie because they are given all-access exposure to millennial ideas, preferences, and innovation to their product. An unwritten byproduct of this is that there is a potential for unofficial brand ambassadors for their products as these students share about their projects on social media.

Companies, or particular product lines, that have participated in past years are Kleenex (Kimberly-Clark), V8 (Campbell’s Soup), Target, MINI USA, U by Kotex, and others.

These competitions and integration with a company or brand are in alignment with the millennial desire to have a voice and be included. They want to be a part of the conversation and these hackathons and competitions have given them that opportunity.

Millennials have done away with following tradition, in almost every arena of life. It’s no surprise that their approach to employers is nontraditional as well. Companies are adapting and finding creative ways to attract talent, while giving themselves the exposure to hand pick the best of the crop.




This article was written by Kaytie Zimmerman from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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