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I recently had the pleasure of meeting (virtually) an extremely successful person in the male-dominated home improvement industry. Jen Silver is the president of Roofing Utah, Inc.

In this particular “boardroom,” we had a group of company owners, all specializing in sales to homeowners. As we went around the room asking about the biggest issue facing each company, virtually everyone mentioned the labor shortage – finding and retaining reliable installers, and other key associates. It was unanimous until Jen spoke. She taught all of us a valuable lesson about how she has a “cracked a market” that has helped her build a workforce for her growing company. And by the way, her advice applies to all businesses, not just the remodeling industry.

Jen hires millennials…defined as those born between 1982 and 2000, now ages 21 to 39. Jen’s staff of millennials range from age 23 to 31.

When we asked why millennials, her answer was simple, “Those are the people who are available to work, so why look elsewhere?!”

So, just hire who’s available? That’s perfectly logical, but if it were that simple, I’d end this post right here. While it’s not an impossible process, if you want to mirror her success, you need to peel back the onion and understand exactly what this entails. In other words, you need to understand the audience you’re going to be recruiting.

To begin, Jen, now 41, was the oldest child in her family, and at a young age, she noticed that even her parents treated her younger millennial sister differently. It wasn’t until years later that her observations of her family dynamics helped her better understand her primary target audience that led to her success in recruiting, training, and retaining her labor force. 

To successfully penetrate this massive audience of people who are looking for work, and since you’re probably not a millennial yourself, you need to understand what makes people in this age range tick. You need to adapt your thinking to this readily available market to leverage and maximize its potential. Afterall, the more you understand about the people you manage, the better you’ll be as a leader.

First, where to find them. They are big users of social media so that’s a start, but they don’t trust most companies and older adults. They do trust one another, so Jen’s main source of recruitment is done by millennials that are already on her team.

Most millennials are the children of baby boomers and early Gen Xers. So many of them come from families where they saw their parents work hard to make money and achieve success, mostly measured by possessions. However, they’ve seen that money doesn’t necessarily equate to happiness. Often, they’ve heard their parents say that if they had the opportunity to do things over again as far as working, they’d do it differently.

So, it’s important to understand that millennials are NOT motivated by money or even benefits. They ARE motivated by a company’s culture. They want to be part of an environment that is socially conscious and puts people above profits. Jen’s company is a big believer in giving back to the community. An example of this would be their upcoming awarding of a free roof to a military veteran.

Millennials need to feel connected. That’s reflected in their heavy reliance on social media and their phones. Some people think that’s a sign of laziness, but it’s not – it’s their need to feel this connectivity.

Jen has her physical office layout set up with people having their own individual modules. It is set up in a cluster, but despite this, she often finds people working together in the same office space, sometimes even at the same desk. She has no problem with this, as long as work is actually getting done. And that has a lot to do with the importance of setting standards and expectations, which I’ll touch on in the next posting.

The more Jen explained the dynamics of this often-understood audience, the more all on the call realized that there’s an entirely untapped pool of labor out there that can help meet our needs today and successfully grow our companies for the future.

More on this soon, but if you can’t wait, please reach out to me.