We all know that attracting the next generation to a career in media sales is an ongoing challenge. But, how do you get individuals to want to come and work for you across all other industries?
For the last three (3) years I have been overseeing the P1 Futures Program which works directly with colleges and universities across the United States and teaches students about media sales. Each of these programs lasts 2-3 weeks long and at the end of the program, the students have the chance to network with active sellers and hiring managers within their community. The end goal, to get these students excited about the industry, specifically sales. It’s safe to say that I have learned a lot as I’ve had the chance to be in hundreds of classrooms to listen to students ask questions to industry professionals. Here’s what I’ve learned…
- Students don’t understand what sellers do. Some think that the job is making calls all day (or going door to door) while others believe we’re all playing golf and taking clients out for drinks or dinner. While, some of these tasks can be true, hiring managers really need to do a better job of painting the picture of what a day to day looks like in this position. What are the key responsibilities of this role, what is the company culture like, and will there be room for growth? These are the items that the next generations are looking at.
- Media companies need to be more involved in colleges/universities. College students and recent graduates are naturally curious as to which companies hire the most graduates for entry-level jobs and other career opportunities. The thought process is if they hired alumni, they’ll hire more. Getting your staff who attended that school to go meet with the students either on campus, at the local coffee shop, or over zoom shows the students that they could be like them one day. This also helps build brand loyalty amongst the students. To get started, connect with the professors or the career services team within these colleges to get the process going. Develop a recruitment plan on how and when you can go on campus to reach the students. The more involved you get, the more likely it is that they will want to continue that partnership with you to help make that hiring recommendation for the students.
- Students and alumni are seeking sales internship/mentorship programs. In every class, we visit the #1 question we get are do you have an internship program? Students are hungry to learn, and at the moment our industry is not providing them with enough internship opportunities to fill that need. We understand that this is not an easy fix. If you are unable to have an internship program, have you thought about a mentorship program? Something that could be more informal but give these students and alumni a chance to speak with your staff and learn about the company in hopes of recruiting them down the line. Again, the more you get involved with your local colleges/universities the better chances you will have that they will seek opportunities with you over either your competitor or other industries upon graduation. In fact, if you would like to start an internship program, check out our blog “Internship Best Practices for Employers” to start developing a plan for you and your company.
- There is a negative perception about media sales being only commission. With each class, we conduct a survey with the students to gauge their thoughts and perceptions about media sales. Our findings are that over 85% of students believe that media sales jobs are commission only. This is something that turns them off immediately as they want to have some guaranteed money coming out of college. They’re not always scared of commission, but they are seeking a base salary plan plus commission. We all know that sellers can make great money, but new sellers need to feel supported and given the time to develop a solid book of business before moving them 100% commission. While this trend is growing across the country, most companies are still holding on to the old way of paying sellers. This needs to change.
- Job titles do matter. More and more students tell us that they hate the word “sales” so make sure that you have a job title for your sales team that does not say that in the title if you want to attract them. Try something like “Media Consultant” or “Marketing Consultant” instead. According to a recent study by SHRM, job titles are very important to both millennials and Gen Z.
- How your company looks online matters. Students are tech savvy and they will do their research before they will send over their resumes. Do you have an up-to-date website? Do you have a career page that shows them your company culture and what it would be like to work for you? How about a recruitment video on your website? Do you have a representation on social media? Is it good or bad… or do you have one? These are things that the next generation will take a look at before applying to jobs. Make sure that what they see positively reflects who you are as a company.
Building your recruitment pipeline for the future is going to take time. But, by taking small steps towards your goal you will build the bench that you so desperately need for the future. Listen, we all know that the average media seller is nearing retirement. So now more than ever it is time to get out into the communities and start reaching out to the younger generation.
Need additional help with mentorship/internship programs? Login to your P1 Learning account and watch the courses, “Mentoring: How to Create a Mentorship Program“, “Mentoring: Matching Mentors and Mentees”, “Mentoring: Creating a Successful Mentoring Relationship”, and “Internship Best Practices”.
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