Using Social Media Tools To Bridge The Generation Gap

Nov 12, 2008

I recently had the opportunity to present to a rather large group of students in the Accenture Chicago office with a panel of some of the leadership at Accenture, including 4 Sr. Executives, 2 Sr. Managers, 1 Manager, and 2 Recruitment leads. The majority spoke on various topics about choosing a career path or how to know what you want to do at a young age. I had the opportunity to present on the topic of “building a personal brand” through the use of Social Media in the Business Environment.

I spent a good amount of time researching trends on how employers are increasing the use of social media in the recruitment process to source, qualify, and for some disqualify entry level employees. After presenting this to the group, the reaction was nothing short of phenomenal, and most surprising was the Accenture management reaction. The Accenture executives and managers used a great deal of the Q&A time to ask questions about the technology and how powerful it can be when leveraged in the workplace. I let the younger generation educate and answer some of the questions asked by the executives and mangers. This was an awesome experience, to see how excited the young students were to explain a foreign topic to an older generation.

The students were interested to hear how employers view the profiles and how often they do so. I explained that they should approach the use of social networks and other social media as building a brand name for themselves. I expressed the importance of keeping a professional image in virtual worlds to always keep and promote a positive “brand”.

The reaction from the students was very positive, and interactive, as they were already incredibly educated in these emerging technologies as functional users. The students were excited to be able to relate to a successful global leader of technological innovation in the realm of the “real world”. The reactions I got from the students upon the mention alone of Facebook, Second-Life, and Myspace instantly lit up their attention to the presentation. Over the past few days since the presentation I have received interesting questions via email from the students on topics of how to effectively use other forms of media like LinkedIn, which I referred to as the “Facebook” of the working professionals’ world. It was great to see proactive interest from these students and how they want to build larger networks in the professional arena at such a young age, still being 4-6 years away from joining the entry level workforce.

It was also interesting to see how they instantly felt part of the business world when I acknowledged the incredible value of the skills that they are acquiring through the use of social media, and how that most importantly they are already being recognized as being experts with skills in resourcefulness. The skills that social media foster have already evolved business in many areas outside of talent acquisition and recruiting research. I feel that this large population, the youth, is eager to learn how to promote themselves online and would greatly benefit from more education on how to effectively build a positive brand through social media to better themselves in the future. Equally important is the need to educate the older generations on these technologies and how they are rapidly changing the way we reach not only talent but also to potential customers and consumers.

Editor’s note: the corporate world is already starting to see a lot of this kind of “reverse mentorship” – where the younger generation is helping to mentor more experienced professionals on the importance of using and mastering social media tools for today’s business dealings. These kind of symbiotic relationships could certainly provide some unique recruiting situations by creating opportunities for young folks to instantly add value to their new organizations.