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Recruiting with a Mission-Driven Focus

With the difficulty in recruiting today, especially within the analytics and data science space, you need every advantage that you can get. As a result, focusing candidates on a mission-driven opportunity rather than on a task-focused job is an effective recruiting strategy. I’ll explain here what a mission-driven focus means in a recruiting context and why it is more important than ever.

Many People Today Are Looking for More Than a Paycheck

Today’s younger generation has a different outlook than those before them when it comes to job priorities. Right from the start of their career, many 20- and 30-somethings are looking for more than just monetary compensation. They also want to work for a company where they feel like there is an underlying mission that they can get behind. Interesting data, novel analytics, and a big paycheck still get attention, of course. But today, an equally important— if not more important— factor for many young candidates is to have a mission to accompany those other factors. Many older candidates have come around to this view as well.

The concept of a mission doesn’t have to be as grand as “we’re saving the world.” But it does need to be more than “help us maximize clicks.” When recruiting, you’ll have more success if you help candidates see how their work will help their community and make them feel like they are contributing something more than simply their time and effort during business hours.

The idea of mission-driven recruiting was roundly supported by a group of analytics executives in a recent private event I attended. In fact, multiple participants said that they have already been pivoting their positioning to a more mission-driven focus that will appeal to candidates, especially younger ones, for whom a mission is now a vital decision criterion.

Defining A Mission-Driven Focus

Luckily, I believe that many companies can explain what they do from more of a mission-driven lens than they currently do. With some thought, you can develop a mission-driven narrative about your company, as well as the analytics that your organization does. Recruiting is in large part a marketing effort; and as with any marketing effort, how your jobs are positioned and described can make a huge difference in how they are perceived. Let’s look at a few examples of classic task-focused descriptions of a job and how to refocus on a mission-driven description instead.

Example 1: An Agricultural Equipment Company

  • Task-focused description: You’ll analyze sensor data to optimize equipment operation. You’ll also work to operationalize image analytics to lower costs by enabling real-time targeting of water, pesticide, and herbicide as equipment moves through fields.
  • Mission-driven description: You’ll help us better feed a growing population by making fields more productive while simultaneously enabling decreased, more efficient use of pesticides and herbicides. You’ll also help optimize equipment operation to minimize fuel usage.

Example 2: An Electric Vehicle Company

  • Task-focused description: You’ll help to maximize battery charging and drawdown through a detailed analysis of sensor data from vehicle operations. You’ll also work on artificial intelligence models that identify various threats, obstacles, and objects that vehicles must react to.
  • Mission-driven description: You’ll help make self-driving electric vehicles a large-scale reality while also helping to maximize energy efficiency and reduce traditional fuel usage.

Example 3: A Restaurant Chain

  • Task-focused description: You’ll help to optimize our kitchen processes to get food out faster. You’ll also help to analyze the performance of menu items so that we can invest in the right items. Last, you’ll examine alternative food packaging options to reduce costs.
  • Mission-driven description: You’ll help us to streamline delivery of the food people want, while working to find more environmentally friendly packaging that we can adopt. This will enable us to provide families with a healthy, fast meal that they can enjoy together.

Mission-Driven Is A Mindset, Not Just Semantics

The negative way to look at the above examples is to say that the mission-driven descriptions are “just spin.” However, I would argue that shifting these descriptions goes well beyond spin. It is commonly accepted that one’s attitude and outlook significantly impact one’s happiness. If an organization can embrace a more positive mission-driven vision and focus its employees on it every day, that positive energy will be contagious. When a candidate comes in for an interview, they’ll see that people aren’t just reciting the words, but that they are truly excited to pursue the mission they’re describing.

I would hold up Chick-fil-A as a premier example of this concept. They have been successful because their employees are consistently more friendly and efficient than the competition. This is no accident, as Chick-fil-A focuses heavily on customer experience and not just getting food out fast. The Chick-fil-A experience is better than most fast food experiences because the employees’ intentional focus on, and belief in, their mission is contagious and visible.

Most organizations can offer candidates a much more compelling mission-driven vision than they do today. Focusing more on a mission will help make current employees more engaged while enabling the company to appeal better to potential hires, especially younger ones, for whom a mission is important. You’ve got nothing to lose - and a lot to gain - by changing how you think about, and market, your job opportunities to take on more of a mission-driven focus.

Originally published by the International Institute for Analytics