/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/275719_l_srgb_s_gl_415487.jpgSpring is approaching, a new batch of college grads will soon enter the workforce, and companies are trying to attract the best and brightest among them.

A recent study conducted by Collegefeed (as reported on the HBR Blog Network) found that 84 percent of companies understand the importance of college hiring, but 92 percent believe they have a “brand problem” that hinders their efforts to attract top talent. SAP falls into both of these categories; we want to attract top graduates, but we don’t necessarily know how. We’re a large, well-respected multinational, but we can’t figure out how to be “cool” with the kids.

Collegefeed also polled college students and recent grads about their employment preferences. Predictably, 40 percent named Google among the top 3 companies they want to work for, followed closely by Apple and Facebook. SAP didn’t crack the top 50.

But there’s a glimmer of hope. Eleven of the top 12 companies were technology firms, including IBM, Intel, and Cisco. While some well-known consumer brands like Coca Cola didn’t make the list at all, Qualcomm, Citrix, and Salesforce.com were in the top 50.

These results suggest that millennials are, in fact, willing and eager to work at enterprise tech companies, even if they don’t use their products on a daily basis. Millennials want to work for a company like SAP, but we haven’t gone far enough in amplifying our brand.  It’s not them, it’s us!

Luckily, Collegefeed’s study reveals a potential solution. The main way millennials hear about employers is from their friends – more than from job boards, social media, news, or a company’s products. Friends are millennials’ most essential and reliable authorities—and that means we, the young employees of SAP, need to be SAP’s biggest proponents.

I’ve seen this in action. On a recent visit to Madison Square Garden, where SAP’s sponsorship presence is extensive, my friend made the observation that she had never heard of SAP until I started working here. But now that she is forced to listen to my constant work-related chatter, she notices SAP’s name and logo everywhere—in the media, in advertisements, and, in this case, on the Knicks scoreboard. She now knows SAP, and can share our story with others.

I feel so lucky to have come across an internship at SAP as a recent Columbia J-School grad almost two years ago. Now that I’m here full time and working with a team I love, I want today’s recent graduates to aspire for SAP, rather than simply stumble upon it.

So, I call on my fellow SAP millennials to spread the word. Tell your friends about SAP. Talk about its awesome culture. (Delicious lunch! Flexible work schedules!) Talk about how SAP’s software impacts global commerce. (SAP helps brew 77 percent of the world’s beer, delivers 1.8 billion text messages per day!) Talk about the popular brands that run SAP. (Pinkberry, Nike, Apple, UnderArmour!) Talk about how we are helping improve people’s lives. (We partner with (RED) to fight AIDS, and support emerging entrepreneurs around the world!) Talk it up, and do so incessantly, even to the point of annoyance. Become that person who won’t shut up about SAP, and make everyone else think that their jobs are totally inferior.

And then our peers will want to work here too.

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  1. William Newman

    Millennials and Digital ON workers behind them are a different breed.  They work in swarming packs, blend work and family, and actively pursue outside interests.  So you need an neo-corporate environment where food, recreation and – yes – even lofts and showers are available for those workers either “couch jumping” or just getting started (or both).  Classical performance management MBOs need to be rethought, since collaboration is so much a part of their fiber it’s difficult to discern personal performance versus team performance.

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    1. Martin English

      William, Sarah,

      I  I’m a bit off the original topic, but the big learning from my experience as a ‘digital native’ (no matter how primitive – I’ve carried a pager or mobile phone and some kind of portable computer for work since the early 80’s)  is how little management understand about (let alone have any way of measuring) the effectiveness of the ‘Always ON’ – Despite their protestations, too many people see the presence of warm bodies as some sort of proxy for productivity.


      * If we can work when it’s best for us, then we will,

      * If we can work where it’s best for us, then we will,

      * 9 to 5 in the office is rarely the best time and place.

      HTH

      BTW, t’s not just Millenials… an old SAP Administrator / Developer saying that sums it up (think about the implications)

      “I’m not attending the 9AM meeting because I don’t work that late”

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  2. Jacob Schur

    Great post Sarah! I do think it is a SAP brand issue when it comes to attracting young talent. Admittedly, I had no idea what SAP was before taking courses in college and participating in SAP sponsored competitions. 

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