One of the most common laments I hear from business people is, "We need to start attracting more young people to our 'Un-Sexy' industry!" They are spot on! So, where do we start?

As a former owner of three businesses and in my current position as an executive recruiter in the Building Materials industry, I have had to confront this conundrum almost daily. Here is what I’ve learned.

Careers are not what every young person is looking for, but the smart, well-educated kids with good social and communication skills are looking to find a position with a solid company that presents future advancement potential. As a recruiter, I learned quickly to ask an employer to detail a realistic “Career Path” for potential employees. I was amazed by the silence that greeted that question more times than not and how many managers never considered the value in communicating that pathway, especially, to young candidates.

So, here is how to make an entry level position a little more "Sexy." For those smart, outgoing kids that you "know" have potential to become a valuable asset to your company’s bottom line over the years, sell them on the future! Show them their potential career path on paper; like a road map.

AAA Lumber Distributing - "So, here is the potential Career Path for you. We’ll start you out in the yard for a bit so you can learn the products and how we do things. Then you will move to inside sales. The next step would be to Outside Product Specialist and then to Territory Manager. The next move would be to Regional Sales Manager and eventually, VP of Sales."
Most talented kids understand that they can’t start at the top. They are prepared to start near the bottom if they are presented with a clear pathway and the expectations that need to be met for advancement over time. 

Communicating a Career Path is not just for kids. We are conducting several "Succession Plan Staffing" consultations. We deal with upper management candidates who will often accept a lateral position or salary move if they clearly understand that they are an important part of a comprehensive Succession Planning Event. Their “Career Path” has been precisely communicated and they become comfortable about making the move. For example, you have increased your chances of landing a highly successful Sales Manager who otherwise was looking for his next move to be into a “V” or “C” level role with a competitor.
After all is said and done, the talented folks you attract to your company will make the present more profitable and your future more certain. 

Bob King is the co-founder of Coastal Forest Products, Edge Building Products, Sensibuilt Building Products, and is a past board member of NAWLA. He is currently an executive recruiter and succession plan staffing Consultant at SnapDragon Associates in Bedford, N.H.

E-mail him here.