The Mark Zuckerbergs of the world have reinforced the fact that being young doesn’t preclude you from being a wildly successful entrepreneur. But youth does have its disadvantages.
Young entrepreneurs and CEOs might find themselves in seemingly awkward hiring or managing situations with older employees. Yet, working with people from different age groups and varied backgrounds can be critical to a company’s success. After all, your employees should, at least to some degree, represent your current and prospective customers.
If you’re a young entrepreneur -- and you need to hire employees -- here are five tips for getting people of all ages to want to work for you:
1. Gauge their comfort level.
In an interview setting, it’s actually easier than you think to spot someone who may be a bit uncomfortable with your young age. People who are stuck in their ways send an immediate red flag.
At Varsity Tutors, we are purposefully trying to do things very differently than other companies. We spend a lot of time trying to find out employees’ flexibility ranges and how sold they are on their previous employer’s ways of operating.
If they hold their current company on a pedestal, they might not be open to change. They’ll probably also be more likely to assume that a new way of doing things is due to the supposed inexperience of a young CEO. Our company would not be the right place for these people.
2. Help them understand your company and management style.
Most qualified applicants have looked at our “About Us” web page or watched our TV interviews. By doing so, they realize I am in my 20s. I tell prospective employees the story of how the tutoring service was founded while I was an undergrad in college more than six years ago.
It reinforces the entrepreneurial culture we have, and it tells our growth story while, weaving in my age. When I was younger, I used to mention the corporate experience I had since it instantly brought some credibility. Because of the success of our company, this is no longer necessary.
3. Show them you’re passionate.
If your vision and strategy are convincing, job applicants will want to work for your company. In interviews, I try to thoroughly describe my vision for Varsity Tutors and its competitive edge. People are either convinced or not. We need believers on board. Too many talented applicants want a promising position. Convincing skeptical people to join our team is not a high priority.
4. Reassure them of your company’s longevity.
When we were much smaller, many applicants would ask risk-related questions about our size and stability. Now our website and recognition clearly convey a larger company. We hardly ever get these questions anymore. If you have a great story, a convincing strategy, and a well-designed website that conveys credibility and trust, people generally won’t question you.
5. Be professional.
Act professionally to employees of all levels. When I first started the company at age 21, I certainly spoke a whole lot less about my personal life. For CEOs in their late teens and very early 20s, the focus should be your professional life. Mentioning a college party you went to will almost certainly diminish credibility. Once you’re out of college and living a more “grown up” life, your daily experiences won’t be all that different from your co-workers.
What’s your advice for fellow young bosses? Let us know in the comments section.