On today’s episode of The RecruitingDaily Podcast, we welcome Maurice Taylor, director of talent sourcing, recruitment marketing and diversity recruiting at Eli Lilly and Company, to speak on appealing to Gen Z and how to recruit emerging talent in a remote workplace.
Maurice and Eli Lilly are currently involved with Indyfluence, an organization that helps bring companies and interns together to showcase the Indianapolis experience. Last year, they pivoted to an all-virtual, 4-week program that has now placed almost 550 interns from 34 states, three countries and 100 different universities.
What are the big questions we answer today? What has Maurice learned about internships in a remote environment from both company and candidate perspectives? What is Gen Z currently looking for in terms of internship and early career? What do we need to communicate to candidates to pull them over the line?
There’s more, as always, but you must listen to learn. Please drop your thoughts in the comments.
Listening Time: 28 minutes
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Ladies and Gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you’re listening to the RecruitingDaily Podcast. Today we have on Maurice. He actually works for Lilly, but we’re going to be talking about a program that he works with called Indyfluence, and the topic today is actually really, really cool. Can’t wait for Maurice to schools us.
It’s appealing to Gen Z recruiting emerging talent in a remote work environment. And we’ve been living this dream nightmare for two years or so. So I can’t wait to get him to talk a little bit about it. Maurice, would you do us a favor, the audience a favor and introduce both yourself and either Lilly or Indyfluence?
Yeah, so I’ll do all three. How about that? I’m Maurice Taylor. I have been with Lilly for 22 years, and we’re headquartered in Indianapolis. About between 35,000, approximately 35,000 employees, and we just take great pride in Indianapolis, which leads to the reason that we are part of Indyfluence.
My responsibilities are recruitment sourcing, talent acquisition, so my primary day job is really trying to figure out ways to bring talent to Lilly, and in that, bring talent to Indianapolis.
And so a few years ago we had an opportunity to do Indyfluence with our interns. It was a consortium of companies located in central Indiana, or indeed what we refer to as Indianapolis. And so we had a chance to just really sell Indianapolis to this population, and we had great success. And then we tried to do it again last year, but we were faced with the pandemic. And the pandemic allowed, it didn’t allow us, but we were forced to try to be creative.
And when we connected with the other companies, we felt that we should continue to do in Indyfluence because we were going to still have interns representing each of our companies. And we wanted to continue to sell Indianapolis and sell our firms, and so we did it virtually last year. And so that allowed us to really do a great job for approximately 550 interns from 34 states, three countries and 100 different universities. [crosstalk 00:03:10] So that’s a little bit about Indyfluence.
Well, first of all, it’s such a great program, and I’m so glad that we’re talking about it. How was the experience? What did you learn from again, a remote environment? I’m sure you did internships. I did 11 internships when I was in school, so very familiar with the internship process. But what did you learn from your side of things, and what do you think that you learned from the student side?
Yeah, the biggest thing I think all employers learned is that you can actually make a virtual experience pretty effective. And so I think a lot of those learnings have actually encouraged a lot of strategy now about how do we hire people from this point on. So we learned that, that you can make a virtual experience really engaging.
The second thing that we learned is that the students that we brought in, the interns that we brought in, were still focused on career. They were still focused on having a career at these companies and actually seriously considering relocating to Indianapolis following the experience, and a good percentage of those students actually took jobs in a city that they had not even seen during their internship.
We also survey the participants, and participants report it an 8.38 out of 10 in terms of likelihood of accepting a job offer in Indianapolis after their Indyfluence experience. And so we thought that the education, the experiences we provided, and the connection we made with other competitors, actually, we compete for talent with the other companies that were involved, and all of that put together allowed us to be really successful and learn a ton from these students.
I love that. Let’s unpack a couple of things. What have you learned in your job and also through this process, what have you learned? So what are some of the learnings that you’ve come to with Gen Z in particular?
Yeah, it’s quite interesting because the technology piece is a bigger deal for people my age, generation X, than it is for, and actually I’m a little bit older than generation X to be honest with you, I’m a Baby Boomer. So I was trying to cheat there, but we actually learned that the technology piece was really less of an issue for them and more an issue for us, those who were very used to having an office, driving into the office every day, and things of that nature.
The other thing that we learned is that frequent interaction and engagement was paramount to the success of the program. And so in Indyfluence, the organizations that helped organize this provided a variety of programming events for the students. Some of those were very formal in nature. Some of those were around some of the diversity, equity, and inclusion discussions that were going on last summer.
And also many of those were focused around just giving back to the community. And those things were really important to students, those students who were here working and learning. And so by having those frequent touch ins, having an ability to have not only Lilly interns, but Lilly interns, with Roche interns, with our IU Health interns interact, we found it very valuable.
So I think moving forward, we will continue with this whole notion of Indyfluence although it may not be virtual in the future. It may be hybrid. We’ll have to determine what it will look like, but those were some of the things that we got out of it.
So the candidates change, obviously. The things that you and I probably would have been attracted to maybe in our first job or first couple of jobs, or even during an internship is the experience. What am I going to learn? Who’s my mentor? All that type stuff. So let’s bifurcate both the internship experience and also the early career. I want to kind of get in your head a little bit in terms of what do you think, what’s attractive to them right now?
Yeah, that’s really good. Topics that were not even on my radar screen when I was coming from college.
You and me both.
And I’m African-American male and while my ethnicity is important to me, I just wanted a job. But now students, both diverse and non-diverse, and all students are diverse. Everyone’s diverse, but those who quote-unquote were majority, we found that all of them wanted to know what are our companies doing in the diversity, equity, and inclusion space.
And we thought that was quite interesting, not a surprise, but they all wanted to how our organizations give back to the community. And so we thought mostly not only do they want a job that pays well, they also wanted to know a little bit about the culture of Indianapolis and things of that nature.
And so the programming allow for those things, thank goodness that the organizers are a lot more astute than I am. And they prepared events and programs to meet the needs of the students and the interns who were here. And they did two or three events all around philanthropy. It was called Philanthropy Fridays where they would talk about their money and not-for-profit matches and planning and how to give and things of that nature. So the programming actually met the needs that we thought or that we anticipated the student had in terms of that.
Well, first of all, I love that. And again, to your point, these are not questions that I would have asked during this process, but I love… These are deeper questions. And again, you’re going to get around to comp. You’re going to get around to experience and internal mobility and some of that other stuff. You’re going to cover that, but that stuff straight out of the box, them asking about DNI, and it’s less academic, what I found. It’s more, what are your annual plans? What are your numbers?
What are you programmatically, what are you doing? Not so much do you care?
I can remember my mother telling me, make sure they have a 401(k) plan. Make sure they have a pension plan. Those are the things my mom would tell me about that.
And traditionally, just exposure to executives, we thought was critical and we gave them that exposure. I think that’s something that I would have wanted and they want it. So there are some traditional things. But, William, understand that we’re selling Indianapolis, right?
And I love Indianapolis, and I think it offers so much. When you’re coming from outside of Indiana, you have no clue. And it’s just your perception of what Indiana has to offer. And I think this program for those students who were out of state, those interns who were from out of state, or even out of the country, it actually gave us an opportunity to really sell Indianapolis and talk about home purchase that they would be able to engage with and have early in their career versus some folks living in high, expensive markets never ever having their own home until they’re 30 or 40 years old.
That’s right. Well, your dollar is going to go much further there than it would in San Francisco.
As a forward example. I love the idea because it was going to be the next question I ask and will ask is when selling Indiana, you’re selling all the cool things. And basically all the cool companies. It’s become quite the tech hub, and it’s kind of a lot of things going for it.
Again, if you hadn’t been there, you probably wouldn’t know that. But I wanted to ask, in a remote environment, again, both with interns and early stage career folks, because we’re dealing with Gen Z, you and I grew up in an era where we would sell the office or the culture or the perks, whatever that was. We’d do with the office tour. I wouldn’t say it was easy because you still had to sell. You still had to give people all of the insight into what was going on, but it’s different.
First of all, the candidates are different. So there’s that, and they’re going to ask different questions. But in a remote environment, outside of we’re selling Indianapolis, we’re selling all the cool things, cool companies, et cetera. What else have you found? What else have you found that you need to actually communicate to them to get them over the line?
Yeah. The one thing that I thought was quite interesting and I’ve participated in an interview very similar to this with one of our interns last year. And the one thing that she said is maybe I wasn’t in Indianapolis or I didn’t know much about Indianapolis, but the one thing that stood out to her were the people that she saw not only at Lilly, but when we did the sessions with the other interns and she got to see representatives from other employees. So you’re selling this notion of location, which is really important. But you’re also selling this notion of, if you worked here, you’d work with a person like Maurice or William.
And we can do that via Zoom or Teams or whatever the format is. And I think, while we’re in the Midwest and people are friendly and nice, the interns actually saw that they could actually work with some of the folks that they met and actually socialize with some of the folks via this virtual tool called the web, called Zoom or Teams.
And so I thought that was quite interesting that there was a lot of connection that took place virtually for those students. And it allowed them to really, really see themselves only working in this location, but working with the people. So that was fascinating. And you’ve been in the recruiting business for years and you know this, but there’s nothing that you can exchange for just genuine good people and good people and good, transparent people interaction.
Right. And that susses out, especially with Gen Z, they make those determinations pretty quick of authenticity.
They can snuff that-
Yes, I totally agree.
… out pretty quickly. You’re either authentic or you’re not. And they tend to make decisions really quickly.
So for you, and again, you’ve done internships for years, and so you’re going to have a really interesting perspective both in this 2020-2021 and then we’re looking at 2022 as well. How do you define a successful internship?
Yeah, it’s really for the companies involved, I’m not just speaking for Lilly.
Right, of course.
For the companies involved, you alluded to it earlier. This culture piece has been very important to students, and that they understand the culture of their organization and they understand the bigger mission. And so throughout the program, the Indyfluence program, as well as the interns that we have at Lilly, we have them try to understand that we have a deep culture with a long history of respect for people. And so we want to make sure that the interns understand that.
The second thing I would say, what makes a successful internship is giving them work. Giving the interns work where they feel like they’re adding value and making a difference. And so as we identify projects at our corporation, and I’m sure this is true for the other corporations, we make sure it’s not clerical or is not transactional. We actually make sure that their work is contributing to one of the goals of the organization. So the intern feels like the work that they do will have a long lasting impact in the department or group that they work with.
And to be perfectly honest with you, a lot of our internship projects that we’ve offered to students have remained within their organization and has changed the way we do work and the way we see things because it’s an opportunity to see, to get a fresh pair of eyes on some work that we’ve been doing here in the organization, or some new work that we are anticipating. So I would say that would be the second piece.
And then the third piece that makes us a successful internship is that were the student’s personal goals fulfilled during that time? Did they get a good feel of the city if that was a personal goal? Did they get a good feel of the company and the culture? Do they understand how business is done in our corporate world?
For some of these students, it may be their first internship. For others, it may be a second or third. William, you had 11, or I can’t even remember. But those are some of the things that make it a successful event.
And I’ll say lastly, them interacting with the other interns is super critical. And the fact that Indyfluence allows them not only to interact with Lilly interns but also interns from other corporations, because you never know, down the road, they may be out hanging out with those same interns that they are with.
Yeah, it’s another network opportunity. I think one of the things that I really keyed in on is the real work part, that I can legitimize, I think it’s probably even more true now than it was when I was doing internships. But you wanted to do something legit. Getting coffee, not legit.
I think that the things that try before you buy, that’s both ways, bi-directional. Right? So as an intern, you might think that you love something. For me, I thought I loved advertising. And then I went and interned in two advertising agencies to learn I don’t like advertising.
Same thing with PR, same story. So on some level, it’s a great way for them to prove to themselves, do I see myself? Do I see others that are like me? Is this something, is it compelling? All that type of stuff. Is this city compelling as a culture, all that stuff? And it’s also a great way for the company and all the companies in the program to also harvest talent.
Because you’re also trying them out as well to see, yeah, this person is really someone. We want to go ahead and put an offer in because this is somebody we want when they graduate. So both of those can be sorted, and as long as we all go in with our eyes wide open, then I think that we can check a lot of the boxes off for folks.
Yeah, I agree. And we actually tell that to the interns that this is not just us checking you out, but it’s you checking us out. And more than in the past, right?
Uh-huh (affirmative), that’s right.
We have to walk the talk and be great examples. And it’s going to be really interesting because we did hire, I think, several individuals who had never seen Indianapolis. I think it’s about 100.
All the companies, right, who had never seen Indianapolis. And so everything that we told them about Indy, everything that they saw in some of the events and workshops and programs, has to match up with once they got here and they took full time jobs.
And many of those that we met last year are now moving to Indianapolis and taking these full time jobs. But we have to sell our sales, our opportunities, our companies, because last time I read the paper, there’s a war for talent.
And you want to be advantaged. Because even if they don’t decide to come to Indianapolis or to Lilly or Anthem or Roche, they actually have to go back to their city or their university and talk about their experience. So they become brand ambassadors for these companies when they go back to their campus.
That’s right. Just like a customer experience, right?
If you’ve had a great customer experience at your local sushi restaurant, when someone asks you, you’re like, “Oh my God, this is fantastic.” Same thing with Indianapolis, same thing with Roche or Lilly, et cetera. But that’s predicated on you having a fantastic experience.
So let me ask you a couple of questions about, again, the appealing to this group of folks that are a little bit different than you and I, but maybe not as different as we think. Are they asking questions about… I mean, you and I talk a lot and probably listen and hear a lot about the hybrid work model and how flexibility is now our new middle name. Right?
And so are candidates are… Is Gen A, are they asking because I’ve gotten conflicting information here. iCIMS put out a study on the class of 2021, and one of the things that they learned high percentage of is they want to go into the office, and it was baffling for me because whatever I can do not to go into the office.
But they explained it. They explained the data and they explained this is their first job. They want to dress up. They want to go meet people. They want to go be social. They want to go meet their mentor. They want to go do all this stuff. They want to do it in person. And so the question, first question I have is are you fielding both from Indyfluence, but also from Lilly, are you fielding the remote, hybrid in-person, are you fielding those types of questions?
So clearly we’re getting the question more and more when we recruit. Is this position, would I have to relocate or should I relocate? I think that when I think about this group of folks, as well as the broader talent that we recruit, making a move to Indianapolis, it’s always a sale, but making sure they know they have long-term flexibility. Right?
So maybe they do want to live in Indianapolis today, but maybe five years from now because of parents or family, they want that flexibility. And so making sure that your company can articulate how you see those things-
I love that.
… is critically important because it might be beneficial for you to come to Indianapolis for your first two or three years, build a network, understand the city, and things of that nature. And then maybe at that next job or that next promotion, there may be more opportunity for you not to live here because you understand what goes on in headquarters and things of that nature. So I think it’s an ongoing question that we’ll have to address.
I always tell folks that I work with. I said, it’s a good thing for recruiting and it’s a bad thing for recruiting. Right? Because we’re going to lose more potentially, and we are going to hire more potentially.
That’s right. [crosstalk 00:25:58] Now you can recruit from all over the world.
And by the way, now they have opportunities all over the world. Great.
And sometimes if you think about diversity and equity and inclusion, sometimes because someone’s family structure or heritage or backgrounds, very close knit and family focused, they may not be willing to move until they can learn more about the geography that they’re going to.
And so companies being a little bit more flexible in allowing that is something that’s really important. And that brings me back to Indyfluence. We tried our best to show them from afar, what it would feel and look like if they were to eventually move Indianapolis, and so we tried to-
I love that.
Maurice, first of all, it’s just a fantastic program. I think it helps both community-wise, city-wise economic development, but also the collaboration. And we touched on it a couple of different ways, but the collaboration between a lot of these companies.
Instead of yes, you’re technically fighting for some of the same talent. Okay, fair enough. However, you’ve come together as a coalition to then say, “You know what, we’re better if we do this together.” Which I think is just genius.
And I’m sure there are other cities that are going to look at this as a model and say, “Yeah, we need to do this.”
So thank you so much, Maurice, for coming on the show and explaining this.
But also explaining what you’re seeing with Gen Z, which I think is really, it’s fluid. We’re going to learn a lot of things-
Yeah, it is fluid.
… but I really appreciate your time today.
I really appreciate your time. Thank you. And let’s stay in touch.
Absolutely, and thanks for everyone listening to the RecruitingDaily Podcast. Until next time.