An Overlooked Talent Pool

As employers struggle to find candidates for open positions, a new series of public service announcements (PSAs) encourages companies to consider “opportunity youth”: unemployed young adults between the ages of 16 and 24.

Source: Highwaystarz-Photography / iStock / Getty

The PSA campaign is the work of Grads of Life, a national initiative to create pathways to employment for opportunity youth, in partnership with the Ad Council, a nonprofit organization that provides public service announcements, and 22squared, a leading advertising agency.

Changing Perceptions

The ads aim to shift employer perceptions of opportunity youth from social liabilities to economic assets, and help hiring professionals broaden and diversify their talent pools to include these young adults, many of whom are skilled and motivated. The campaign also strives to change perceptions of what talent looks like, while helping hiring companies develop talent pipelines.
The PSAs target HR managers and C-level executives, who are looking for skilled talent but are frustrated by a hiring process that often screens out qualified candidates.
Research indicates that two-thirds of employers have trouble finding qualified applicants. According to Grads for Life, this may be because companies rely on traditional educational accreditations, and are not thinking about who may be the best fit for the job.
This is such an important campaign because it reinforces the necessity of diversity in the workplace. And that means diversity of experience, background, and circumstance,” said Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “Everyone has something that they can bring to the table, and the employers who’ve worked with Grads of Life partners have seen real business benefits including increased retention and employee engagement.
“To date, more than 300 employers have already reached out to Grads of Life to partner with workforce training organizations to access skilled, resilient talent.”

About the Ads

The campaign, “More Than What’s on Paper,” is driven by the insight that hiring managers spend, on average, less than seven seconds reviewing a resume. Since opportunity youth do not have a traditional resume, the campaign is designed to show employers that these young adults’ life experiences have given them critical skills like drive and tenacity that are important in the workplace but difficult to convey on a traditional resume.
The body of work was created pro bono by Atlanta-based ad agency 22squared and includes five online videos, entitled “7 Second Resumes,” featuring real opportunity youth sharing powerful personal stories and articulating in seven seconds how their life experiences make them viable, valuable candidates. To impact the lives of opportunity youth beyond advertising efforts, “7 Second Resumes” announcements are available for opportunity youth to share on their LinkedIn profiles for employers to see. The plan is to continue to create more “7 Second Resumes” videos in the future.
The campaign also includes three other spots, “Don’t Skip This Talent,” “Mute” and “Hard to See.” “Don’t Skip This Talent” plays on the video SKIP pre-roll function, as an actor portraying a job candidate successfully convinces the interviewer to not skip over him just because he lacks a traditional resume. “Mute” shows an actor portraying a job candidate who, during a Skype interview, makes a compelling case for an interviewer to consider her. In “Hard to See,” an actor portraying an untraditional candidate tells an interviewer how his life experiences have shaped him into a uniquely qualified job candidate. As he speaks, his compelling story comes to life on screen through paper art, literally showcasing that he is more than what’s on paper. Print, radio, out-of-home (OOH) media, and digital elements complete the campaign, and all spots feature real opportunity youth.
“We’re honored to work with the Ad Council and Grads of Life to encourage employers to take the time to look beyond the resume, and recognize the life experience that uniquely shapes the skill set of each individual candidate,” said Ryan Stafford, creative director of 22squared.