H&M makes a new play for millennial talent

The Swedish fashion giant H&M just launched their first national recruiting campaign in an effort to hire thousands of new employees to support massive US growth. Their target? Millennials. And to appeal to Gen Y talent, they’re leading with the perks — and the long-term career opportunities.

“We really felt the need to reach millennials,” Jennifer Ward, H&M’s US director of public relations, tells Business Insider.

The “Place of Possible” campaign, which includes video testimonials from current employees, billboards, mall advertising, and displays in all of the 363 current US stores (61 new US stores are slated to open this year), emphasizes benefits like “employee freedom, sick time, and vacation perks,” reports USA Today. “Five weeks of vacation is possible” reads one of the billboards. “Making sustainability fashionable is possible,” says another.

On recruitment videos — unscripted montages of employee experiences — workers stress the opportunity to be an individual. “H&M doesn’t make you feel like you have to pretend or be somebody else or put on a mask,” an employee tells the camera.

H&m hiring campaignRachel Sugar/Business InsiderA sign in a Manhattan H&M store.

Though the pay is still “a highlight,” notes USA Today (the average US full-time sales associate makes $US12.03 an hour, and H&M North American President Daniel Kulle says the company has always paid above minimum wage), the campaign is focused elsewhere — a move consistent with appealing to millennial sensibilities. Research has repeatedly shown that millennials prioritise flexibility, social responsibility, and personal fulfillment over straight salary.

For now, the company says they’re focused primarily on hiring “sales advisors,” but — in keeping with their bid for millennial talent — they’re selling the possibility of long-term careers with the brand.

H&m hiring campaignRachel Sugar/Business InsiderA sign in a Manhattan H&M store.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Kulle, who started as a store manager himself, noted that the company has a track record of people working their way up from sales roles to executive positions. “One-third of the people I’m working with,” he said, “are coming from the stores.”

While that’s consistent with millennial priorities, it’s also just good business, Bill Thorne, senior vice president at the National Retail Federation told USA Today. “It is not in the retailers’ best interest to provide a job that somebody gets into and realises, well there’s another opportunity literally two blocks away where I can make more money, get better benefits and maybe advance faster,” he said.

So if you’ve been angling for a job at H&M, now is your chance. And if you’re currently in college, so much the better — they will kick off a campus recruitment tour this September.

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