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Microsoft’s Attempt at GenY

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Hey, Genius.  We want you.  We know you’re genius in some way or another.  Whether you’re code crazy, binary brilliant or master of origami dollhouses, it’s all good by us.  So if you’re feeling genius at the moment, or just want to tale a cerebral siesta, come take a look around.  ((Retrieved from on July 16, 2008.))

Hat tip to Fistfull of Talent who’s Kris Dunn says:

Seen an Apple ad lately?  Then you know Microsoft is getting hammered in the branding business.  Just for the record, in those Apple ads, Apple is represented by the cool tech guy, Microsoft is the overweight, uncool guy who likes wearing a suit.  But you knew that – you’re sharp…

To it’s credit, Microsoft knows it has a problem and is taking steps to try and get the cool factor going again.

Here’s what I think Mircrosoft is doing wrong though.  Smart people are going to Google and Apple not because they are going where smart people are, but because this is where the market perceives all the cool work to be happening.  After all, stodgy operating systems and Microsoft Word is pretty dull.  The Hey Genius campaign doesn’t address the core problem of the employer brand – that they are seen as an old company with no interesting work for innovative young people.  For this campaign to work, they don’t need to acknowledge that there is a diversity of really smart young people around, but instead they need to show those young people why Microsoft is also cool.

Hear from a Program Manager, Software Development Engineer & Software Development Engineer in Test talk about their recent internships at Microsoft and the impact they’re now making on the company as full-time employees.  ((Ibid))

I mean seriously, Gen Y doesn’t care about the impact they make at the company.  They want broader opportunities – they dream of changing the world and having a global effect by creating things at work.  And within those broader opportunities, they want to have incredible learning experiences that propel them to new and better work, that is equally exciting and global.

The point being, if you need to revamp your employer brand, make sure you understand your audience.  I feel like in Microsoft’s case, this new take on the employer brand is inward looking, and still misdirected.

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3 responses to “Microsoft’s Attempt at GenY”

  1. Totally Consumed Avatar

    Well said, Dub! I wonder how the perception of being mammoth and un-hip is affecting Microsoft’s recruitment efforts, overall.

    It would be interesting to see a survey that lists the “top-ten companies I’d like to work for”, in order of preference, from today’s best-and-brightest in college.

  2. systematicHR Avatar

    I really did search high and low for things like “learning opportunities” and “exciting work” but found no mention of them. I didn’t actually look at the video, so I should have a disclaimer that I didn’t search the entire site. However, one should not have to search the entire site for the types of messages that a Gen Y would be interested in.

    Just today I decided to hit the forums, and they are disappointingly bare – a sign that the site is not attracting the masses they way they had planned.

    Interesting that you bring up the top-10 companies for the best up-and-comers right now. I wonder where the old brick and mortars like GE rank against Microsoft. After all, GE is seen as a place where innovation happens…

  3. Meg Bear Avatar

    “exciting work” is one of those things that makes me smirk internally. While I do agree this is important, I also agree 100% that this is a branding issue as much as a real one.

    Having the luxury of working on the “exciting new project” myself I am often amazed at what % of the work is “exciting” and what % of the work is really the same work you have always done. The key (to me) is connecting the value of the work with the marketplace as a whole. It is my belief that people who work for Apple and Google (and Oracle Fusion applications) know that people are excited and enthusiastic about what they deliver. That is what makes it exciting. Most engineers want their work to bring value to the customers, that’s where we get our job satisfaction.