As one of the youngest and fastest-growing companies on the 2020 Young Professionals Attraction Index (YPAI), Swedish green battery pioneers Northvolt face an almost unique challenge in getting the right blend of youth and experience to super-charge their progress.
Many of the companies listed among the best employers in the latest YPAI report are ones that have built strong employer brands over decades or even centuries, but that’s not possible for a firm that was only founded in 2016.
Founded that year with the stated aim of developing the world’s greenest battery, Northvolt shot in at number 11 on this year’s YPAI list of Sweden’s 100 most attractive employers, indicating that young professionals in a wide range of fields believe in both their mission and how they plan to achieve it.
“We need to find both the senior experts and the young talents that can follow their lead to build up our organisation. We headhunt the absolute best people in the world to get the senior competence we need and then we complement that with young professionals. Most of them come from technical backgrounds or are engineers, but we also need the best purchasers, financial controllers, salespeople, HR and legal executives so we can keep on developing.”
Katarina Borstedt, Head of growth
Northvolt’s position as one of the prime movers in combating climate change is something of a unique selling point that appeals to young professionals from Sweden and beyond.
“We are an extremely values-driven company,” explains Katarina. “The reason for our existence is very clear to everyone that works here – to deal with climate change. We are contributing to the recalibration of the entire automotive industry, and everyone that comes to us is driven by a desire to genuinely change society.”
The YPAI 2020 results show that almost 50 percent of young professionals in Sweden are looking for good opportunities to develop. In Northvolt’s experience, they are in a hurry to bring about the positive change that is needed if the challenges facing the climate are to be met.
“Young professionals who come to us expect great development opportunities that they can quickly benefit from. They want to be involved from the very beginning and take on big responsibilities,” Katarina adds. We are looking for people who aren’t fearful of the fact that we are still building, who are prepared to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in. The incredibly clear goal that influences everything we do combined with the exciting growth journey is our essential pitch to young professionals."
To ensure they deliver on that promise, the senior leaders recruited from all over the world take a leading role in creating a climate for development at Northvolt.
“The managers are central. They have to be present – when you work for us you have to have a manager who understands what you need and knows how to support you. We don’t want to build an administrative monster, we want to keep that feeling of being a start-up.”
Perhaps understandably for a star-up that wants to stick out, Northvolt choose a different path when it comes to finding the young professionals they need.
“We don’t turn up at employment fairs or that kind of thing, although we might do so in the future. Instead, we talk about our ambitions and our values in different forums. We have a summer internship program that our managers have a lot of input into. When we recruit our interns, we have a solid on-boarding process and a buddy system so that the intern feels involved, even if the immediate manager goes on vacation,” Katarina explains.
Regardless of whether applicants are successful or not, Katarina believes that the recruitment process itself is a key part of spreading the word about Northvolt.
“Sometimes when interviewing we meet candidates that are absolutely perfect for us, but just not right now. When people take part in a recruitment process with us, we want them to understand exactly how incredibly driven we are by our values. They should want to be super-excited about the possibility of working with us.”
Young professionals are a target group that wants to take part and influence things, to contribute with something meaningful in their work. Additionally, in the last two years we have seen an increased engagement in the climate issue from this group. Northvolt has a clear mission and strong values that they communicate via social media where this group can be found.
They have also understood the value of good ambassadors and the advantages of working with a summer internship program as a way of marketing themselves to young professionals entering the labor market.
They have a diverse workforce due mostly to broadening their horizons and recruiting experts from all over the world – we know from the results of YPAI 2020 that this is something that is valued by young professionals. To grow and develop as a company or organization, it is vital to attract the employees of the future – young professionals. Northvolt does an awful lot right when it comes to attracting that target group and many other companies can look to them for inspiration.