For years, companies have labeled Millennials as entitled and narcissistic. But as savvy employers can tell you, this simply isn’t true.
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Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are just different. As a generation, they’re more confident, tech savvy, optimistic, and connected than previous generations. But they also differ in what they want, the skills they bring to the table, and how they communicate. While some companies are slowly adapting their recruiting methods to appeal to this new generation of employees, others refuse to change. Those companies that are slow to adapt may ultimately hurt their own bottom line—especially since Millennials will represent 40 percent of the workforce by 2020.
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Like the generations that preceded them, Millennials were told hard work in school could help ensure a good job after graduation. When the Great Recession hit (2007-2009), many Millennials were just entering the job market. But their hard work didn’t translate into good jobs. In 2007, the national unemployment rate was at 5 percent, but by October 2009, it reached a high of 10 percent. The Pew Research Center found that the recession hit Millennials the hardest: They were the last to be hired and first to be fired. In addition, Millennials entered the job market with astronomical amounts of student loan debt. In fact, Millennials carry more debt than any previous generation. It’s no wonder that with this unprecedented burden, it often takes a lot more than a decent paycheck to attract Millennials.
To recruit young talent, companies need to educate themselves on what makes Millennials tick and how this generation chooses which companies to work for.
Social and Tech Savvy
As the Pew Research Center notes, Millennials are the first generation considered digital natives: As a whole, they don’t have to adapt to new technologies. This means they’re quick to make use of the latest and best technology and digital networks. But they also get increasingly frustrated when companies and employers don’t utilize new tools effectively, and instead hold on to archaic methods of accomplishing tasks. A lack of technology can deter a recruit before you even get them in the door. To make the best first impression on Gen. Y, make sure to take the following steps:
Maintain an updated website
One of the first things a potential recruit will do is Google your company; a terrible website creates a poor first impression. Whether a company site uses a clunky interface or Comic Sans, Millennials aren’t forgiving of bad or outdated website design. Armed with this knowledge, a good UX designer can go a long way in the first steps to recruit top talent. Your site should be easy to navigate and mobile friendly. If you have posts that are time-stamped (like a blog), make sure they are up-to-date. It doesn’t look good to have a blog page with the most recent post from more than a year ago.
Create an engaging online presence
Millennials live on social networks. More than 81 percent of Millennials are on Facebook, and over half are on Instagram, a number that continues to grow. Although Facebook remains the dominant social network, it pays to be active on other social sites too: 52 percent of online adults use two or more social networks. But, just like your company website, employers need to ensure these social sites are used regularly and properly. Twitter won’t help you recruit talent unless you tweet interesting, relevant content and engage with people. If people tweet at you asking a question about your company, respond in a timely fashion. If someone wants to know about your company’s environment, Instagram a photo. These platforms excel at connecting people, so take advantage and get social. A meaningful online presence is one of the best ways to recruit new talent.
Stay on top of new technologies
In college, Gen. Y had the tools to complete tasks in a speedy and efficient way. What some may label as laziness, Millennials may view as efficiency. Stepping from a high-tech college environment into an office that still relies on a paper filing system could be viewed as a step backward. If your company does not adapt to new technologies and clings to inefficient methods, recruits may run the other way. Based on your budget, resources, and field, see where you can best invest in technology.
Like previous generations, Millennials seek careers that offer growth opportunities. In a study by PwC, 52 percent of Gen Y said good opportunities for career progression made an employer attractive. But growth can translate to multiple meanings for this generation. Millennials want to grow their skills and careers, and they want assurances that their employers will help them meet these goals. Companies should keep the following in mind when planning work paths for Millennials:
Provide opportunities to learn and grow
Millennials are willing and eager to work hard, but they want to join a company where they’ll be valued and can grow. This generation has the drive to be successful, but sometimes needs a bit of help figuring out where to put all that energy. Companies can attract Millennials by creating a structure where they can transition to new jobs internally or have rotational assignments. This will not only help Millennials strengthen their skillsets, but also help them discover their passions. Discounted classes and continued job training are other ways to attract a generation of people who like to be challenged.
Offer internships and mentorships
Companies can ensure greater success in recruiting top talent by forming relationships with potential hires before they’re on the job market. Both internship or mentorship programs help a candidate grow and give an employer the chance to sell their company to future talent. But employers need to make sure internships don’t turn into grunt work jobs, which may bore potential Millennial hires. Rather, they should be challenging experiences that keep Gen Yers interested and engaged.
One of the top questions Millennials ask when searching for a job is
about company culture. Unlike previous generations, Millennials actively seek companies that align with their personal values and have a company culture that appeals to them. In fact, PwC found that 59 percent of Millennials seek an employer whose corporate social responsibility values match theirs. To attract the best talent from Gen. Y, companies should consider the following and make the necessary changes:
Understand their value system
Millennials emphasize their values and how they relate to their workplace. Though Gen. Y is slower to get married and have kids than previous generations, Millennials are looking for companies that respect values surrounding families. The Pew Research Center found that being a good parent and having a successful marriage are top priorities for Millennials. Companies that offer maternity and paternity leave as well as other benefits surrounding the family will appeal to Gen. Y’s core value system. In addition, Pew found that helping others was the third major priority for Gen Yers. Similarly, the Intelligence Group found it’s a priority for 64 percent of Millennials to make the world a better place. Companies can focus on green efforts, offer employees paid days off to volunteer, or participate in humanitarian projects as a team to further increase appeal.
Foster a creative and collaborative work environment
Millennials are more interested in having a flexible job that allows them to work remotely than working at a swanky office (a reported 74 percent want a flexible schedule). It’s more important to this generation to be able to blend their personal and professional lives. That’s not to say a cool office won’t help, but it takes more than just a ping-pong table to attract top talent. In addition, companies should take note of how teams interact with one another – 88 percent of Millennials prefer a collaborative work environment to a competitive one. A space where employers interact in a significant way – without the pressure to work a traditional 9 to 5 day – will appeal to a generation who often questions traditional work methods.
By understanding Millennials and adjusting company image and culture to appeal to them, recruiters will be in a better position to capture top talent and grow their company’s workforce in a meaningful way. Millennials have the skills and passions that will help take companies to their next chapter.
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What can you do to recruit this generation?
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Terra Clarke Olsen is a writer and community manager. She is a member of GeekGirlCon’s Board of Directors, also serving as treasurer. Terra has a BA from UCLA and a MA from University of Toronto. Find her on Twitter.