The millennial generation is unlike any previous generation when it comes to hiring. Millennials, often considered to be people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, have grown up in an era where technology has become a part of virtually everything they do. From computers to smartphones and apps to search engines, millennial workers come with a strong need to be progressive in the tech realm, meaning recruiters and human resources professionals are going to need to keep up.
Because millennials tend to have a constant connection with technology, targeting them means going where they are. In the past, recruiters could post openings in newspaper classifieds, but by and large, millennials don't read newspapers. Instead, they get their news from online sources, including social media. They also turn to job board sites and online classified sites, such as Craigslist, to find work. This means that your recruiting strategy needs to include and heavily rely on digital sources to get applications flowing in. Thankfully, there are a number of job board sites that handle most of the heavy lifting for you these days.
Work From Home Opportunities
Another thing to consider when recruiting professionals in the millennial generation is whether or not the job can be completed remotely. Many top companies have been experimenting with the work-from-home concept for years with mixed results. Some have seen an uptick in productivity, while others have experienced losses in productivity. Various studies also show mixed results.
It should be mentioned, however, that not all jobs can successfully be completed from home, especially in a team setting. Regardless, many millennials expect the ability to work remotely these days, so that's something that your company will need to decide upon as an offering when recruiting younger workers.
Rolling Out Employee Development Opportunities
Previously, people came to work to do one clearly defined job, but today, workers are often pulled in different directions and are expected to fill many roles. As a result, millennials are increasingly expecting professional development programs in the workplace in order to wear multiple hats. This means that your recruiting strategy will need to focus on career development as well as the position that is to be filled. If you don't already have a development strategy in place, now would be a good time to create one so that you can advertise that as a perk.
Out of College or Out of Work?
There are typically two types of millennials that you'll want to target when recruiting: those who are recently out of college and those who are out of work. With the financial collapse of 2008, along with the continuing struggle to rebound from it, there are plenty of millennials who have been unemployed or underemployed for weeks, months, or even years. On the flipside, there are many millennials who have recently graduated from college and are looking for work. Your recruiting strategy needs to take these factors into account.
In the past, someone who had been unemployed for years may have been seen as a liability, but today, someone who has a gap in their employment history may have just been a victim of circumstances that affected, and continue to affect, hundreds of thousands of workers. Likewise, a millennial recently out of college should be given a second glance, even though there are more than enough out there looking for work. Don't limit your company's view or reach.
Making Way for Millennial Workers
One large mistake that companies make when it comes to millennial hiring is to push older workers out the door in order to make room for younger workers. This tactic has been used in virtually every industry across the board for centuries, but here's why it's a mistake: millennials are tech-savvy, and as the world becomes more tech-centric, millennials will eventually have their pick of companies.
If you phase out older workers with the expectation that the poor economy will have younger workers flocking to your company, you may be right in the short term. In the long run, however, you could be digging yourself a hole. For now, yes, there is a glut of millennials looking for work, but in the coming years, as the economy improves, these same professionals will likely jump ship. Then, you'll be left with an understaffed workforce, and you'll wish you had kept experienced workers on staff. Instead of pushing older workers out to make room for millennials, consider expanding instead.
The Millennial Mindset
Finally, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the millennial mindset before putting together a recruiting strategy. As mentioned, younger workers have grown up with on-demand technologies. Search engines have made finding information as easy as clicking a link, whereas in the past, you'd have to search through encyclopedias, dictionaries, library card catalogs, and so on to find the same information. This means that your business model may need to change slightly in order to attract and accommodate the digital generation.
Millennials often expect to be able to use and interact with tools on the job that provide this same on-demand access to information, and if you aren't able to provide such tools, you could be losing talented candidates to competitors. Of course, you shouldn't change a system that isn't broken, so don't try to be the next Google or Facebook in order to entertain the desires of younger workers. If your company's current tools get the job done in the most efficient and effective ways, there's no sense in spending valuable resources to "upgrade" tools just so that you can talk about these upgrades in your recruitment materials.
In the end, allow your company to be the brand that it is, state the truth, and don't be afraid to change if that's what it takes. Millennial workers will find it refreshing that your business is honest, and this will help you to find the right people who will remain loyal for years to come.
What steps can employers take to avoid generalizing and stereotyping millennials?
Andrew Rusnak is an author who writes on topics that include human resources development and recruiting strategies.