“Remember, children are our future…and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
– Steve Rosenfield, Comedian
It’s a sellers’ market for fresh technology talent. There was a time that the lowest of lowest entry-level positions was all that would be offered. That’s changed. Now being aware that their skills are in high demand, and knowing they can connect with people in many ways beyond just phone and email, today’s crew of young tech workers are more empowered than previous generations.
These Millennials (a.k.a. Generation Y), defined as people born anywhere from 1980 to 1999, have access to technology, communications, and publishing that simply wasn’t available decades ago. As a result, they have demands for career and lifestyle that are often different than older generations.
“Employers that better understand what motivates and retains Millennials will be able to secure the top talent, keep them happy and productive and also make sure they are not snatched up by competitors,” said Razor Suleman, founder and chairman of Achievers, in a report by Forbes.
While salary is important to Millennials, it’s often not the primary motivation (source: “Class of 2012” study by Achievers and Experience, Inc).
“Once a salary meets their basic needs, Millennials still desire progression and growth, along with challenging and interesting work that piques their interest,” said Suleman.
To find out what it takes to draw in this highly sought-after community, we asked recruiters and anyone hiring young talent what they believe are the “must-adopt” recruiting techniques for hiring Millennials. Here are our favorite responses:
TIP #1: Engage in social media.
“Engage with Millennials on the platform they use the most: social networks. By creating and maintaining Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ company profiles, you open the door to new potential employees by giving them an opportunity to easily get to know your company, its products, and services. Also, it provides them a way to interact and network with your company’s employees,” said Kat Krull (@Resunate), Associate Marketing Manager at Resunate.
Richard Dedor (@RichardDedor), Community Manager at VaynerMedia, said that they connect with candidates through “off-the-cuff conversations,” said Dedor. “You have to be there [in social media], and be responsive and engaging.”
TIP #2: Put a real name and face behind the corporate social media accounts
Tip #1 is a requirement for Millennial engagement. And with that requirement comes the need to engage with real people, not corporate identities, said Paul McDonald (@BuildASignHires), Talent Acquisition Manager for BuildASign.com. “[For example,] if you have a corporate Twitter account for hiring, call out explicitly who those followers are interacting with. It makes for a more personal connection, which Millennials appreciate.”
McDonald probably knows what he’s talking about. In the two years he’s been with his firm, he says he’s hired more than 250 employees, most of them Millennials.
TIP #3: Have a “why”
This catch-all envelops an entire corporate brand, philosophy, and attitude toward staff and others that extends well beyond a paycheck. Ultimately, a Millennial wants to know why they should take this job. How will it help them with their overall goals?
“We found one of our best while he was still in university. Part of our offer to him was that we would help him network and move on if/when he outgrew us (advancement). We made it clear that our company helps people get jobs (social good). And we also made sure that we were working with cutting edge systems and software (training). These three combined far outweighed salary and perks at that time,” Sherratt said.
TIP #4: Make sure your website and social identities are up to date
One of the old maxims of job searching is “make sure your resume is up to date.” The same holds true for organizations looking to attract talent at any and all times. If your company plans to have a blog and be on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, then you need to keep them and your corporate website up to date.
“You don’t, as the employer, need to be everywhere they might expect, but at least show that you’re up to date and connected in their stream,” said Ian McAllister (@ianrmcallister), founder and professional CV writer at CV4.biz.
Nothing screams “we don’t care about our company” than a blog that hasn’t been updated in a year or a Twitter stream that doesn’t even have a personalized Twitter avatar. If you can’t demonstrate that you care, how can you expect a potential new employee to care?
TIP #5: Keep selling your company and follow up
“The old mantra that the company holds all the cards in the employment landscape is rapidly deteriorating,” said Samuel Barnes (@Samuel_Barnes), Director of Talent Acquisition for ZanderMax Technologies. “We now have a candidate-centric market on our hands, which means that companies must: sell Millennials on why they should join, what their career progression will be, and most importantly, translate how they’ll make an impact on not just the company, but the world.”
All of this company selling has to be done with rapid-fire communications. “Millennials have rarely faced delays in communication or the acquisition of information,” said Stacia Argoudelis (@staciargoudelis), Area Director of Academic Coaching Institute.
Adapt their communication style and respond quickly, or as Barnes warned, even an excellent employment opportunity can “slip through the cracks.”
TIP #6: Be respectful of all recruits, including the ones that didn’t make the cut
“It’s particularly important that you maintain good relationships with Millennial recruits – regardless of whether they get the job or not – as they’ll be the first to tell their friends and family about their experience. Make it a good one, and you can turn recruits into recruiters,” said McDonald of BuildASign.
In an experiment, Gerry Crispin (@gerrycrispin), Co-founder of CareerXroads Colloquium, applied for jobs at the 100 of the best companies to work for. Only 32 percent of the companies alerted him when the position was filled. That means 68 percent did nothing. “That’s a bad candidate experience,” said Crispin.
TIP #7: Recruiters should expect and prepare for repeat business from Millennials
Millennials are more project-oriented than they are company-loyal. If they lose interest on their current assignment, they’ll move on to something else. The frequency that Millennials change jobs is both a challenge and an opportunity for recruiters, explained Charles Caro, Executive Director at Rebounders United.
“Recruiters must use more inbound marketing techniques to build long-term relationships and relationship opportunities instead of more traditional outbound marketing techniques,” said Caro.
TIP #8: Build relationships with Millennials before they enter the market
“Identify the good technical students in their freshman and sophomore years and provide them with summer internships until they graduate,” advised Sandi St. John (@SandiStJohn), Director of Recruiting of Asynchrony Solutions, a division of Schafer. “You may have some additional training or ramp-up time but they will more than likely prefer to take a permanent job at a place they already know. Creating this up-front relationship will ‘secure’ a future hire.”
TIP #9: Live the company brand and culture
Regardless, whatever your company brand or culture is, you must “be honest and genuine about the employer brand that you present to them,” said Gaurav Shah (@gauravshah), Group MD & CEO of the DeGroup and CMD and CIO of IndiaSocial Fund. “If the employer doesn’t live up to those presented brand values, they just simply quit. Loyalty comes only with living by those brand promises.”
TIP #10: Show what it’s like to work in your office
Invite potential hires to spend time in your office: At Asynchrony, they invite potential candidates to spend anywhere from an hour to half a day just to sit with their developers. It gives them a good idea what the working environment is like, and gets them excited about working there, explained Asynchrony’s St. John.
Shoot a “day in the life” video of your office: Create something very professional like what Rackspace does or hand out Flip cams to hiring managers and ask them to shoot short videos of people doing their job.
A video acts as a first level filter, allowing candidates to pre-interview their potential employer, and that will either repel or attract potential hires to actually apply, said Will Staney (@willstaney), Director of Talent Acquisition for SuccessFactors.
The other bonus of shooting “day in the life” videos is that candidates who watch these videos are far more knowledgeable when they come in for an interview, Staney said. If you ask them what influenced them to apply for the job they often refer to the culture picture that was created by the videos.
TIP #11: Accept failure
Self-identified Millennial Richard Dedor of VaynerMedia said that it’s important to have “a culture where you absolutely believe and buy into the attitude that failure is okay, and we are going to try and try and try. It’s entrepreneurship and control of the future that my generation wants. Give it to them.”
At the Interop conference last year, I spoke with Google’s Vinton Cerf about Google’s culture of accepting failure.
TIP #12: Offer flexible work options
“Millennials don’t want to fit their lives into an inflexible job,” said Sara Sutton (@flexjobs), CEO of FlexJobs, “They’d much rather have the ability to blend their work and personal lives together in a way that makes sense for them.”
“Gen Y want to build parallel careers with flexibility to balance ‘the other things’ in their lives. In short, they want what their parents are just now achieving,” said Sahar Andrade (@SaharConsulting), Executive Director of Sahar Consulting.
TIP #13: Offer training in the “cool” offices
Since so much IT and development work is location agnostic (hence the popularity of telecommuting) it’s an attractive perk to send employees to the best company office locations for the first one to three months of the job.
“It’s like a ‘study abroad’ program for professionals,” explained Zachary Dearth (@BostonZachD), Recruiting Manager for Randstad Technologies who has found that pitching the ability to work from a client’s international location in Rome is helping to get some of the better talent on board.
TIP #14: Build a community
This last tip bookends the very first tip in this article – to actually engage on social channels like Facebook and Twitter. Once you’re comfortable with social engagement, the next big step is to create a community where those interested can have open and frank discussions in a comfortable online/offline space with hiring managers and employees.
“Participants can share applicable news, post openings, offer advice, make introductions, describe company culture, set expectations for the hiring process, and build credible relationships. Once these relationships are established, job seekers have the know-how to make better choices when applying – they have insight into the company and the role they’re applying for,” said Lauren Smith (@Ascendify), Director of Marketing for Ascendify.
CONCLUSION: Millenials want the same things as other generations, but prioritize differently
While we do talk about Millennials being unique and demanding more, overall they truly want the same things as previous generations, said Steve Guine (@SGHRC), Project Staffing Manager at SGHRC. They may just prioritize differently.
“While this group grew up during a time of almost unprecedented technological achievement,” said Guine, “I think what makes this group more special is the fact that they have watched their parents and loved ones in their careers as they grew up and internalized some valuable lessons. This generation will not be married to the firm, as with the previous workforce, but rather spend more time with their family or in pursuits which bring them personal satisfaction. This, I feel, is the reason work-life balance takes center stage, as opposed to money.”
Research for this article conducted by Joy Powers.