Millennials’ Effect on Recruiting and Job Searching

Companies must learn how to adapt to the preferences of this generation when it comes to how they look for jobs and the means they use to gather information about a company.

BySusan Vitale, CMO, iCIMS

For many organizations that want to attract and retain top personnel talent, finding qualified Millennial generation candidates can be a challenge. Millennials are broadly defined as those adults who born during the years between the early 1980s to the early 1990s. Why should companies focus some of their efforts on this group? One reason is the large number of “passive” candidates out there. According to data from iCIMS, 83 percent of fully employed people self-classify as passive candidates for open positions. For many Millennials, they might always be on the lookout for a new opportunity, so companies that do the best job in making their workplace desirable often can attract the best passive candidates.

Are people in this age range desirable employees? While Millennials tend to stay at entry-level jobs only an average of two years, they do bring impressive skills to the table. Millennials also are considered the most diverse generation to date, which provides employers with a varied pool of workers. Millenials have been characterized as strong multi-taskers, which is an asset for many employers. No one competes with these people when it comes to updating a Facebook status while simultaneously Skyping with parents back home and downloading a movie from iTunes! Plus, they typically understand social media on a deeper level, and are able to provide keen insights to companies hoping to present engaging social content to the Millennial age group.

As a group, Millennials are known to be tech savvy and generally want to complete any electronic transactions quickly and efficiently. They have spent their formative years with electronic devices and generally are not receptive to companies that seem behind the times when it comes to social and mobile. The challenge for employers, therefore, is to learn how to adapt to the preferences of this generation when it comes to how they look for jobs and the means they use to gather information about a company while not completing turning the organization’s HR strategy on its head.

Consider a position such as an information engineer that is tasked with reviewing a company’s collected data and then pulling meaning from it that will affect the company’s marketing strategy or efficiency planning. Such positions often are ideally suited to Millennials, as they have experience with various data sources and the ability to see the broader trends within data.

While “branding” might be an overused term when it comes to marketing to consumers, the company’s brand toward prospective employees often is ignored. Companies should focus on building a persona that frames the company not just as a corporate monolith, but as a place where exciting innovation is occurring. Many Millennials also want to see the company’s practices detailed, such as if it is “green” or actively engaged in charitable causes. Opportunities for volunteerism also are appreciated. Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and other progressive technology policies are attractive, as they demonstrate the company understands how work and personal communication are blending together.

Build Your Employment Brand

In the eyes of some Millennials, companies that don’t actively maintain their Facebook or Twitter profiles begin to look un-reputable or at the very least “behind the times.” Building the brand for potential employees requires similar tactics to consumer branding, where smart companies will not just talk about their products or the latest sale. They try to start conversations that have some tangential relationship to the company’s products but are mainly ways to encourage two-way or group discourse. In other cases, the social content can explore how the company is part of a broader solution to a problem.

Some third-party vendors offer automation tools that allow HR and recruiters to “set it and forget it” for posting jobs to the company’s various social positions. Advanced vendors also will be able to provide robust reporting that can show how many candidates are coming through social media campaigns. Such reporting can stick some ROI numbers onto such social outreach, where the company can view the volume of candidates coming from social media recruiting, as well as demonstrate the cost savings associated with advertising jobs through social media versus using traditional headhunters or third-party job boards.

When Millennial prospects want to conduct research before an interview, they might put the interviewer’s name into their LinkedIn app and then browse the company’s Twitter feed. They are the “Yelp Generation” that utilizes crowdsourced opinions before making decisions. Millennials desire to read unfiltered information to understand what it’s really like working for a company.

When completing applications, many Millennials are put off by intricate Web forms that require 30 to 50 questions to be answered in order to be considered. Job applications that can pull in content from LinkedIn or other sources can save the applicant a considerable amount of time, especially if that candidate is applying via a handheld device or tablet. Some HR managers might be thinking, “We don’t want them to work here if they can’t take 25 minutes to apply.” While this sentiment is understandable, it’s not realistic. For example, Enterprise Rent-A-Car runs a management training program that pulls 80 percent of its hires from college recruiting. Many companies need this crop of talent in order to have a culture of enthusiasm and forward thinking.

Tell Your Story

To build an “employment brand” that will appeal to Millennials, firms need to focus on content that tells a story. What’s it like working for the company? Video content is especially effective, with the focus perhaps on a “day in the life” at the firm, or even a casual interview with the CEO that focuses on broader goals, not the latest quarterly numbers.

Companies need to ensure their employment-related sites are optimized for smart phones and tablets. If potential applicants receive an e-mail about a position, they should be able to click through on their phone and complete the application process. The actual interview process also is changing, with some companies conducting Skype interviews, which are especially valuable when talking to recent college graduates who might not be able to attend interviews due to their studies or financial constraints.

Attracting quality Millennial applicants also can be done through Twitter. The Twittersphere is a good audience to promote the employment brand, not just to post a few lines about the latest job opening. Recruiters can use it as a sourcing tool to find candidates who might not be actively looking for a job, but based upon their Twitter actions or follower base, they look like a good fit.

That said, social and mobile are not tools used solely by Millennials. Consider how many grandmas use Facebook to keep in touch with their families. People of all ages are sharing millions of photos and video clips every day through their phone. These technologies now are a part of everyday life. Companies that implement best practices to attract Millennials also are improving their competitive edge and ability to embrace change and new technologies.

Susan Vitale is CMO of iCIMS, a provider of talent acquisition software solutions for growing businesses. For more information, visit www.icims.com.

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