How to recruit the most succesful generation of our time

Millennials, the generation born between 1980 and 2000, are the first truly digital generation. Now aged roughly between 18 and 35, this generation makes up about a quarter of the UK population and is predicted to reach 17 million by 2019, making them the largest living generation (see the Inkling Report).

As a group of influencers and liberal thinkers, they were largely shaped by things such as the rise of global internet, smartphones and global terror attacks. They tend to be less interested in traditional values like marriage, religion and the political parties of yesteryear than their parents are.

Why are they so influential?

With trends among those aged 18-35 going towards childlessness and partnerships rather than marriages, they have a bigger disposable income than other age groups (although Generation Alpha, the children of millennials born between now and 2025, is predicted to be the wealthiest generation in history). Because of this, companies have been struggling to connect with this generation where traditional methods of advertising have proven ineffective at capturing their attention.

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If we are having to reassess how we approach selling breakfast cereals to millennials, why are companies not reassessing how they are recruiting them?

You only want the best and brightest to work for you. But you have struggled to attract the right talent recently. Or you are losing staff to competitors without being able to explain why. You and your recruitment team need to rethink your approach.

This is the generation of which only 1% report being swayed by traditional marketing techniques. An article about products and services aimed at millennials highlighted how marketing these to Gen Y needs to be completely re-thought. And in a similar vein, it made me think that the rule book might need to be completely re-written if you want to attract the right kind of highly educated, career-driven and politically progressive young techies to your company.

1. Traditional advertising of traditional perks doesn’t cut it

Millennials believe that advertising is all spin and not authentic. That’s why they use Tivo to skip commercials regularly and avoid banner advertisements on Facebook, YouTube and various news websites.

Similarly, they are unwilling to settle for mediocre jobs, and would rather keep looking until they find a job they are passionate about. Although they have a reputations as serial job-hoppers, they are actually far more loyal than they get credit for. As such they are drawn to companies that can offer long-term prospects in job adverts that stand out from the crowd.

In addition, 9-5 with no flexibility is not something that they are drawn to. They would much rather have modern perks like flexi-time where they can show up for work around noon but work late with international clients, or unusual perks and rewards that improve their work-life balance. (See also: Pawternity leave and unliminted holidays: unusual staff benefits we all need)

2. They rely on blogs for news and reviews

Many millennials rely mostly on blogs and personal reviews before they make a purchase, compared to TV news, magazines and books. They grew up with the knowledge than any information is only a Google search away. As such, not only is a bad review on your company only a click away (Glassdoor.co.uk anyone!?), any claims made around achievements, benefits or company connections and can be immediately verified.

Blogs are more authentic and millennials connect better with people than logos. In addition, blogs give you the opportunity to self-publish on topics of your choosing to showcase your company in the best possible light. So why not let your most creative or techy employees put their name and face to articles to give them a personal touch.

3. Authenticity is more important than content

Young people rank authenticity over content when consuming news. They first have to trust a company or news site before they even bother reading the content that they produce. What is behind your company’s name and logo? What values does your company stand for, and does your CEO actively live them?

It is also very important for companies to show that they are using their influence for good. Young people expect brands to give back to society. Companies that give back instead of just making a profit will rank way higher as a potential employer than a big but soul-less corporation.

4. Diversity in the workforce matters

Millennials have the largest proportion of LGBT and mixed race people of any generation. As an ethnically and racially diverse group that supports different life choices, progressive companies that have (and showcase!) diverse work forces and openly support minorities and LGBT causes will be far more appealing to them. So get involved, get sponsoring and openly supporting relevant causes!

5. They want jobs where they can help shape the future

Many millennials are interested in helping companies develop future products and services. In our society, companies usually create products and hope that their target market will consume them. But when it comes to millennials, they want to be more involved with how products and services get created. Companies that enable them to be part of the product development process, give them an influencial job role with responsibliity for client delivery or internal projects will be more successful.

What’s the take-away?

A far cry from the stereotype of the self-entitled “me, me, me” hipster, millennials are not only incredibly loyal, they want to make a difference. This is not the kind of generation happy to just do the regular 9-5 with a blank face in a cubicle and trudge home. They want to innovate and influence others.

So if you want to attract (and retain!) fresh talent you need to re-think traditional job roles, unenthusiastic and unoriginal recruiting methods and start thinking outside the box. Educated, smart and forward-thinking techies are not attracted to run-of-the-mill job adverts with lack lustre perks and regressive sounding job roles in a modern and fast-paced industry.

And maybe the dinosaur that signs off the marketing/recruitment budget in your company needs a little kicking too.

What do you think? How should we approach appealing to younger generations? Leave a comment below and subscribe for more!

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