How Businesses Should Recruit Millennials

In my first post I discussed why millennials should embrace the entitled label often ascribed to them. The label is meant as a pejorative, but I argued a sense of entitlement is the natural end result of being the most educated generation in American history. While I feel it is necessary to defend my generation against many of the unfair labels placed on us and great arguments can be had on the positive and negative aspects of our generation; there are some practical consequences for business and organizations if they don’t adapt to changing attitudes regardless of the merits of those attitudes.

I have spent most of my time writing negatively about the intersection of Millennial expectations and the job market; but I think there are some positive takeaways for businesses looking to recruit new workers, which will benefit both employers and Millennials alike.

Here are ten ideas for recruiting millennials into your growing business:

1) The world has changed dramatically, even over the past decade. Embrace it. Technology now allows employees to work from anywhere and at all times. And believe it or not but the dirty little secret about Millennials is that we will in fact work from anywhere and at all times. Our noses are already in our phones, tablets and laptops 24/7, so getting that email or text from the boss at 3pm on a saturday is not much of a problem for younger workers anymore. Editing that article while on vacation is not as inconvenient as it once was.

But beware, just because Millennials are willing and able to work from anywhere and at anytime, does not give you the right to abuse your power. The privilege of expecting employees to always be on, should be met with equal deference to those employees in other areas.

2) Flexible Schedules, or what is sometimes referred to as alternative work schedules is also a product of our highly connected 21st century world. The traditional model of a nine-to-five Monday through Friday job is outdated, and many businesses and organizations have already thrown this model out the window. Introduce a new model; allow employees to work some days from home, or allow them to substitute working on Monday for Saturday. Introduce 11-7 workdays, or at least give this option to younger employees that don’t have kids back home to rush home to. These are just examples and there are dozens of other types of flexible arrangements that you, as an employer, should be looking to introduce to your company.

Remember, young workers may not bring these options up on their own out of deference because they are the newbies in the office, but you can be certain that they yearn for a flexible schedule and may bolt for a job that gives them the flexibility they crave if you don’t provide it.

3) Benefits are more important than salary for many Millennials who are entering the workforce. Millennials are increasingly opting to delay marriage and/or children until they are well into their thirties, which means their salary will mostly go towards themselves and paying off student loan debt. They are also practical and recognize that due to the great recession businesses and organizations are more constrained in the near term.

Make sure your business, non-profit organization, or government agency is offering comprehensive benefits and expanded benefits to younger employees as a replacement for lower salary.

4) Formality is dead, good riddance. While formal attire has its’ time and place and is not going anywhere entirely, there is a distinct attitude among Millennials that rejects formality as an institution in almost all walks of life. This is a generation that embraces individuality and diversity, and formality stymies these qualities. We used to think that uniformity equaled productivity but with the advent of web 2.0 and 3.0 and the democratization of the web through blogs and social media, we now know definitively that people can be productive even while sitting in their underwear at home. Creativity and innovation are spurred by informal and relaxed environments, make sure your business acts accordingly

5) Expand training/mentorship programs despite the fact that there is a high opportunity cost associated with these. Training/mentorship programs may be one of the areas that needs the most innovation in HR departments across businesses and governments alike. Millennials have grown up in a culture that embraced education, sometimes at the expense of experience so certain business specific skills that were not part of their formal education must be taught and instilled in younger workers.

Mentoring is better than training, because mentoring is naturally more informal than training. See #4

6) Don’t penalize inexperience because you’ll miss out on potential workers with a lot to offer. Millennials can’t necessarily be choosey in this economy, but since they are the most highly educated generation, they will embrace companies that embrace them and give them the opportunity. Don’t miss out on the opportunity of adding a highly educated member to your team because they temporary lack experience. Inexperience is a temporary weakness, not a reflection of the ability of a young person to do the job.

7) Allow for opportunities for promotion early on. We are an entitled generation that expects a lot in some areas but actually expects less in other areas. As mentioned before, we are probably more willing than any other generation to accept lower salaries in exchange for other benefits. One benefit is moving up quickly in the ranks and receiving more responsibility. We want to impact the world and we know the best way of doing that is by replacing the old guard in the workforce with new ideas and perspectives. And since we all have attention deficit disorder we don’t have the patience to wait decades to make our impact.

As a business or organization, you should be embracing this ambition and if you can’t offer high salaries, offer quick advancement through the ranks to compensate employees who work hard for you. This is a generation that doesn’t define success by the amount of money we have in the bank, but by the positive and wide reaching impact we have on the world.

8) Give them real work. When it comes to work, there are few things a person of my generation hates more than busywork. If hiring an intern, don’t make their primary responsibilities fetching coffee, printing documents, or data entry (otherwise known as “various administrative tasks” in job listings). While entering data is a legitimate task that everyone has to do at one point or another, there is no other surefire way to make your intern (or new employee) hate their job then by sitting them at a computer and handing them a stack of numbers to enter into a database or spreadsheet.

This common practice teaches them next to nothing about the industry/business the company specializes in, teaches them very little about the truly important day to day operations of the business, and perhaps most importantly dissuades them from ever being truly invested in your organization. You want to foster and cultivate the wide-eyed curiosity and excitement of young workers, not stymee it through data entry.

9) Go to where the millennials are, meaning if you don’t have robust social media presence then that’s probably a sign you need to be hiring a millennial. Probably one of the most effective ways of attracting young people is by blogging or microblogging. One of the hottest workplaces in America right now is with the Huffington Post and this is not by accident. They have pioneered a model of blogging that reaches and engages young people more than traditional news sources do.

Rule of thumb: There is always something to write about. Blogging or microblogging with frequent posts about the industry your business or organization belongs to is a good way of engaging potential employees. And as a bonus, frequent consumers of your blog could one day become employees themselves.

10) Googlify yourselves. No, I am not telling you to Google yourself; although this is always a good exercise in narcissism, I actually mean Googlify (can I patent that version of the word?). Many people are familiar with Google’s workplace, they are consistently ranked as one of the top places to work in the world and this is because their attention to the details of human resources is unparalleled. Googlifying your organization is just a fancy way of saying you should pivot to emulating Google in your own HR departments (or hiring practices) despite not having access to the vast resources Google does.

Feel like this list could help a business owner or HR professional you know? Share it with them and we all win.

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