Inside the Millennial Mind: A Gen Y Recruiter Speaks Out

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Jan 7, 2014

There have been many articles written about my generation – the Millennials or Generation Y – and the disconnect we have with employers. We’ve been called lazy, entitled, and even job hoppers looking for the next best opportunity. As a Millennial myself, I view this as a rite of passage that each new generation experiences when they enter the workplace. There’s tension that exists between the newcomers and the veterans, and some negative stereotypes get all the attention. Like each generation, Millennials have unique experiences and backgrounds that shape who we are, how we behave, and our expectations. Understanding these nuances will help employers see that many of us are driven and want to make a bright future for ourselves and our organizations. You just need to take the time understand how we engage and interact.

According to a ManpowerGroup study, 39 percent of employers say they are having problems finding staff with the right skills, and 32 percent say there are no available candidates. In addition, the Department of Labor states that 16.3 percent of Millennials are unemployed. So, we have employers who can’t find people and Millennials who can’t find jobs. I think each one is the answer to the other’s problem and as a Millennial involved in talent acquisition and bringing top tier talent to my organization, I see the issue from both perspectives.

Given my role as both a Millennial and a talent acquisition professional recruiting my Gen Y peers, I can offer the following advice about what works for me during the recruiting process:

  • Keep it short: When engaging a Millennial, I try to provide them with as much information as is available, in the most clear and concise format. I provide a very high level overview of the position, highlighting the most important topics. Millennials do not want to read through a long job description for a position that may not ultimately be of interest. We want to know the main duties and responsibilities and then decide if we want to pursue further.
  • Don’t call us, we’ll call you: When it comes to communication, Millennials generally do not want to be contacted by phone. We all have cell phones, mostly smart phones, but the last thing we want to do is use them for talking. We are a virtual generation and find it easier and more convenient to communicate via email. In fact, in an informal survey of 17 of my Gen Y colleagues, 88 percent said they would prefer to be contacted by email. An email gives the recipient time to consider the opportunity and develop a thoughtful response, versus having to react immediately in a phone conversation.
  • Present the big picture: Millennials want to know more about a prospective employer than just their potential role. You must let them know where the position could possibly take them, and how others have advanced. Provide an idea of personal responsibilities, highlighting the tasks that will give them a sense of accomplishment. In my informal survey, 53 percent of my colleagues said they desire structure and room for growth, with the rest desiring a work life balance. These are things that my generation holds important; it’s not always all about money.
  • Recruiters as confidants: When working with Millennials, I find we can easily relate, and candidates tend to act as their true selves around me. If they have a question or are not sure about the entire interview process, they are not afraid to reach out. I have the advantage of bonding with Gen Y candidates as a peer, but all recruiters can experience this edge if they engage with Millennials in the right way. For example, I personally greet candidates that I bring in for interviews, keeping things relaxing yet professional. Candidates are nervous enough as it is, so this allows me to help them relax and provides me with an understanding of who they are when they open up. Millennials want to build a relationship with me in order to gain an accurate understanding of the organization and for consistent and constant feedback about their performance and the process.

Once employers, and talent acquisition professionals especially, have a better understanding of the Millennial candidate, they will be able to unleash the human potential of Gen Y. From there, employers will be pleasantly surprised to find an eager group of talented professionals that are ready and willing to help the organization achieve its goals.

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