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Inside the Millennial Mind, From a Gen Y Recruiter

by
Brent Grinsteiner
Jan 16, 2014, 1:40 am ET

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 U.S. 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. 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 offer the following advice about what works for me during the recruiting process:

  • Keep it short: When engaging a millennial, 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, 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 greet candidates who 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 who are ready and willing to help the organization achieve its goals.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  1. Ken Forrester

    Thank you Brent, this is a well written piece with great insights into the minds of future leaders.

    If I could use a business analogy, you are saying that GenY are brand conscious, well informed consumers that are motivated by their perception of their wants and needs?

    Are you also implying that the traditional headhunting methods of building a relationship, determining where one would like to take his/her career and linking a job opportunity to his/her wants and needs is no longer the most effective recruitment strategy with this group?

  2. Christine Doane

    Very well written article Brent! As a GenY myself, I enjoyed reading this. It affirmed what I have found in my experience interacting with other millenials as a talent acquistion professional.

  3. Keith Halperin

    IMHO, trying to characterize/stereotype tens of millions of people by the decade they were born makes only slightly more sense than doing the same thing by the month they were born: aka “astrology”.

    Thanks,
    Keith

  4. Kelly Blokdijk, SPHR

    The fact that there have been many articles written on this topic, doesn’t necessarily imply that trend needs to continue. Pretty sure you could replace the word “millennial” with “people who brushed their teeth this morning” and get the same points across.

  5. Lawrence Newman

    We work in interesting times…
    all four generations of us at once.

    Thanks for your thoughtful and well written perspectives.

    from a Baby Boomer :)

  6. Jill Erickson

    Great Post Brent! Only those who have truly worked in organizations and on teams with each of the generations and taken the time to understand the extensive research and why it was done will understand your post. It’s great to hear your perspective! Keep it coming.

  7. Keith Halperin

    @ Jill: I commend your org for researching people’s backgrounds to help build better teams, but using a semi-pseudoscientific basis like Generational Cohorts seems like a very inefficient way to go about it. Instead of clumping people together in these unwieldy cohorts, why not take the time to get to know them as individuals with there own personalities, temperaments, communication styles, and preferences. There are a number of tools to help with this.

    Thanks,

    Keith “Not a Typical Late Boomer” Halperin

  8. Catherine Davis

    Thanks for the dive into the millennial mind, Brent.

    All of us are multi-tasking like crazy these days so I too see the benefits of keeping it short and sweet and emailing/texting vs calling.

    I appreciate your feedback on the point “recruiters as confidants”. I never really thought of it this way. Since you are outside of an organization, I can see how your potential candidates give you the inside scoop after interviewing or feel more comfortable getting more personal.

    -Catherine Davis, Instructional Design Practice Lead for SweetRush (www.sweetrush.com)

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