Nabbing the Best and Brightest Millennials for Your Company

Aug 2, 2013

Like most generations, millennials have been branded with a variety of stereotypes. A Pew Research Center quiz, “How Millennial Are You,” gets to the core of the stereotype by asking questions like “How many text messages have you sent/received in the last 24 hours?” and “In the past 24 hours, did you read a daily newspaper or not?” and then delivering a score based on how much you align with the millennial mindset. A lot of people take these quizzes for fun (including myself, who scored a 77 … should I be concerned?). But with millennials expected to make up half the workforce by 2020, understanding their common behaviors and preferences, especially in a workplace context, is no joke.

This was what we wanted to get to the bottom of when we partnered with Achievers to conduct an extensive “Class of 2013” study.  The study was aimed at answering questions around millennial recruitment and retention issues to empower HR professionals tasked with hiring the brightest and best talent. Baby Boomer retirements are looming and employers are turning to millennials to fill their job openings. The unemployment rate for those graduating from college reflects this trend (it’s now 3.9 percent, down from 6.3 percent last year). So, HR professionals are looking to hire fresh talent with leadership potential and are increasingly looking for expertise on how to do so. The “Class of 2013” study provides that expertise.

Based on the results, there are some major generational trends recruiters aiming to attract millennial talent ought to consider.

Fishing where the fish are. The survey, which polled 10,000 students and recent graduates, indicated that brand recognition and campus presence is more important than ever. The majority of respondents, 87 percent, said they planned to go right to the source and submit applications directly through a company’s website. Another 70 percent indicated that they would be searching for jobs at networking events. The campus career services office is also an increasingly popular outlet, with 65 percent of new grads planning to job search using their resources. Further down the list, just less than half of new graduates (45 percent) plan to search using LinkedIn — up 800 percent from 2010, when only five percent of new grads were planning to use the site.

What does this mean for millennial recruitment? Create a “careers” link on your website where young talent can search for job opportunities and apply directly for the positions in which they are interested. Build relationships with career services offices so that you know how and when to get involved with career fairs and other on-campus events. Take advantage of speaking opportunities on campus and in classrooms to foster name recognition and relationships with up and coming talent. Basically, recruiters need to “fish where the fish are” and get their message out through campus participation and media.

Delivering a message that resonates. Presence is only part of the equation. You also need to have the right message. Tailor your branding to recruit those “best fit” millennials. The survey shows that millennials are primarily interested in challenging roles and opportunities to advance. Focusing messaging around the presence of these factors is highly effective. It might mean showcasing rotations, mentorship programs, or interesting projects. Set up open houses, feature recent graduates who can help you speak to this audience, and tap into social media to support your messaging around these areas.

Finally, think critically about your company’s culture and deliver a strong message around it in your branding. Be transparent and make your company culture apparent and attractive. Accomplishing this can be as easy as highlighting media that millennials are drawn to — videos, interviews, profiles of current employees, etc. Our survey showed that Millennials plan to stay at their first job much longer than they actually end up staying, indicating that fit and advancement are big factors in millennial retention. As you’re looking for employees with long-term leadership potential, you’ll want to recruit new graduates that will blend in and grow with your organization.

So in millennial speak, if this was TL;DR (too long; didn’t read): when looking to recruit tomorrow’s leaders to your company, start building recognition with the right channels — especially campuses — and make sure your brand communicates opportunity and culture.

Kristen Dooley, chief people officer at ConnectEDU, also contributed to this piece.

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