The Challenges of Recruiting Millennials

By Joe Issid
Monster Contributing Writer

In 2015, Millennials will overtake Baby Boomers and become the largest living generation in North America. This demographic shift will undoubtedly have far-reaching social, economic and cultural implications the world over. Specifically, the employment market is going to be massively impacted by the enormous influx of digitally-savvy, ambitious and social job seekers. With such a momentous demographic shift, companies are going to have to (at the very least) revisit their recruiting strategies and fully understand how best to respond to this changing tide. It has been estimated that 75% of the workforce will be comprised of Millennials within the next 10 years. As such, most of us Gen-Xers had better prepare to retire our parents and learn how to fully engage with our younger colleagues. The first step is to determine how we can best prepare for this reality.
It’s not all about money
Millennials are approaching their careers with a far greater sense of altruism than previous generations. Rather than seeking out an employer who can provide a steady income stream (a la Baby Boomers and, to an extent, Gen-Xers), Millennials are seeking out employers who can foster innovation and make positive contributions to society and the environment. “To attract and retain talent, companies need to show Millennials it is innovative and in tune with their world-view,” said Barry Salzberg, CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. According to the, one in three Millennials values “social media freedom” above salary. Clearly, Millennial motivation comes less in the form of remuneration and more in the form of social and environmental justice.
Harnessing ambition
Millennials tend to be far less patient in their careers than Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers and, as such, employers are investing heavily in the need to understand and cater to these behaviours. Some companies have found ways to mitigate this impatience by creating transitional career steps and younger-sounding job titles. According to Dan Epstein, CEO of ResourcePro, a business consultancy whose workforce is almost entirely comprised of Millennials: "By developing in-between steps and titles, managers can meet their desire for career progression. It also provides incremental training and experience that will aid them later with larger career advancement opportunities."
Entrepreneurial spirit
While Baby Boomers were extremely monogamous in their careers, Gen-Xers have been somewhat more promiscuous. Millennials, on the other hand, are far more entrepreneurial and have a much higher threshold for risk. According to a Deloitte survey, conducted just last year, 70% of Millennials envision working for themselves at some point during their careers. Traditional employment structures may begin feeling somewhat threatened if the risk of losing these employees remains so high. According to the survey: “The danger of losing talented Millennials is even greater in emerging markets. While 52 percent of Millennials in developed markets expect to eventually work independently, this figure rises to 82 percent in emerging markets.” To combat these potential high attrition rates, potential employers will need to create work environments that empower all employees and encourage entrepreneurial change. The ability to foster these desires will be instrumental in growing a business with a large Millennial workforce.
Be prepared to be interviewed
Job applicants are becoming more and more sophisticated in how they approach interviews. A candidate has the capacity to fully research the position, company and interviewer before ever setting foot in the interview room. As such, companies are under increasing pressure to ensure that their reputations are positive and that they are able to publicly demonstrate their productive, equitable and progressive work environments. A Millennial job seeker has far greater leverage than any bygone generation and those on the interviewing end need to respect this capacity. Interviewers need to cater to this knowledge and the expectation that the interview is now a two-way street.
As the Baby Boomers slide off into retirement, the workforce will be jolted by an injection of aggressively ambitious youth. Us Gen-Xers, sandwiched between the two largest generations in history, are in a unique position to watch our parents hand the reins to our children. Fortunately, we are also in a unique position to bridge the transition. We just need to put in place the mechanisms (and willingness) to adapt to the sea change that is on the rapidly-approaching horizon.