“Millennials,” “Generation Y,” “Generation WE,” “The Boomerang Generation,” “The Peter Pan Generation,” – we go by many names and were born roughly between 1980 and 2000. Born in 1990, I fall right smack in the middle of this generation and there is no denying that we are the subject of a heated debate: are we a blessing or a curse?

recruiting millennials

A lot of people seem to think that we are, well, a pain. The week I graduated from college, Time Magazine released an article titled “Millennials: the Me Me Me Generation,” which called us lazy, entitled, self-obsessed narcissists. Ouch! On the other hand, we’ve been called open-minded, liberal, self-expressive, upbeat, and overtly passionate about equality. Naturally, I’d prefer to believe this description over the former (how Millennial of me). But, the truth is both arguments hold some grounds for belief. The reality must fall somewhere in between.

The interest in and the controversy surrounding my generation resulted in a packed audience and lengthy Q&A at LinkedIn Talent Connect’s session: “Millennials: How to Attract, Hire, & Retain Today’s Workforce.” Lead by Sondra Dryer of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Barry Sylvia of TripAdvisor, and Melissa Hooven of Cornerstone OnDemand, the talk covered the do’s and don’ts of working with Millennials as well as our overall characteristics and desires.

I walked away from the session with a clear understanding of how recruiting Millennials is different and the key points every recruiter should emphasize when talking to this new generation. To help out those of you that weren’t there, I put together the following list of key takeaways from the session with a view of my own observations thrown in.

Millennials are…

Multitaskers

  • Millennials are multitasking pros and can juggle many responsibilities at once. This also means that we are easily distracted and find social media and texting hard to resist.
  • What this means for you: Barry Sylvia recommends keeping Millennials on track by being upfront about your expectations and establishing both daily and weekly goals. If your Millennial employees have deadlines to meet, you’ll be less likely to find them playing on their phones at the office. During the recruiting process, be sure to tell them that the job will have variety and that everyday will vary.

Connected

  • Millennials know everything there is to know about social media because we are living it. We are constantly perusing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.  - it’s how we share and get information.
  • What this means for you: If your company isn’t employing social media effectively, Millennials will think you’re irrelevant (sorry, it also turns out subtlety isn’t our strength). Keep your social media outlets active at all times. This doesn’t mean constantly posting jobs or product updates – try to start conversations that will engage your audience. Talk about topics that relate to your company or will interest your followers. Melissa Hooven suggests allowing your Millennial employees to help you with your social media strategy. After all, they are the experts. 

Tech-Savvy

  • There’s no doubt that the majority of Millennials are more tech-savvy than other generations, although Generation Z may soon surpass us (yikes!).
  • What this means for you: Make sure that your company and team stay up to date technologically. Also, ensure that your company and career sites are mobile-optimized so that you can easily be found online from any device at any time. In addition, make the application process fast and easy by allowing people to apply for positions with content from LinkedIn or other sources.  You can learn more about mobile recruiting strategies in LinkedIn’s Mobile Recruiting Playbook.

Millennials want…

Instant Gratification & Recognition

  • Millennials need to feel like what they are doing is important and that they are on the right track.  Yes, it sounds a little needy…and it is. But, many Millennials grew up with constant praise from their Baby Boomer parents. It’s what they know.
  • What this means for you: During the recruiting process, tell them about how important the position is and that they will be making a valuable contribution to the company. Once hired, recognize their accomplishments publicly. At PwC, Sondra Dryer did this my implementing a milestone rewards program. This type of recognition encourages Millennials to work hard and increases their job satisfaction.

Work-Life Balance & Flexibility

  • Millennials aren’t as willing as former generations to sacrifice their personal life in order to advance their careers. They like to “work hard – play hard” and want to be at a company that appreciates this desire for balance. They also expect a more flexible work environment than previous generations and want to work for a company that supports various causes.
  • What this means for you: Communicate that your company values work-life balance and tell them about sponsored events outside the work place, benefits, charity and volunteer work you support, and any fitness or health related programs that you provide for your employees. In addition, let them know that as long as they are meeting deadlines and goals and attending meetings, their time-in/time-out is up to them. If possible, give them the option to work from home on occasion.

Collaboration

  • Millennials are extremely team-oriented and enjoy collaborating and building friendships with colleagues.
  • What this means for you: During the recruiting process, let them know that there will be plenty of opportunities for collaboration and team projects. You should also design your office space to allow for teamwork and easy idea sharing (think open cubicles, white boards, and drop-in rooms that can be used for group meetings).

Transparency

  • Millennials want to feel like they have an open and honest relationship with their manager and co-workers and that there won’t be any nasty surprises when they join a company. Once they’ve signed on, they want assurance that their opinion is valued and both give and receive a good deal of feedback.
  • What this means for you: Make certain that there is unrevised information about your company available online and let them know about any downsides that the position they are applying for may have. They will appreciate your honesty, knowing that no job is perfect. Furthermore, tell them what their performance review process will be like. Once they are hired, provide them with the ongoing feedback that they desire.

Career Advancement

  • Millennials want to know that they will have the opportunity to advance and develop their careers within the company they choose to join.
  • What this means for you: During the recruiting process, tell them about opportunities that they will have to move-up in the ranks. If possible, Barry Sylvia suggests implementing a program whereby they can rotate through different divisions of the organization in order to find the best fit.

Every generation presents its own challenges and, clearly, Millennials are no different. But, we’re really not so bad! And just think: a whole new batch of Millennials will be graduating and entering the workforce in spring 2014. The more you know about them now, the better off your company will be.

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