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Hiring ‘Generation Y': What Do They Really Want?

Easy to use and so functional! By 2025 it’s estimated that 75% of the workforce will consist of people who are millennials or ‘Generation Y’ – the terms used to describe professionals born between 1981 and 1997. Concern over the ability to attract, hire and retain millennials is sufficient for global talent specialists Deloitte Global to publish an annual survey into the expectations of the upcoming workforce. The survey is now in its fourth year.

But should UK employers share that concern? With 84% of UK CEOs citing the ‘scarcity of talent’ as a major concern to achieving business goals according to PWC’s 18th Annual CEO Survey, the answer is probably yes. Understanding the difference Companies which rely solely on traditional methods of recruitment to attract millennials may find the numbers of qualified applicants dwindling.

For example, a recent article by online magazine HRZone claimed that millennials are generally immune to the attraction of LinkedIn.

The reasons offered for this include:

  • For millennials, the boundaries between professional and personal lives isn’t as distinct as it may be for older employees. Using a different social media site to explore career opportunities doesn’t make sense to them
  • With the average age of a LinkedIn user estimated to be 44, millennials may not feel they have much in common with the majority of its members
  • LinkedIn fails to address the need for ‘instant’ methods of online activities that millennials prefer. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and even Snapchat may prove more successful for employers who want to engage with tomorrow’s talent.

Perhaps as a response to this changing need, Facebook has recently launched its Facebook at Work pilot which is intended to challenge LinkedIn’s dominance.

Recruiting millennials

Taking into account these growing trends and almost daily surveys into what millennials want from an employer, how can a pressured hiring manager recruit upcoming talent? The following tips offer a good starting point:

  • Engage with prospective applicants on social media: This tech-savvy generation will respond to postings and engagement on Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram and Pinterest (as well as the aforementioned Snapchat). Engagement on social media requires daily commitment, however, so it is worth finding a recruitment partner that uses social media effectively, rather than attempting to spread your own resources too thinly.
  • Promote a consistent brand message online and offline: The way in which your company promotes its message on your careers site and across social media will influence your ability to attract younger, well-qualified applicants. Deloitte’s survey suggests that millennials are looking for businesses that focus on people and purpose rather than products and profit.
  • Work/life integration: Millennials are constantly ‘connected’ with a focus on work/life integration, rather than work/life balance. Employers who are flexible will attract more candidates across the board. The need for flexibility in the working day has also been recognised by the UK government in the past year. 2014 saw the introduction of a right to flexible working for all employees who have worked for a company for a minimum of 26 weeks.
  • Show what’s it in for them: Deloitte’s 2015 Millennial Survey suggests that only 28% of Generation Y feel their skills are being used effectively. Being able to show that your organisation supports collaborative working, coupled with supporting career development, and on the job training, such as apprenticeships, demonstrates that you value younger go-getting employees.
  • Understand their job-seeking habits: Millennial job seeking habits reflect this generation’s more tech-savvy upbringing. According to jobs aggregator site Indeed, 73% of job searches are now carried out on a mobile device.

Getting help

For many employers with limited resources, it is often an impossible task to discern how or where to adjust the hiring process to attract skilled millenials. Outsourcing all or part of your recruitment needs to an experienced partner will enable you to focus on addressing issues in your company culture or branding that may be hindering your ability to attract qualified younger candidates to your vacancies.

A dedicated staffing partner will offer a number of advantages:

  • A recruiter who works in your area and your sector is constantly in touch with skilled applicants across social media and through their existing database on a daily basis. With a proven track record, they understand how and where to engage with the talent your business needs.
  • Reputable recruitment firms are fully aware of the legal obligations of employers and changes in employment laws. Your dedicated recruiter will offer up-to-date advice on all issues relating to hiring people of all ages, whether on a temporary or permanent basis.
  • An effective recruiter gains an in-depth understanding of your culture which enables them to work on your behalf and present you with qualified candidates who meet your requirements.

A final consideration

While Generation Y may prefer more instant gratification in their job search than sites like LinkedIn can seemingly offer, are their needs really that different to those of older generations? A recent study by the IBM Institute for Business Values suggests not. The study revealed a number of common views across the workforce but suggested that the secret to success was to create a ‘millennial mindset’ among employees.

Whatever the latest hiring trends, the ability to attract, hire and ultimately retain qualified candidates will depend on how well your company can attract the right candidates and how much you value your employees.

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