Currently, the Millennial generation represents 27% of the U.S. population and by 2022, they will hold the largest representation of the labor force with 44% of the population. The Millennial generation is comprised of those born between 1980 and 2000 and we are defined by our innovativeness, technical aptitude, socially liberal ways and often, by our sense of entitlement. However, not all Millennials want the same things when searching for an opportunity. Those born between 1990 and 2000, I’d like to refer to as the “Snapchat” generation and there are differences that define their job search.
They’re Different. Here’s Why
Some of these differences were evident at one of Bill Boorman’s truCollege unConferences. What was interesting to me is that very few of the attendees knew what university students truly want during the college recruitment process. This confusion was evidenced by the Q&A session during which university students answered questions about their experiences applying to roles, going to career fairs and interviewing on campus. We all know that the best recruiters are those that truly understand the candidates they are recruiting. This is why those that are often at the top of their field, are also former practitioners in the roles that they recruit for. But college recruiting is tricky. How do you put yourself in the shoes of a university student when there is not only a generational gap, but also a constant shift in the things that this generation wants in a career?
Some of the differences between the older and younger Millennials have to do with the economic change that has happened since the 2008 collapse. There has been a remarkable shift in the economy – one that has fostered entrepreneurship and created an immeasurable amount of opportunities for young people. This has made the Millennials’ feelings of entitlement stronger and made the path of apprenticeship to CEO in less than five years seem tenable. Just send your 21-year old an article about David Karp and the success of Tumblr and the wheels start turning. But this isn’t reality for 99.99% of our Snapchatters out there. It requires a bit more experience, a network and tremendous discipline. It’s true that some will realize this dream, but most will not. In the interim, what can we do to attract young hopefuls into being entrepreneurial at our firms and gain momentum with the brightest of the bunch during the recruitment process?
Most of the current Snapchat generation is searching for something more meaningful when looking for their first jobs out of college. They are looking to make an impact and they are more mission-driven than ever. Communicating how and when they can contribute during the university recruitment process will set your organization apart more so than any tchotchke you hand out at a career fair. Furthermore, data shows that entry-level candidates remain loyal to companies when they connect with the organization’s vision. If a university student is socially and environmentally conscious, they expect their employers to hold the same values. Emphasizing this during the recruitment process and reiterating it with content, videos, and during in-person interactions will improve your chances of recruiting the top students.
How to Make the Most of the Opportunity
There is also a large opportunity to emphasize the entrepreneurial nature of the role and how ownership or being a “mini-CEO” of a function or task can contribute to career trajectory. What’s great about students today is that their level of educational attainment is the highest in history and one of their greatest desires is to grow by taking on more responsibility. Despite the belief that many Millennial generation candidates aren’t loyal to companies and job hop, there is actually evidence to the contrary. Establishing a culture of kaizen can actually help candidates stay at your company longer and also add more value over time. Think about how this could impact your cost per hire. Doesn’t it make more sense over time to train and educate your existing employees and promote them from within than to recruit external candidates?
Finally, students care about transparency and authenticity earlier on in the hiring process. One of the biggest complaints of the students on the unConference panel was that there was a difference between what was communicated about the company culture and reality. Disingenuous content, conversations and interactions will not only turn candidates away from your company, but it will turn away their social network. Your best bet is to articulate the pros and cons of the culture and role sincerely, as well as articulate the prerequisites, expectations and work/life mix that is typical of an entry-level position at your company. Knowing what a real day in the life is like will not only help candidates interested in the role do better during the interview process, thus making the talent acquisition team seem stronger, but it will also ensure that those that are hired, stay longer, grow and flourish, which is frankly, what we should all hope for when we recruit young people to our companies!