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To Recruit Millennials, View the World as They Do

What’s the best way to recruit Gen Y? Millennials are anxious to advance their skills and job title. Provide them with continuous learning and the opportunity to advance.

To Recruit Millennials, View the World as They Do

By: John Rossheim

Congratulations– your employer branding has attracted the attention of candidates born between 1981 and 1996. Your next challenge? How to successfully recruit these Millennials.  

That's the two-step recruiting dance that many businesses will attempt in the second half of the 2010s. 

Here are some suggestions to help you master the challenge:  

Source candidates where they live
To recruit and hire top Millennial candidates, begin at the source. For Detroit Labs, that means finding out where their target talent spends time.

"We go to places where the people we want will be, like user groups, conferences and places where project managers hang out, including community events that we host in our office," says Nathan Hughes, co-founder of the 70-employee Detroit mobile app development firm.

But beware the (lack of) diversity trap
But remember, if your sourcing methods are focused like a laser, your hires may all end up sounding and looking like each other. That's a strategic error in an era when American and global markets are become ever more heterogeneous.

“We do have a diverse workforce, but it's not what we would like to see," says Hughes. "We’re not necessarily pulling people from those who aren't in the social networks or user groups that we frequent. So we want to add to that mix to adjust it."

Sell current opportunities, not future potential
To persuade Millennial candidates that you provide the career environment they're looking for, keep in mind that their time horizons are different from Xers and Boomers.

"With Millennials, we take a shorter-term approach," says Christie Bell, HR director of 80-employee Atlanta accounting firm Porter Keadle Moore. "If we talked about the path to partner and spending a career at our firm, that would freak out Millennial candidates. What they want to hear about is what can they do at our firm in one or two years."

Make candidates members of your community
Keep in mind that Millennials seek a strong sense of belonging, from the moment they express interest in a job. How can you satisfy that need? With frequent and timely feedback throughout each candidacy. 

"As interns, they are evaluated each week, because – in our audit practice, for example – they move quickly from client to client," says Bell. "Our interviewing is relationship based; it's not about testing young candidates on the spot with technical challenges." 

What Millennials call benefits
When you speak with Millennials about perks, remember what matters to them at this stage in their lives.

"For Millennials, traditional benefits are an afterthought," says Tracy Tenpenny, a sales executive and partner at Tailored Label Products, in Milwaukee. "Their approach to benefits isn't necessarily to break down health insurance and retirement plans. It's about having a wellness program, playing an active role with sustainability in the community — these are of much more value to Millennials.”

Do assess ability!
Enough with the selling. It's time to determine whether your Millennial candidates have what it takes to climb your company's learning curve at the speed you require. 

Detroit Labs hires candidates who actually lack coding experience but can demonstrate their problem-solving potential, grit and people skills – the soft skills.

“We look at a few specific character traits: the ability to deconstruct complicated things into smaller bits and understand and manage those bits," says Hughes. "We ask people to go through exercises to show that they can maintain forward progress while under intense pressure. We look for people who reach out to people rather than withdraw."