When it comes to hiring fresh talent, there’s a new demographic in town. With boomers retiring and Gen Xers aging, millennials are taking over the workforce and changing the way companies attract and retain new talent. In this episode, we’ll be discussing all the ins and outs of recruiting and hiring millennials—why it’s worth it and what to expect. Listen in as we decode the values and behaviors of today’s job seekers to arm you with the knowledge you need to connect with the next generation of top talent.
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Brandon: Welcome to the HR for Small Business Podcast, this is your host Brandon Laws. Today I’m with Paige Tamlyn. She is on our HR team and a first time guest on the podcast. Welcome, Paige!
Paige: Thank you so much for having me!
Brandon: Listeners may have noticed that we’ve been doing a lot of podcasts on millennials, and next week I’m recording a podcast with an author of a book on millennials and management. It’s kind of a theme right now; people are asking about millennials and about how to work with them. But for today’s topic, how do you recruit them?
So let’s start, Paige, by talking about the employer value proposition because I think this is something that employers who are really good at recruiting have figured out, what their employer value proposition is.
For those that don’t know what it is, you’re probably going to convince them that they need to focus on it. But what is it?
Paige: Your employer value prop is really how you want to sell yourself on the market. It’s basically your brand on a big screen. Take that into consideration when you’re recruiting millennials, because that’s what they’re looking for. They really want to see your business out there on the market and see how you come out to play.
Brandon: What are some ways that job seekers and even employers, what are the ways that they will get that message out so that candidates can find them?
Paige: If you guys haven’t seen our Xenium culture video that we’ve got—a little plug!
Brandon: Nice plug!
Paige: Yeah, you’re welcome! That’s such a great way to really express your brand and what you’re doing as a company. Millennials really want to know what it’s going to be like to work there on a day-to-day basis. Just having pictures on your website of company parties and things, everyone knows that’s not realistic.
I really want to know when I’m looking at your website or your Twitter or whatever it is that I’m looking at, I want to know what it’s like to work there. If you have something like a culture video that really takes a look at your employees and your senior leadership and everyone in the company and really showcases what it’s like to work there, I think that that’s such a great and easy way. For the most part it can be pretty easy for you to really broadcast that out to people.
Brandon: I’ve seen companies do some really unique things. In fact, just recently I got Xenium on Instagram because I felt like a lot of millennials are specifically looking at pictures quite a bit and – so why not have a company page that specifically highlights your organization and what you’re doing? Have you seen employers doing things like that?
Paige: Yeah, I definitely think that millennials are looking for your business in more ways than you think they are. Things like Instagram and Twitter, besides just Googling your company, that’s where they’re going to look to find you. So having an Instagram page I think is a great way. I mean, you have to be really careful. You have to be careful with how you push out content and things because you don’t want to force it down their throat by any means and you want it to be genuine. But I think especially for businesses that are in media and tech that are looking for those kind of young millennials, I think that’s a great way to look for a new candidate.
Brandon: And you’re talking about the employer value proposition. The way I always sort of look at it is that it’s an employer saying, Hey, here’s what we value, here’s what we believe in. Take it or leave it.
Those mediums that you just talked about, the video, Instagram, Twitter, just getting your message out there, it seems like as an employer you’re allowing people to opt in to what you’re selling, essentially, and then candidates self-select in through applying or interacting or whatever.
Paige: Absolutely. I think that a lot of times people forget that something that’s really important to millennials is what the company values and if it aligns with what they value, their culture. They’re not just looking at like compensation. That’s not something that’s high on our priority list.
Brandon: It’s a little important!
Paige: It’s a little important, sure! I need to get paid to make a living, but there are things like flexible work schedules and other perks and growth and development, like training that that we’re more likely to buy into as opposed to just compensation.
Brandon: So let’s summarize what you just said. I think today’s job seekers, especially millennials, they’re looking for something pretty specific in an employer. It probably varies by person. But when they’re looking for that perfect job, what do they want to see from an employer during the early stages of the recruiting process?
Paige: Like I said, they really want to see what it’s like to work there because, especially if they’re making a jump from a current employer to somewhere else, they need to know it’s going to be worthwhile for them.
They also want to buy into your mission and what you’re doing. They want to feel like they’re making a difference. So I think the statistic now is most millennials leave their jobs within two years. Brandon’s giving me a look—
Brandon: I’ve got wide eyes right now, oh my gosh!
Paige: It’s crazy! I know they do. So after two years, if they don’t feel like they’re making a difference, guess what. They’re gone. It’s just day to day work for them then.
Brandon: With that said, wouldn’t it make sense during the employer brand, or the marketing phase of the recruiting process, to highlight, Hey, you can make a difference here. You’re going to be doing work that is going to be meaningful. It’s going to contribute to the bottom line or to some amazing mission. Are employers even doing that?
Paige: I don’t think a lot of them are. I feel like this is like an untapped potential. You really have to sit and think about how you want to project yourself and what your company values because the millennial who doesn’t feel like the employer brand is aligned with what their expectations are and what they want to get out of their career, guess what. They’re probably not even going to apply. So then you’ve just wasted your time. Or they’re going to go through the whole hiring process, reject your offer and then you’ve lost all that time and money.
So you have to get that in their brain very early on through that EVP to really sit and think about This is my mission. This is what I want our company to do, especially like I said those young tech companies, the media companies, it’s really easy for them to come up with what their value prop is and what their mission is. But other companies might struggle with that a bit. So I think that that’s something that’s really valuable to actually sit down and think about what you’re wanting to project.
Brandon: I know we’re talking about millennials here, but when it comes to the early stage of the recruiting process, does what they’re really looking for and what they pay attention to vary by generation?
Paige: Yeah, I think that Gen Y and baby boomers are really – based on their history, they’re looking for the money and I think more than anything especially with those baby boomers, they’re looking for job security because that’s something that they didn’t have or were really terrified of.
Brandon: Security. So they probably want to see a company that has been in business for 20+ years.
Paige: Yes, they’re not likely to probably jump to the new startup company. That’s not something they’re looking for. They’re probably looking for a more well-established company, somewhere that they can see themselves, especially if they’re looking towards retirement, if they are in that age range.
You know, they probably wouldn’t even be jumping or looking for a new opportunity unless they’re really itching for something new. But that’s kind of the difference with the Gen Y and baby boomers. They’re really looking for the job security and the money whereas millennials really want to make a difference and as much as they are looking for compensation, they also want, like we talked about, the flexible work schedule, the other kind of benefits and perks. Obviously medical insurance is really expensive, so having that as opposed to a higher salary might give you a little bit of wiggle room.
Brandon: When we go back to talking about millennials and through that recruiting process, maybe they’ve gotten through interviews. If an employer is going to offer them a job and the millennial candidate says, Thanks, but no thanks. If there are one or two reasons why they wouldn’t accept the job, what did the employer do wrong during that process?
Paige: It could be a few things. It could be that their mission and what they’re driving for wasn’t clear enough to the millennial, that they just really didn’t think that they could make a difference here. It could be something like compensation or your work schedule wasn’t going to be flexible enough. Millennials don’t want to be in the office 9:00 to 5:00. That is not something they’re looking for. They really want to be kind of like out and about. They want to be able to work from home or those kinds of things is what they’re looking for especially too. But a lot of times I see that millennials are rejecting job offers because the recruiting process took too long.
Brandon: That is a common problem, isn’t it?
Paige: I can tell you, before I started at Xenium, I was applying for a position and I had to interview with every single department manager in one day.
Brandon: One day? So was it like an all day thing? That’s crazy.
Paige: It was all day. I was there all day and honestly, by the time I had finished all that, I could tell already who I was going to be aligned with, who I was going to have problems working with because we weren’t clicking. Especially with HR, too, it’s hard, so maybe it’s tougher for us to find that right fit. But by the time I was done at the end of the day, I was like, This is not for me.
Brandon: But are you glad that happened?
Brandon: So that was actually a good process.
Paige: But by the time I had already interviewed with the HR person I was in the second round of interviews, so we had already been through this process for two weeks. I would have already self-selected out by that point, but at that time they were already making a decision. Just keep in mind that if your recruiting process takes a really long time, being upfront with somebody about that by saying, Hey, you’re going to need to meet with department managers because it’s really important that we’re all integrated. Just giving them that kind of notice upfront I think is really helpful because if it takes two weeks, they’re probably going to self-select out or they won’t accept your offer and you’ve wasted all this time.
Brandon: You’ve brought up such a great point about being so upfront about the expectations of the recruiting process. Most people don’t define that upfront, like the automated email. Oh, we will get back to you soon. Why not just say We will get back to you in two weeks or we will get back to you in three weeks.
Paige: Or just reaching out. I just want to know! Call me within 24-48 hours of accepting my application or however long that takes you to weed through all those if you’re pre-screening and just say, Hey, I’m super interested in talking with you. We either have a lot of applications or we just have a long interview process. Is that going to be an issue for you? Most of the time, they just want to know. So as long as you’re upfront about it, it doesn’t seem to be an issue.
Brandon: Candidates could realign their expectations based on what they’ve said upfront.
Paige: Often during that time is probably when they might be able to tell you like, Hey, I’m also looking at two other positions. So then you know. Ok, this is my top candidate. They’re looking at two other positions. Guess what, my process is now only one week!
Brandon: It’s funny how transparency is so important, just having that open dialogue. I wish more people were like that because I think you speed up the process and everybody gets what they want.
Paige: I think we all wish we could be a little more transparent. Obviously it depends on your company, if you’re a startup, obviously that’s going to be a little bit easier for you. If you have a well-defined recruiting process that might not be something you can do, to speed it up. But just be transparent about it, that it takes a while. That’s really all they want to know.
Brandon: When you go back to the early, early, early stages of when a millennial candidate runs across an employer, what do you find are some common ways that millennials find out about potential employers? Are they doing Google searches? Are they finding job postings on Craigslist? What are some of these things that you’re telling your clients on the recruiting side?
Paige: I think recruiting is such an interesting wheel. My professor at PSU used to call it the dark magic of Google and recruiting because you just never know what formula is going to be right for you. Obviously don’t just rest on your laurels like, I always post on Indeed and so that’s where I’m going to post it. You have to experiment and see what’s going to be best for you. I think being as creative as you can with where you’re posting your jobs is important. If you have an Instagram page and you know you’ve got a lot of followers, say Hey, we’ve got this great job for somebody in marketing. What better place to look for a marketing person than like Instagram? Or post on your Twitter, whatever you’ve got for social media, Facebook is great for that too.
It’s easy for people to share it, too. You have to consider that not only is it your network that you’re broadcasting it to but their networks as well. So the easier it is for them to share it with somebody. Like Hey, I just saw this company has posted this job, I know you’re looking for a marketing position and flip it over to them. How easy is that? They’re less likely to send over an Indeed posting to somebody else, but it’s very easy to flip over a Facebook link or LinkedIn or anything like that.
Brandon: It’s so shareable.
Paige: It’s so shareable, they’ve made it so easy. Keeping that kind of stuff in mind. I also always tell people that when it comes to your careers page or your website, if it take me more than two clicks to get to your careers page, I’m gone. Be really mindful of how like in the weeds your career pages and stuff are because if it takes me more than two clicks to find it, I’m out of there.
Brandon: You bring up such an awesome point. I think that’s why because I’m a marketer and I often am asking how to keep people engaged and keep them on your website and engaging with your stuff. That’s such a valid point. If it’s so hard to find something that you’re looking for and the process takes too long, I’m out.
Paige: Millennials have been known to be impatient.
Brandon: It’s the now generation!
Paige: Exactly. Everything is at our fingertips, so why would I spend more than five minutes looking at your company website to figure out where to apply for this job?
Brandon: I think it’s a sign, too, upfront if the recruiting process is cumbersome, what are the business operations like?
Brandon: I mean if you can’t get this piece dialed in, then what’s underneath everything else?
Paige: Yeah. Again, if it takes me more than 10 minutes to fill out your online application, guess what? I’m gone. If there’s any way that your IT group can have it – I’ve seen websites where you can upload your resume to their application. If you have a hiring process or applicant tracking system, whatever you’ve got going, a lot of times they can upload their resume and it will automatically filter in their information to the application. Then they can just click Go and move on. Because it’s a tell-tale sign that if it takes me more than 10 minutes to even apply for the job, probably going to be that two-week timeline for recruiting.
Brandon: When you think about what speaks to you as a millennial and what you’ve seen work, would an employer be better off talking about perks and benefits in the early stages of the marketing of the job, or values and beliefs, like we’ve talked about with employer value proposition? If you had to choose one, one route to market the job, what’s the best way if there is a silver bullet?
Paige: I think that whatever one you choose, I think it’s going to be different for every company, you have to be super strong in that. So you can’t just go out there 50% and be like, Yeah, so these are our beliefs. It’s great. I’m not responding to that. So whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly. Honestly, I feel like it’s easier for me to figure out what your compensation, your benefits and perks are just based on my own research. Glassdoor is great for stuff like that, I might know somebody that works for you, I can look on your LinkedIn and look at who’s working there.
I can probably figure a lot of that stuff out on my own and would probably hear about it in the interview process. So I think focusing on what your beliefs are and what your values are upfront is what’s going to really attract them initially. The benefits and perks are just going to pull them in even further.
Brandon: I’m glad you said that because that was where my head was going. A lot of the perks and benefits, they stack up with competitors, right? I think what the difference is, is the value prop.
Brandon: And when you think about the way marketing works, it’s headlines, click bait type stuff. That’s all you see on Facebook, it’s all headlines and the headline may not tie in with the article itself, but that’s just the world we live in now. It’s easier to write a headline based on mission and value proposition than it is like, Hey, we got 401(k) matching! Could you imagine leading with a headline like that versus, We change people’s lives? That resonates better.
Paige: I think that non-profit group has such a strength in that, like this is our strong mission and people really buy into that.
If you can get on that same level as those non-profits that have that really strong mission and vision and talk about what you guys value as a company, that’s so great because a lot of people do offer 401(k). A lot of people do offer medical insurance and all that. You have to differentiate yourself from every other company.
Brandon: Those perks are important.
Brandon: I think your point about it pulling you in, though, I think that’s a perfect way to articulate that.
I want to touch a little bit on the interviewing piece, I know you’ve probably got some thoughts about this. During an interview, what can an employer expect from like behavior standpoint when it comes to millennials? Body language, maybe questions that they ask, those sorts of things, or even the answers in some cases.
Paige: I heard from somebody who was interviewing millennials, this could just be a general statement. But they said that they weren’t making eye contact with them and they felt that that was super disrespectful. I kind of had to pause for a moment because as a millennial myself, I would like to think that I generally make eye contact with people. Maybe it’s just because I’m in the HR world?
But when I talked to some of my friends, they said, Oh, it just feels really awkward to like really just be sitting there and staring at the person – especially if it’s a one-on-one kind of interview. So just know that especially if they don’t have a lot of practical experience, if they haven’t had a job before, they’re fresh out of school, this might not be a strong suit of theirs yet. But generally speaking, they’re probably going to have the skillset that you’re looking for. They just don’t know really how to communicate that super well, so just be mindful of that.
I would say a lot of times too, if they are fresh out of school, they’re not going to have a practical reason or example of something that you’re looking for. So give them a hypothetical situation.
Brandon: Because work experiences are probably not abundant for them.
Paige: Depending on where they graduated from, they obviously have done group work and stuff like that or maybe they had internships they can speak to. But some of them don’t have practical job experience other than maybe a retail job, which is super helpful, mind you, I came from retail.
Brandon: It’s a job!
Paige: It’s totally a job, customer service. But they might not have practical, related job experience. So give them a hypothetical situation of how they would work through something. Like, Tell me about a time when you had to work through a difficult interaction with a teammate or a coworker or another student in your group. Just give them multiple outlets to how to answer your questions so they aren’t just forced into a box of – I don’t know how I answer this because I’ve never come across it before.
Brandon: Throughout the process of attracting millennials, the interview process, is there anything that you can think of that you just want to kind of leave employers with to focus on? Because I just don’t feel like a lot of employers really know how to market to millennials, I think it’s a real problem for a lot of people.
Paige: I was reading an article on Yahoo Business and it said that their strong suit and their skills are probably what scares you most. I think that that’s so true.
Brandon: It’s everything you’re probably not.
Paige: It’s everything that you are not. It’s everything that you maybe don’t know how to do, that your skillset is not in. You just have to be mindful that their approach is different than others’ and I think one of my favorite things to ask people in an interview is, What are your goals? What are your professional goals? Because that’s honestly going to tell you so much about them and it’s really going to be able to give you that eye on whether or not you guys are aligned or not and what they can do for you.
Brandon: Good stuff. Paige Tamlyn, thank you for joining the podcast today! I appreciate it. It’s a lot of fun to talk about millennials and recruiting and all that. So we will have you back again.
Paige: Thank you. Go millennials!