A Guide to Attracting and Retaining Millennials — As Written By a Millennial Posted at 0:00, Wed, 4 January 2017 in Industry Insights


It’s no secret that the future of the workforce rests in their hands. In fact, Millennials will comprise more than one in three adult Americans by 2020, with Forbes stating they will make up 75 per cent of the global workplace by 2025. There is no wonder why companies are feeling the pressure to evolve to include more flexible, transparent, and diverse cultures as more of these “digital natives” accept employment offers.

The introduction of technology has ended the regular nine-to-five workday, dull meetings and cubicles for remote work, digital meetings with coworkers based around the globe often in collaborative workspaces. The Millennial generation overtook Baby Boomers as the largest generation in the United States in 2016, and with all of the disruption they are causing, it’s not surprising that 53% of hiring managers in the US admit to having difficulty recruiting and retaining them.

Millennials are a boisterous bunch — with 90% of them using social media, they are more connected and have a voice that no other generation has had. Many find them to be entitled, selfish individuals who demand perks and have high expectations about access, but, according to Laszlo Bock, former Chief of Human Resources at Google, “the only thing that’s different about the Millennial generation is that it is actually asking for things that everybody else wants.” Who could blame them? With their entire lives on display due to the public nature of social media, it’s not surprising that they seek professional development that aligns with their personal brand and values.

While companies have continued to keep Generation X motivated by job security, they are finding it harder to retain top Millennial talent using these same tactics. After all, they are known as being ‘job-hoppers,’ aren’t they? So, if you can’t motivate them by offering a 15-year career, how do you?

Let them make an impact.

The way to keep a Millennial invested in your organization is to offer them the opportunity to make an impact, achieve professional growth and experience organizational transparency. To do so, you must start by finding candidates that share in the excitement around your mission and purpose; but don’t stop there! You must focus on these aspects throughout the candidate journey and beyond.

If you’re ready to embark on your journey to attracting top talent, look no further. I share with you below the secrets you need to find and retain Millennials:

Construct Your Foundation — Your Employer Brand
When you begin to build a house, you always start with the foundation; otherwise, the entire project will collapse. The same goes for recruiting in the digital age. Millennials are expert consumers, and as such, they expect dynamic, trustworthy visuals. Stock photos and buzzwords on your website do not cut it. These individuals consume hundreds of brands daily, and if they can’t find reliable information on your site, they will turn to social media, Glassdoor, or worse… move on to the next company.

If you want to hire talent that is right for your business, you will have to lay out the framework that will lead to future success.

The Framework For A Successful Employer Brand

Define your ideal candidate
Just like you would create a client persona for your sales team, you need to determine who an ideal candidate would be for your company. To do so, take a look at your current employees. Who is thriving in your organisation? What are the positive qualities and characteristics that led to their success? These are individuals that you can’t imagine not seeing every day. Take these people aside and talk to them about why they joined and why they continue to stay on at the company.

Define the ‘Pillars’ of your employer brand
What makes you stand apart from your competitors? These can be anything from your values, company traditions or culture. You want to be transparent and authentic if you hope to bring on someone who is a great cultural fit. These pillars will let candidates see what is important to you and your team, and will tell them whether or not they will succeed in a role at your company.

Communicate across all channels
You want to authentically express who you are as a brand both online and offline. Post team photos and videos across your website, social media, and anywhere else your prospective candidates might find you. Do you host happy hours, monthly book clubs or provide opportunities for staff to volunteer? This is your time to shine! Enlist your team in touting what gets them excited to come to work each day through the various channels of communication that are open to you. Photos and videos will help bring vibrancy to your touch points including your office, company website and job ads. You can even convey the prospective impact candidates can make on the company through your job descriptions.

Food for Thought: Lever.co creates “impact descriptions” that includes what candidates are expected to accomplish in their roles in 3, 6, and 12 months.

Now is the time to take action! Recruit your team to help build your employer on brand social media. Get everyone excited about creating a company culture and community that will attract incredible talent!

Stand Apart From Your Competition — Proactive Sourcing

If you want to bring top talent to your organisation, you need to be going out and ‘knocking on doors’ — so to speak. No high calibre employees just ‘show up’ at your doorstep demanding jobs these days; millennials are even less likely to do so. We’re in the age of technology, so get amongst it! 31% of candidates hired come through proactive sourcing, as opposed to waiting for applicants to find your company and apply. So, get onto LinkedIn, use their recruiting tool, which includes advanced features and access to all 400 million+ members, and find candidates with the skills you are looking for.

Or, better yet, give us a call and let one of our expert sourcing teams in North America, Europe, Australia, or Asia do the legwork for you and we’ll help you bring in the top talent your company needs to start firing on all cylinders! #SorryNotSorry for the shameless plug.

Keep in mind during the sourcing process that Millennials are an overstimulated bunch, and they connect in different places than previous generations. You want to be their resource during the entire candidate journey. They are avid information seekers, and they will do research to get the answers they need. If you communicate what makes your company unique early on, share links with them that give real life examples, and offer them opportunities to meet offline to get to know your business on a personal level, you are more likely to have them accept your offer later.

Food for Thought: Even when a prospective candidate is not currently seeking a new opportunity, they may still be open to an informal conversation about the role you are hiring for. Take them out for a coffee and speak casually about what their ideal role would look like. Even if they are not interested in moving on, they could refer you to a friend or offer you feedback on the position that could potentially make it more appealing to someone else.

Create Opportunities to Meet Millennials Offline
1. Host monthly or quarterly meet-ups or happy hours at your office.
2. Do you know any thought leaders in your community? Have them speak at an office event and ask your employees to invite their friends.
3. Provide bonuses or other incentives for your team to refer a friend who would be a good cultural fit for your company.

Your team’s extensive network is your most valuable resource. Enlist the help of the most passionate members of your team and start talking to them about becoming evangelists for your brand. They can offer information and resources to their network on social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn Publisher, Medium, and more. They can even provide honest, anonymous reviews on websites such as Glassdoor that allows potential employees see what your current employees think of your company. Remember to encourage everyone to be human and authentic throughout this entire process.

One Size Does NOT Fit All — A Customised Candidate Experience

The days of stuffy conference rooms and group interviews are behind us! It’s time to take a leaf or two out of the playbook of those tech unicorns we hear so much about. If you want to attract and retain top talent, you need to tow your current candidate experience out of the stone age and bring it into the 21st century. In the age of technology in which we live, Millennials expect smooth transactions and clean interfaces when navigating websites and applying for jobs — Psst… Do you need a UX or UI Designer? Our team has you covered.

Becoming an advocate for your candidates is important throughout the entire hiring process, and continues on even after they’ve accepted your offer. Remember that even after a candidate has accepted an offer, the ball is still in their court. As they say, “the devil we know is better than the devil we don’t.” If you do not walk with your candidate throughout the entire process, easing their concerns, and showing you are excited about them joining your team, they are just as likely to accept a counteroffer from their current employer. However, evidence shows that over 75% of candidates who accept a counter end up leaving the organisation after 3 months. Don’t be afraid to follow up with them regularly to motivate and remind them why they accepted (or are planning to accept) your offer in the first place; over-communication is better than no communication.

Your candidates want to see the real you and want to know that the position aligns with their values and needs. They want to be prepared for the interview process and know what to expect out of the job they are applying for. No one wants to sign on for what appears to be an ideal role, and suddenly there are a ton of surprises that weren’t discussed during the hiring process. More than 67% of employers believe that retention rates would be higher if candidates had a clearer picture of what to expect from working at the company before taking the job. So, make sure to communicate early and often.

How to Create a Seamless Candidate Experience
• Give your candidates a run sheet ahead of time with details on who they are meeting and what will be covered. This will help alleviate nerves and will give you a better idea of who they are without the interview jitters.
• Instead of heading straight to the conference room, provide them with a tour of the office and let them imagine what it would be like to work with the team.
• Introduce them to people from different teams, so they can learn about the inner workings of the company and know what areas they can best create an impact.
• Show them what it’s like to be part of the team by inviting them to participate in *real* team meetings. You can even have them work with your team to solve onsite challenges and give them the opportunity to shine.
• Take the time to do multiple interview rounds where you focus on company culture and core values. You both need to know whether they are a good fit, or if turnover is likely.

Food for Thought: Feedback is a two-way street, so develop feedback mechanisms into your hiring process. Statistics show that 90% of candidates agree to receive verbal feedback because they want to know how they can improve, so be sure to give it promptly. You should also be collecting candidate feedback after every interview and use it to improve the overall experience.

Remember that your vibe attracts your tribe. When you treat prospective employees like you do your existing team members, you create a seamless candidate experience.

“I’m Going to Make Him an Offer He Can’t Refuse.”

The offer stage of any search is a delicate process, but if you have followed the previous three steps, it’s likely that your candidate is ready to make the jump. Do not start easing off now! If anything, this is the time to pull out all of the stops and show them that your excitement is sincere. You’ve walked with them this far, the best thing you can do at this stage is to send them a personalised offer letter (before they receive one from HR) and tell them why you are excited for them to join the team. Be sure to include what made them stand out from other candidates you interviewed.

Food for Thought: The worst thing you can do is create a self-destructing job offer. This is an intense moment for them also, and they want to feel that they are supported throughout the offer stage. Provide them with ample time to meet again to go over any additional questions they have. If you haven’t heard back from them after they received your offer, make sure to follow up to soothe any possible fears or cold feet they may be experiencing.

Gestures That Will Help Get You To “Yes!”
• Arrange a time for senior leadership to take them to lunch to discuss vision. This is a prime selling opportunity that shows your entire team is invested in them.
• Surprise and delight — RecruitingSocial.com suggests exceeding candidate expectations by performing small gestures such as welcoming a candidate to an onsite interview with a basket of company swag and a hand-written note thanking them for the visit, sending a written thank you note before they send you one, or programming a personalised welcome message on your reception area leaderboard on the day of the interview.
• Walk them through a trajectory of their career thus far. Discuss the high and low points, their motivations in previous roles, and show that you are invested in their career advancement and that all of their efforts will go towards building something impactful. This is also a very good time to take detailed notes that can later be used in performance reviews and ensure that they are making the appropriate strides in their career to get them to the next level. This will make sure that you keep them invested down the road. According to Glassdoor, 46% of Millennials left their last job due to lack of career growth.

Remember that even if you think they are sold — don’t stop encouraging! The decision making process is a stressful time, especially when they have other offers on the table. It’s not always about who offers the most money or the best perks. More than 80% of Millennials reported that they would take a pay cut to find work that matches their values. This doesn’t mean to pay them less than they deserve, just make them a strong offer and keep their motivations in mind throughout the process and you are likely to get that “yes!”

Be An Advocate For Your Candidates Even After They’ve Joined

It’s not always about perks. To retain Millennials, you need to show that you value their professional growth and well-being. Constant communication and company-wide transparency are a great way to keep anyone on your team from feeling burnt out and isolated.

Food for Thought: Sarah Smith, VP of Advertising Sales and Operations at Quora suggests hosting a weekly company-wide Q&A session with leadership. She claims that questions are typically directed at the CEO, but give everyone a chance to ask questions and hold leadership accountable. These live sessions are useful because the audience can more easily detect dishonesty, and the level of transparency gives Millennials a clearer picture of how they fit into the company’s objectives.

Ways To Show You Are Invested in Your Team
• Offer opportunities for learning and development — this is just as important to Millennials as promotions or raise schedules.
• Emphasise flexibility. 88% of workers wish that they could start or finish work when they choose. 75% would like to start working (or work more often) from home.
• Create opportunities for your team to build relationships. 71% of Millennials report having friendships at work. Your people and culture matter!
• Encourage communication and transparency. 76% of Millennials report higher levels of satisfaction where there is a creative, inclusive working culture.

Millennials are the present and future of companies around the globe, and it is clear that they have a significant impact in the disruption we are seeing in recruitment. We hope that you put this guide to good use and help the tech industry become a more diverse and inclusive place to work.

Inside the Minds of Millennials by The Muse (Webinar)
11 Facts about the Millennial Generation by Brookings Now
Why You Can’t Ignore Millennials by Forbes
6 Ways to Ensure Your Candidate Turns Down Your Job Offer by RecruitLoop

Top HR Statistics by Glassdoor
Why Delight is the Icing on Your Candidate Experience Cake by RecruitingSocial

How to Retain Millennials in 2016 by Lever.co