5 Practical Tips for Recruiting Millennials

November 3, 2014

As a college recruiter for the past five years for Genesis10, Tara Wyborny thinks that Millennials have been given a bad rap when it comes to hiring and managing them. “All that business about Millennials being entitled and needy is just not true in my experience,” says Wyborny. “You just need to be really up front and transparent with them,” she explains. “If you’re able to communicate clearly at each step, you can have great success with Millennials.

Here are several insights Wyborny has gained about recruiting today’s generation of recent college graduates:

1. Don’t just be a recruiter, be a coach.

As a recruiter to Millennials, you really have to become their advocate and coach, explains Wyborny. “They often don’t have the professional experience to be able to understand the value in taking certain positions,” she says.

Additionally, she finds all too often that campus college career services don’t do a good job with giving realistic career advice. Recently, Wyborny was working with a math major that didn’t realize that he would be able to use his problem solving math skills in an analyst role. “Once I sat down with him and explained that he would in fact be doing a lot of math, just not in the way he was used to, he became very excited about the analyst job.”

For this reason, Wyborny often takes on the role of mentor and really gets to know her candidates, in terms of their interests and goals in order to match them with appropriate opportunities.

2. Help revamp their resumes.

In Wyborny’s experience, the typical recent graduate’s resume hasn’t been written to adequately reflect their skills in the job market. So Wyborny takes it upon herself to help them reconstruct their resumes, by drawing out experience that may not typically be listed.

“There’s all sorts of pertinent experience that they aren’t coached to put on their resumes,” says Wyborny, For example, “for a software developer, I might say, ‘Hey, you have listed that you were a pizza chef, but pizza chef doesn’t translate into a software developer. Why don’t we start by putting some of your coursework down on here? How many software programs did you develop in school?” And what technology did you use? Did you work with a team?’”

Once they’ve made those changes to their resume, she says, someone more senior can look at it and go, “Oh, you built an Android application. Perfect, so you do know something about development.”

3. Urge hiring managers to conduct behavioral interviews instead of asking questions based only on experience.

One issue Wyborny finds often is when senior hiring managers interview Millennials, they complain that there’s nothing to talk about. “Because the Millennial doesn’t have a lot of job experience, it’s hard to ask them the same kinds of questions about their work history,” says Wyborny. “For example, you can’t really ask, ‘Where do you want to be in five years,’ because often they don’t have any idea.”

To get around this, she coaches hiring managers to use behavioral interview questions, that let the candidates answer their questions in a context that makes more sense to them, and then she coaches her candidates about how to use relevant information in their answers.

“You need to create an interview environment where they can talk about skills they acquired from doing their school projects,” she says, “or volunteer work or teaching abroad to demonstrate that they’re able to do the skill you’re asking them to do.” Often these candidates have the core business skill you want, whether it’s decision-making, relationship building, or problem solving, but they just can’t attach it to a business experience.

4. Skip positions with repetitive tasks.

Wyborny has found that jobs in which the employee has to do the exact same thing day after day don’t go over well with Millennials. In fact, she says, “I don’t even bother trying to place Millennials in those sorts of positions.”

“If it’s an operations type role that involves data entry and the person has to come in every day and essentially check off boxes, it’s not going to be interesting to them,” she says.

“Because of growing up with technology, they just have a very low threshold for repetitive tasks,” she explains. “They’ll make it maybe three months and they’re going to leave.”

“They want variety and they want to be making a difference,” she says. “That’s the theme I hear day after day. ‘I want my work to make a difference’.”

5. Have endless faith in their tech skills.

“I wouldn’t be too concerned about any particular technology skill that is missing from a Millennial’s experience,” says Wyborny. It just isn’t an issue with this generation. Because Millennials are digital natives, and were raised on computers and iPhones, even if they haven’t used a particular application, she finds that they can usually ramp up within a few weeks.

Additionally, Wyborny has had success placing Millennials in technology positions, such as SAP developers, where the conventional wisdom is that the candidate needs years of experience in the field before attempting to tackle the job. She has found that with some on the job training the candidates are often able to master complex and new technologies in a relatively short amount of time and can save employers a lot of money.

“I am well aware of the many millennial myths about them being hard to manage,” says Wyborny. “That just hasn’t been my experience. We’ve had a great success rate with our younger employees who come in with zero to five years of experience. It’s just about understanding a different generation, encouraging them, setting clear goals and making sure they know what to expect in the process.”

* image by Dropbox

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