11 Ways Recruiters Can Attract Millennial and Gen Z Candidates

We know a few things about Millennials and Gen Z: they don’t trust lightly, they crave innovation and experiences, they love the entrepreneurial spirit, they express their need for growth, and have a tendency to disrupt and redefine industries.

So as a recruiter you’re in a tough spot; how to effectively attract talent right from the start. Old school recruiting tactics from 1994 don’t work as well these days getting Millennials and Gen Z talent to want to work for and stay with companies.

Don’t get me wrong, Millennials and Gen Z will happily work for companies.  Recruiters just need to approach younger talent carefully. The secret: they need to connect with them on a deeper level, communicate in ways that feel organic, and tell them the “Real Deal” truth (connecting to them as individuals).

If it all sounds a bit coddling, it really isn’t. It’s about treating your audience the way they want to be treated: The Platinum Rule.  Here are 11 ways recruiters can attract great Millennial and Gen Z talent.

Be Authentic

Not every company can be everything to everyone.  So be yourself.  Don’t pretend.  Not all companies have food, a full arcade, ping pong tables, video games and/or Massage Therapists (a la Facebook or Google). But for many companies, those perks wouldn’t even make sense to offer even if they could!

It is important that recruiters highlight perks that are relevant to the people in the industry they are hiring for. If the industry is technology, then having the latest technology and being a center of innovation and growth is a good sell. For a non-profit, it will be focusing on the tangible impact a candidate’s work will have. If it is the professional service industry, then experience and growth opportunities might be the right perks to highlight.

Whatever your industry, make sure to focus on the perks your candidates are likely to care the most about and that they compliment your company’s culture and values.

Go To Them

Millennials and Gen Z are not looking through the classifieds to find jobs. 86% of professionals in their first 10 years of their career use social media as part of their job search. If you want to get in front of the eyes of young talent, Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat are where you should be.

Don’t make the mistake of being everywhere, though. Spreading yourself too thin is likely to do more harm than good.

Be authentic and appear on the platforms that people in your industry are most likely to be on. Professional industry talent might more likely be on LinkedIn whereas creative talent will be on Medium and Instagram.

Use “depth not breadth” to make your efforts as effective as possible.

Highlight the Impact That They Will Make

It is incredibly important to Millennials and Gen Z that they feel they are making a difference with the work they do. During the interview process, Millennials will be looking for concrete examples of how they are going to be able to hit the ground running and contribute right away to the company’s mission. Recruiters should make sure they communicate how their company harnesses that youthful energy and provide examples of the types of opportunities young talent will have to make an impact.

Move Fast

Millennials and Gen Z have grown up with the world at their fingertips. Millennial talent knows it is coveted and it won’t wait around for you to slog through a long recruiting and onboarding process. Make sure the recruitment process is as swift and efficient as possible. This is the generation that invented Tinder after all!  However, make sure you’re getting the right fit.  They attract quickly, however, test fit.

Tell ‘Em What They Want to Hear

No, not Ping Pong tables or “dope swag.” Millennials and Gen Z want to hear how their work will contribute to the company, how the company contributes to its community, the types of  professional development opportunities the company offers, and the flexibility they will have in terms of working hours. These perks may not be flashy, but they are the ones that Millennials care about most.

Focus on the Experience of Your Workplace

Millennials kicked their parents habit of materialism and they are bringing their experience-first mindset to the workplace. They don’t just want to know what they will be doing at work, they want to know how they will be doing it. Are they going to be asked to connect to AOL via a dial-up connection or does the office have a modern internal messaging platform? Do senior staff take the time to connect and mentor younger staff? Do their colleagues spend time together outside of the office for happy hour or team building?

The experience of the workplace is nearly as important as the work itself and young talent will be weary of companies that aren’t eager to share the day-in-the-life of their employees.

Show Off Your Diversity

Millennials are a diverse bunch and they want their employer to reflect that. They are on the lookout for people from different backgrounds professionally, culturally, sexually, and geographically. It is important to them that they work for companies that are actively trying to break down social barriers, be more inclusive, and provide opportunities for all people. Highlighting these efforts will be important to catch the attention of Millennials and Gen Z.

Share Your Company Story

Millennials killed off brands that didn’t have a compelling, original or meaningful story driving their company’s mission and they will happily walk away from employers who come off as similarly shallow.

If you have a great company story (and we all do!) make sure it gets shared during the recruitment process.Your story should tell why your company does what it does, why your people come to work fired up everyday, and how that purpose is found throughout your organization.

Having a genuine story of why your company does what it does can be the difference between landing and losing young talent.

CSR Policies are Important

Millennials and Gen Z care about the environment and their community and they want the companies they work for to be equally invested. Recruiters should make sure to share tangible and specific examples of how they are putting the environment and their communities first with their Millennial and Gen Z talent.

Provide a Roadmap to the Future

Young talent craves professional development and the chance to move through (and up) a company. It isn’t so much about the big corner office and fat paychecks; Millennials want to know about how their skills will be honed, what areas they might become experts in, and how their position might help them take on larger roles in the future.

For people who have lived through wars and a recession, they want a clear picture of how their current position will help set them up with greater stability in the future.

Let Them Meet Current “Team” of Millennials

Let Millennials and Gen Z meet your Millennials! The chance to spend half a day with your younger talent is a great way to show how your company caters to younger generations in tangible ways, demonstrates a transparency that Millennials respect, and allows for your current Millennial talent to be your brand ambassador.

How to Prepare Your Workplace to Attract Gen Z Talent

Have you worked tirelessly to establish a workplace environment and policies perfectly tailored for attracting Millennial talent?

If so, great work! It’s time to do it again.  

Gen Z, a generation of 60 million young Americans born between 1996 and 2011, is now only a few years away from entering the workforce.

And if you assume Gen Z will be similar to Millennials with the hopes that your Millennial workplace will satisfy the Gen Z workforce, you may be sorely disappointed.

Here is what you need to know about Gen Z to prepare your workplace for their arrival and to avoid missing out on the wave of young talent they are sure to bring.

Who is Gen Z?

Born after 9/11, knowing nothing of the dark pre-social-media age, and raised in a recession while playing videogames with their unemployed Millennial siblings, Gen Zers are a distinct generation all their own.

Coming of age amidst the Great Recession and wars in the Middle East, their place in history has molded the traits that define Gen Z.  Traits which, as Alex Williams notes in the New York Times, more closely resemble the Baby Boomers than any other recent generation.

They are a generation that wants stability. They want to make an impact on the world. They value authenticity. They are socially accepting. And they also show signs of being fairly nice compared to other generations.

And that is all well and good. Many employers will be excited about welcoming any generation other than Millennials. But how do employers cater to this young and massive generation?

Loyalty and Stability are Critical For Attracting Gen Z

During the last 10 years, Millennials and employers have developed an unfortunate understanding: both see the other as replaceable, and neither expects any long-term loyalty from the other.

With Gen Z, employers may be able to bank on more long-term loyalty. As Jeremy Finch reports on FastCompany, “We found that while Gen Z like the idea of working for themselves, the majority are risk-averse, practical, and pragmatic” and that Gen Z is shying away from the flashiness of developing the next great app and instead “…are biased in favor of financial stability.”

They show their pragmatism through their desire to be trained and invested in by traditional employers. In fact, “84% of new grads expect to receive formal, on-the-job training.”  

The reward for employers willing to invest in Gen Z appears to be loyalty. According to members of Gen Z studied, “62% [saying] they expect to stay at their first job for at least three years,” a far cry from the job hopping Millennials.

This presents a big shift in how employers and employees relate to one another. If you are an employer who does not want to miss out on the talent coming from Gen Z’s, the message is clear: invest in them. Provide them the professional development opportunities they crave and in return for your investment you will receive the loyalty you may not have ever received from Millennials.

They Want You To Help Them Save the World

Gen Zers have made it clear to retailers during their teen years that if retailers want their money, they need to actively demonstrate social responsibility. Think Tom’s shoes or Warby Parker. These are socially conscious companies whose brands are closely tied with their effort to make the world a better place.

And when they hit the workforce, they are going to expect the same from employers.

Though still in college now, employers can expect job interviews with Gen Z to be peppered with questions about your company’s values, its efforts to support the local community, its CSR policy and what volunteer opportunities you offer your employees.

And employers damn well better have a genuine, authentic answer.

Because Gen Z doesn’t just talk the talk: 26% of Gen Zers are already volunteering and 76% are concerned with man’s impact on the planet. They have a genuine belief that they can change the world and they are going to expect their employers to help them in their mission to do so.

Flexibility and Openness for Employers is Big

Though Gen Z is more cautious and willing to succeed within “the system,” they will also be expecting the continuation of progressive workplace policies that emphasize multiculturalism, acceptance of all people, and work-life balance.

Employers need to keep in mind Gen Z’s historical context: they come on the heels of social changes that have seen a 400% increase in multiracial marriages, a 50% increase in multiracial youth, and less emphasis on gender roles. Gen Z has also grown up with a black president, legal gay marriage and the legalization of marijuana in several states.

What does all of this mean?  If employers want the loyalty that Gen Z potentially offers, they need to make sure that their workplace environments and policies reflect the world that Gen Z has been raised in. That includes everything from the obvious (equal pay for men and women) to more creative flexible schedules, telecommuting opportunities, and other work-life balance benefits.

The good news about adjusting your workplace for the incoming Gen Zers is that those adjustments will result in a better workplace environment overall. What workplace couldn’t benefit from more professional development opportunities for staff, starting social conscious and CSR initiatives or making workplace policies more in line with the times?

As I always like to remind people, each generation has its own quirks, but they are all share more similarities than they have differences. It is universal human nature to want to have a meaningful experience at work, have the opportunity to learn, and be accepted by their colleagues. It will be the employers who understand these foundational human values that will be able to evolve fast enough to harness the young talent that sits on the horizon.