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aleks-peterson-thumbThis is a guest article by Aleksandr Peterson. Aleksandr  is a technology analyst at TechnologyAdvice. He covers marketing automation, human resources, CRMs, project management, and other emerging business technology. Connect with him on LinkedIn.


According to a May report from Pew Research, there are now over 53 million millennials in the American  workforce, making them the single largest group at 34 percent.

As thousands of millennials graduate from college and enter the job market, recruiters are scrambling to attract talent from this massive demographic, which for some reason has proven elusive, enigmatic, and more choosy than their predecessors. Over half of all hiring managers say they have a difficult time finding and keeping millennial talent.

A technology-driven strategy is one of the best ways to break through: use your HR software to customize multi-channel recruiting campaigns — from job postings to applicant tracking, screening, and onboarding — that appeal directly to millennials.

How to Pique and Keep Their Interest

As an archetype in the HR world, the millennial has been oft-exaggerated, and seldom taken at face value. Millennials are pampered narcissists. Millennials are profoundly creative. Millennials can code by age five, but never stay at one job longer than a month. You’ve probably heard some of these stereotypes. Most are unhelpful to recruiters, and largely untrue.

That said, most millennials do share some common priorities when searching for a job:

  • They value a healthy work/life balance
  • They’re attracted to positive company culture and competitive perks
  • They thrive on feedback and mentorship
  • They want to be treated as unique individuals
  • They seek opportunities to grow and develop their skillset
  • They use mobile devices and digital media to find openings

Millennials also tend to be less forward than prior generations. Twenty years ago, an applicant might have donned a suit and tie and showed up at the front desk to hand in their resume. Now, candidates scout out the company online before they make a decision. They read the about page, search the web for employee reviews, look at Facebook photos, investigate the benefits package, and then, if they’re still interested, they might upload a digital copy of their resume through LinkedIn.

Recruiters will fail to reach millennials if all they do is put an ad in the paper and wait to see who bites. That’s why progressive companies are aligning their recruitment efforts more with the inbound marketing model than with traditional advertising. But if you’re still using dated systems or paper-based methods, you’ll have limited or no tools for making that happen. The best HR software goes beyond basic payroll and time tracking and gives you the ability to customize a candidate search that targets specific kinds of talent in specific places. It’s no surprise that the recruiting software sub-market has swelled with venture capital funding in recent years and is now worth more than $1.5 billion.

5 Ways to Make it Happen

  1. Recruit On Social Media

Almost 90 percent of young adults with internet access use social networking sites. If you aren’t leveraging social media in your recruiting efforts, you’re missing out on some of the biggest hotbeds of millennial talent — especially LinkedIn, which accounts for the lion’s share of social recruiting. According to a recent study by Jobvite, 94 percent of recruiters use social media during their campaigns, and 78 percent have hired at least one candidate through social. Over half of all leading HR software now integrates with social networking sites.

  1. Recruit on Mobile

Just as millennials use mobile devices to manage their personal affairs, they also use them to find jobs. Nine out of 10 job seekers say they’ll probably use a mobile device at some point during their search. There are a couple ways you can leverage HR software to reach these candidates:

  1. a) Use your platform’s pre-built integrations with mobile job listing apps
  2. b) Choose a platform that offers tools for building your own mobile-optimized career site
  1. Get Personal

Millennials don’t want to be treated like numbers. Does anyone, for that matter? Prove that you’re actively interested in each candidate by crafting screening questions that address personal topics, as well as professional. E.g. ask about hobbies, special interests, or have the applicant upload a headshot. Some recruiters even have applicants pitch ideas during the screening process, which lets them make a personal investment and opens the door for feedback early on.

  1. Try Unconventional Screening Techniques

Anyone who’s been to a couple interviews is familiar with the textbook greetings and textbook questions. If you stick with the predictable approach, don’t expect to get sincere, inspired answers. Millennials are attracted to companies that color outside of the lines, so don’t be afraid to ask a bizarre question or try something new, like a video interview instead of a phone call. More than 60 percent of HR managers say they regularly conduct hiring interviews through video conferencing.

  1. Lead with Workplace Culture

One of the first things a millennial will want to know is what it’s like to work for your company. How is the work/life balance? How is your company active in the community? You can make these things clear up front by including them in the initial job posting, or by asking applicants what kind of atmosphere they would thrive in. For example, did you know that 56 percent of employees would trade a salary increase for certain perks, like flexible hours, work-from-home opportunities, or free gym memberships?

Closing Thoughts

Even though millennials account for over a third of the current workforce, don’t lose sight of the whole picture. If you spend all of your energy trying to be mobile and social and digital and magical, you might forget that millennials are just people, and many of the common generalizations about them are true of all job seekers. In other words, don’t ONLY try to attract millennials. Focus on creating a more meaningful recruitment process across the board.