The millennial generation isn’t the future of the American workforce—it’s the present. Recruiting strategies that haven’t adjusted to the millennial generation’s strengths and potential are behind the curve; not recognizing the habits and preferences of younger workers will put a company at a severe competitive disadvantage.
Here are some of millennials’ behaviors, activities, and expectations that shape how they seek, apply, accept, and engage in their jobs:
- Network influenced: With social media and other instant communications applications always accessible, millennials are most influenced by friends, personal contacts, and word of mouth when making major decisions. In their job searches, they care about company reputation and will seek out information from their networks to get a full perspective of the opportunity. And in 2016 and beyond, their networks stretch farther than ever before—to all ends of the omni-channel, which is why a broad recruiting strategy is so important.
- Digital first, and in some cases, digital only: Online is not only the first source of information for millennials; for some, it is the only resource they have ever utilized to find the information they require. In their job searches, millennials rely heavily on online resources, with the corporate career site being the most important.
- Time/attention constrained: Millennials spend the greatest amount of time online (35 hours per week) and on their cell phones (14.5 hours per week) compared with other generations.¹ They also switch their attention between media platforms at a higher rate (27 times per hour, compared with the 17 times per hour for previous generations).² To grab their attention, websites, including career sites, should use clear and simple navigation, and have just the right amount of real and authentic information.
- Content hungry: With information always available and often right at their fingertips, millennials expect to have a wealth of data and insights to inform important decisions. They will check a company’s career site, social media presence, YouTube, and review sites, and they will use search engines to find compelling stories about the company’s culture. Organizations in today’s employment marketplace can take advantage of this tremendous opportunity to capture the eyes and ears of millennials, if not just to establish a memorable brand for potential candidates.
- Living in a mobile world: An estimated 279.3 million Americans use the Internet, and of that number, 41.6 million access it solely via mobile devices. Another 227.7 million will surf the Web on traditional computers and mobile devices; only 10 million access the Internet exclusively on laptops and/or desktops.³ For millennials, these numbers cement the importance of the digital job search, because at any moment, if they want to investigate an opening or the reputation of a company—as well as apply—they can use their smartphones or tablets to do so. Companies should be ready now for that moment.
- More connected: Many people have lamented how the digital age has cheapened communication because we are not directly speaking to each other as often. This criticism overlooks the fact millennials are more connected to each other than other generations ever have been. The communication simply has changed: Texts, instant messaging, and social media now complement face-to-face interaction—and can exponentially spread that interaction to more people. Millennials value the opinions of their expanded circles, so when they hear good things about an employer from their friends, it carries more weight.
- Always hunting: Because finding, applying, and accepting a job has become so much easier in this digital age, being on the lookout for new employment is as simple as using your smartphone. Therefore, many millennials are continually on the hunt for a new job, even if they are happy with their current jobs, and even if they don’t actively want something new. This hunt could include diligently checking job boards and companies’ career websites, or it could be as basic as subscribing to a company’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram feed. A better opportunity might be out there, and millennials aren’t afraid to pounce if that opportunity crosses their path.
- Brand savvy: Never underestimate the value of a strong employer value proposition (EVP) with millennials. Even desperately unemployed job seekers won’t apply at a company that they don’t respect or don’t see any chance of engagement or advancement. One study discovered that making the world a better place via their jobs was important to 64 percent of millennials; 88 percent prefer a collaborative work culture.⁴ If your EVP doesn’t reflect priorities such as these, millennials will keep looking until they find a company that does.
Technology has obviously impacted how millennials see their lives related to work, but the economy they have grown up in has been a factor as well. Except for a few years of recession that didn’t impact them as much as other generations that were hammered, millennials have known mostly stable economic times. Both factors—technology in the mobile age and the economy in the digital age—have profoundly affected how millennials view their careers.
Millennials now comprise the largest segment of the U.S. workforce. Tuning-in to millennial job-related behaviors is critical in determining how to market to this generation.
1. “Millennials Spend More Time With Digital Than Traditional Media, But…,” Marketingcharts.com, July 1, 2014.
2. “By the Year 2020, Almost Half of the Workforce Will Be Made Up of These People.”
3. “US Internet Users Rely on Mobile Devices for Digital Access.” emarketer.com
4. “What Millennials Want in the Workplace (And Why You Should Start Giving It to Them).” Forbes.com, Jan. 13, 2014.