Recruiting and Hiring Younger Generations

Evan Hackel

The steps that you company needs to take to hire people who are members of the younger generations are different from the steps you have traditionally followed when hiring people from the older generations. Job applicants from the younger generations are looking to be inspired and have a clear understanding of the opportunity you are offering them. Having said that, let me add that hiring steps that you use when recruiting members of the younger generations work great for all generations today.

What is the best way to hire younger generations workers?

That is a very unintelligent question to ask, but a very intelligent one too.

It is unintelligent, because on a lot of levels, hiring younger generations is just like hiring anyone else. You define the job you need filled and pinpoint the skills and aptitudes that it takes to do it. You run ads, network to find strong candidates, post the job in your company’s job listings, and find ways to attract interest from potential job applicants. You give interviews, screen, check references and follow the steps you can read about in any book on good hiring practices – we don’t need to delve into them for you in this book. And you follow a similar set of steps, whether you are recruiting younger generations, baby boomers, or anyone else.

That’s why “What are the most effective ways to recruit strong younger generations workers?” is a dumb thing to ask. But it is a very intelligent question too, because there are certain things you need to focus on if you’re going to be more effective in hiring younger generations.

When seeking to fill any job, there is always an element of selling involved, which is really the art of convincing your strongest candidates to come on board after you have found them, not to take other jobs they are considering.

In the old way of hiring new employees, job applicants sold themselves to companies. Today, that has changed. The applicant is still being interviewed but today, the company is being interviewed too. And when recruiting younger generations, hiring companies need to bear in mind that there are certain important attributes that younger generations are looking for – attributes like an exciting environment, a clear and understandable path to advancement, a chance to exercise personal autonomy while still being part of a stimulating team, and more.

The Traditional Process
The company advertises for positioning on a job board.  The applicant sends in a resume nicely worded cover letter as to why they would be perfect for the job.  All the applicants are reviewed, a few are selected for the next step which is a phone interview.  After the phone interview pool of candidates are reduced down and invited her in person meetings.

The candidates now interview for the job, they’re selling themselves to the company.  Company may require some aptitude testing, drug testing etc. after the process is simply an applicant has offered the job.

The process is fairly one-sided, the applicant is primarily selling themselves to the company.

The problem is this will not work with younger generations. they are not stuck with the same pre-conceived notions that you don’t ask questions and just be happy someone offered you a job.  They want to know more about the company, what the company values.  They want to understand their role, they want to understand what successes in that role and how they could get promoted if they did a good job.

The old model is one-sided the new model needs to be two-sided. If you want to hire the best and retain the best younger generational talent.  I would also argue the same techniques will improve the quality of hiring with every generation including baby boomers.

Here are the keys.

Talk to Younger Generations About Your Company’s Values and Mission

Generalizations tend to be . . . well, general. But the fact remains that most younger generations don’t want to work for just any company. They hope to contribute their efforts and hours to a company that stands for something beyond making and making money. They want to share in the vision of your company. They hope that working for your company will be in some way important.

Set Out the Specifics

Younger generations like to have specifics spelled out. Even though they have earned a reputation for being “loosey-goosey” and casual, most of them are not. The more specific and concrete you get in setting out expectations and procedures, the more they will want to come on board.

Stress Autonomy, Creativity and Entrepreneurship

In general, younger generations like to express themselves through their jobs – not to be “cogs in a machine.” They like to make decisions, implement plans, and make a personal, recognizable contribution to the companies where they work.

Introduce Job Applicants to Future Supervisors and Team Members

It is again a generalization. But being part of a team is often more important to younger generations than it is to Boomers or members of other age groups. For many younger generations, teamwork counts – even though they want to be strong, recognized individuals.

There is no doubt that Baby Boomers value teamwork too. But for them, it is generally more optional than mandatory.

Take Extra Care to Be Sure the Job Is a Good Fit

Why is it especially important to consider job fit when hiring younger generations? One obvious reason is that good fit helps assure that the younger generations will perform well in their new jobs. That’s a given. But there’s a subtler reason too, which is that younger generations are generally less likely to stay in jobs that they find frustrating, overly difficult to perform, or repetitive and dull. With greater speed than Boomers, younger generations will quit jobs and move quickly to other jobs.

That is not because younger generations lack company loyalty or are “job hoppers.” It is because they want to enjoy a sense of progress, skill, and accomplishment in their daily work. If you hire them and they leave you soon, you will have to incur the costs of repeating and retraining new workers.

Action Step: Review current and future job openings in your organization and consider why younger generations might – or might not – be the best recruits for them.

Recruit Using High-Technology Apps and Websites

It has often been noted that younger generations love to use high-technology devices and apps. That is true. It is also true that Boomers and members of other age groups often like high technology too. For that reason, we believe that using the latest online and app-based recruiting tools is a good idea today, no matter whom you are trying to hire.

But there is one additional reason to post jobs on platforms like LinkedIn. That reason is that people who find your jobs using those services will be technologically savvy, as opposed to individuals who find your jobs by looking at lower-tech tools like your company’s job postings, or old-fashioned job ads in newspapers. (Yes, they still exist.) Using high-tech ways to reach applicants is a way to be sure that the applicants who find you and apply will already possess a high level of technical and computer skills.

Action Step: Meet with some of your younger generations employees and ask them which tools they would use to look for jobs if they were on the market today.

Offer Training that Supports Job Performance and Advancement

All workers feel reassured when they understand that they will get the training they need to fulfill the tasks that are part of their jobs. That knowledge goes a long way toward alleviating any insecurities that applicants might feel about whether they have the skills they need to perform well, how they will learn systems that they will need to use, and more.

Yet for boomers who are considering job offers, the promise of training can be a big determining factor that convinces them to choose your company. Think again for a moment about John and his promised place in his franchise’s management training program.

Training would not only be a factor in promoting his performance and future growth on the job. It was a major reason he chose to come on board.

Some Effective Interview Questions to Ask Younger Applicants

  • What is important to you?
  • What excites you?
  • What frustrated you most in your prior jobs?
  • This is what our company stands for . . . does it resonate with your values?
  • Where do you hope to be in your career in one year, in two years, and further into the future?
  • What kind of personal skills and aptitudes would you like to bring to your job with us?
  • Here is a copy of the job description for the position we are hoping to fill . . . how would you enlarge and expand it to make it more exciting and rewarding? Are there any duties or skills you would like to see us add to it, or take away?
  • How important to you is learning on the job?
  • We value and reward team work. How important is that to you? Can you describe team experiences you have had in the past?
  • We offer great training, including a management and leadership training program. Would you like to be involved?

A Final Thought on Jobs that Offer No Advancement

As we close this chapter, this is a good time to mention the fact that some jobs do not promise advancement – yet you still need to fill them. A related consideration is the fact that not every job applicant is looking for a position that promises career growth or a long period of employment.

If you are hiring food servers for a restaurant, for example, the jobs you are offering might, or might not, promise promotions. If you are hiring automotive service writers for a large dealership, the same could be true.

And plenty of other positions that attract younger generations fall into that same “no promotions ahead” category. Maybe you are hiring short-term summer employees to park cars at your theme park, or at NASCAR races. Or maybe you are hiring brand ambassadors to set up and monitor store displays. Or maybe you’re looking for young, strong workers to work in the yard of your lumber yard or garden store.

From the other side of the hiring relationship, there are some applicants – not matter their age or demographic group – who are not looking for long-running jobs or advancement. Consider one classic example, an actor who only wants to work in your restaurant until that “big break” comes along.

In cases like those, promising advancement will not do much to fill your job or jobs. You can set aside many of the observations we have made in this chapter and follow a more streamlined and straightforward approach to hiring that centers on recruiting candidates with good employment records, appropriate skills, and a good attitude.

When you come right down to it, a great attitude could be the most important attribute of any, whether you are hiring young college grads, elders who are seeking jobs to work during their retirement years, or anyone in between.

In Conclusion . . .

Although many younger generations are looking for jobs today, it is a mistake to assume that the best of them will find their way to the jobs you need filled. It takes some specific skills – those that we have explored in this chapter – to recruit the best candidates from the younger generations generation.

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