by: Nicole Nelson

Hiring Millennials

If you are recruiting, it is likely you are in the business of hiring millennials. Most of us have heard things about millennials over the years, many of them exaggerated stereotypes. Even so, it is very true that millennials are changing corporate culture and have different expectations than previous generations. So before we talk about hiring them, it’s important to have a clear concept of what “millennial” means.

  • Millennials were born between the early 1980’s and mid 1990’s. This means they range from their early twenties to mid to late thirties in age. The average age is thirty.

  • They are also called Echo Boomers as many of them are from the surging birth rates due to Baby Boomers having children.

  • As a whole, they are known to be very comfortable with digital media, technology, and communications.

  • There is a strong emphasis on work/life balance more than previous generations. In fact, this is a defining principle for them. It guides much of today’s evolving work practices.

  • Their lifestyle leanings are more liberal and individualistic. It is no surprise, therefore, that they are entrepreneurial and less conforming than the generations before.

  • They are more likely to quit a job and be picky about workplace standards.

  • They prefer casual over formal.

Now that we know some things about this huge chunk of applicants you will be working with, let’s dive in to hiring millennials and thinking ahead to retain them.

Have a Competitive Vacation, Benefits, and Perks Package

You simply will not be competitive with millennial jobseekers without something extra to offer. Many of your potential candidates are young and will flat out expect you to care about their work/life balance. In general, the bulk of jobseekers are shifting expectations as more and more data comes out about the effects of stress on health. It’s not just true for millennials. Investing now in taking extra care of your employees will very much pay off moving forward.

Get Comfortable With Digital Communication

Millennials are going to respond better to text messages and emails. While the old-fashioned principle of meeting in person or talking on the phone still holds value, it is not a millennial’s preferred method to communicate. Keep communication professional but friendly and casual. Don’t be afraid to text message prospects. Looking modern and flexible will win you more qualified prospects than rigidity around communication methods.

Be Honest and Clear About Roles and Expectations

In general, this generation wants to know what their career path is and how much they can make at your business. Lifestyle is a priority. Create job descriptions accordingly by offering a five year career path and defined pay scale. Tell them more than what the job is—they want the bigger picture and are more selective than you might think.

Millennials are generally less enticed by just a salary. Come ready with your selling points.

Which leads me to the next point.

Upgrade Your Work Culture

The old school “punching a clock” hierarchal office culture is very quickly dissolving into a relic of yesterday. As businesses learn more about the psychology behind productivity, they are upgrading and overhauling their workplaces and culture. Making offices comfortable, inviting, and accommodating is now becoming a standard. Adding a casual feeling where people feel accepted and individual is increasingly more practiced in industry.

Try adding some fun to your workplace. Provide healthy snacks. Allow schedule flexibility if possible. Loosen up your dress code. Find a way to make work appealing and comfortable. It is a very important part of retaining employees.

50% of millennials prefer unemployment to working a job they hate.

Don’t Make the Hiring Process a Rigorous Olympic Sport

Okay, so you want to find the right person and you want them to work hard for it. But if you make it too rigorous, it will turn off younger candidates. The tone will feel formal and aggressive. In short- outdated.

Millennials are shopping your workplace just as you are them. Walk them around the office. Tell them about the interview process before they show up. Give them a head start to success.

The playing field is still level if everyone gets the same generous treatment and you will make for a better interview experience and outcome.

Loosen Up Your Policy

I know this one is a challenge for many businesses but often times, policy equates to punitive measures for insignificant issues. Does your workplace focus on strength-based practices, self-management, and treating employees as though you value and trust them? Consider how culture has shifted in the last twenty years.

The younger generation communicates through social media. They are much more tattooed and pierced. They like to choose their hours. This does not make them less effective, professional, or productive. It is a cultural shift around lifestyle and work that can’t be ignored.

Take into account that much of your candidate pool is a culture that is looking for a comfortable place to work. They don’t want to feel like they have to tiptoe around outdated policies to keep their job.

Be Open to a Difference of Opinion

Often there is a generational gap between management and new hires. Millennials are looking for progressive attitudes about work and lifestyle. Regardless of differences of opinion, it is very important to project openness and acceptance when hiring and thereafter. Create a neutral workplace around politics that allows diversity and comfort for everyone at work. Try not to patronize younger employees or shame them for having different approaches to work. They are looking to be empowered and encouraged.

More than ever, it is best to keep politics out of the workplace due to the divisiveness it causes.

Offer Choices and Feedback

Let candidates have choices. Whether this be a preferred schedule, what kind of desk to have, what their sales rewards are, when to take lunch, or what their career path might be. This will be a millennial’s expectation.

In addition, keep conversations open about feedback. This generation likes open communication and conversations about progress. Rather than saving feedback for reviews, give it immediately, when it is most impactful. It also fosters trust to know things are addressed openly and in a timely manner.

The more choices around experience provided, the better the results. Even asking them how they learn best. It is all about customizing and optimizing experience based on the person.


Millennials are a great generation of creative thinkers, hard workers, and technology gurus. Happy hiring and good luck with the search!