Generalizations about different generations are often overstated and can even get outright silly. People have been complaining for centuries about “kids these days” while failing to remember the habits and characteristics they themselves exhibited in their youth.
Recognizing that all generalizations should be taken with a grain of salt, it is true that millennials grew up in a very different world than their parents, and even than people born ten years earlier than them. As millennials now make up a third of the workforce, anyone in a hiring position has good reason to work at understanding how those differences have shaped the generation their business needs (and should want) to hire.
The Trends That Have Shaped Millennials
The lives of millennials have been significantly influenced by a few key events and trends of the past couple of decades.
The first is obvious. People on the older end of the millennial age range (those in their late 20s and early 30s now) typically had years with the internet by the time they reached college. Those on the younger end of the spectrum were social media savvy by the time they reached high school. The technological advancements of the past two decades have been so significant, that there’s even a pretty big gap in how old and young millennials use technology. Mobile devices, social media, and Google have all made their mark on what the world looks like. For millennials, many of these tools that are shaping how marketing looks today have been around for most or all of their adult lives.
The recession hit right around the time many millennials were currently attending undergraduate college, or had just finished. The slagging economy made it harder to get jobs, which meant many started at lower salaries than previous generations or took employment outside of the profession of their choice. To make matters worse, most millennials that attended college carry a significant amount of student debt. The average amount of debt for students graduating in 2014 was nearly $30,000. The recession meant that millennials have faced a different – and starker – financial reality than most of the generations that came before.
Millennials have seen the nation vote for its first black President, were instrumental in the fight for marriage equality, and have grown up in a world where women in professional roles have always felt like the norm. As such, it should be no surprise that they’re far more liberal on social issues than the generations that came before. They value social progress in greater numbers than older generations and tend to be politically conscious as a group.
The Benefits of Hiring Millennials for Marketing
Somewhere in the past few years, millennials started to get tagged with labels like “lazy” and “entitled.” Most people who have worked with millennials quickly realized those accusations are largely unfounded. Millennials actually have a lot to offer. They may have a different work ethic than some members of earlier generations, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have one.
They understand how to reach other millennials.
Not all millennials “get” all other millennials, because they’re not a homogenous group. But even so, they will have a closer grasp on the types of life experiences, technology trends, and values of their peers than older generations will.
Chances are, someone in your target audience (or in the target audience of your clients) is a millennial. If your business doesn’t know how to talk to them or where to reach them because everyone working for you is older than they are, you’re limiting yourself. Bringing in young talent can help open your eyes to trends and ideas that older generations haven’t encountered.
They’re generally a pretty tech savvy bunch.
As covered in the trends section above, millennials have been using much of the tech that’s used in marketing today from a young age. That means it’s more familiar and natural to them. And one millennial stereotype does seem to be backed up by data – they’re on social media in droves and use it regularly. Social media’s easily marked its territory as one of the most important marketing channels, but it’s one that many companies still struggle with. Millennial marketing professionals can often be crucial in filling in the gaps in social media knowledge and skills in your company.
In spite of their reputation, they are loyal.
Somehow millennials managed to gain a reputation for job hopping – even though it’s not true. Pew Research found that millennials stay in their jobs longer than Generation X did at the same age. That’s no guarantee that millennials you hire will stick around for a while, but there’s no reason to think they’ll be any more likely to leave for another job faster than anyone else you hire.
Like every generation, there are plenty of smart, hard-working candidates in the bunch.
As much as stereotypes suggest otherwise, these sorts of things aren’t really generational traits. Just as there were lazy baby boomers and Gen Xers, there are lazy millennials. But every generation also has its share of insightful, thoughtful, hard-working members as well. Base your opinion of each millennial you meet on their own behavior and performance, not their age range.
Tips for Hiring Millennials
So now you know why you need them, but how do you recruit them? Here are a few tips to make your company more attractive to millennials.
Make jobs easy to find and apply to on mobile.
Can you imagine doing your job search on a mobile device? However that may sound to you, it’s something millennials are doing. 86% of job candidates use their smartphone to start the job search and 70% prefer having the option to apply that way. Making sure your job ads and application process are all accessible via mobile not only makes it easier for millennial job seekers to find you, it also tells them something about your culture. You show them that you’re a company that’s not stuck in the past, but one where technology is appreciated and their online skills will likely be valued.
Give them room to be creative.
While many of the things millennials value in work are similar to what other generations do – they want to be financially successful and leave their children better off than they are, for example – they also prioritize creativity as an aspect of work that’s important to them. For marketing positions, that’s a great trait for candidates to have. Even though marketing jobs often naturally lend themselves to creativity, making sure that each millennial candidate you hire has room to generate and try out new ideas will make the work more challenging and rewarding to them.
Don’t offer them a job – offer them a career with clear advancement opportunities.
When asked what the most important benefit a job can offer them is, the most common answer millennials gave was training and development. They don’t just want a job; they want to know they’ll have opportunities for learning and improving. Millennials are forward thinking enough to care not just that they’ll have a paycheck this month, but that they’ll also have the skills and knowledge to make sure the paychecks keep coming and regularly grow.
Prioritize benefits that relate to work-life balance.
The second most valued benefit on that list is flex-time. Millennials are very concerned with work-life balance, something many of them watched their parents struggle with. Due to their insistence on not only finding their work rewarding, but also making sure there’s room for life outside of it, more companies are offering benefits that make work-life balance more achievable, like flex-time, generous parental leave time, and even unlimited vacation time. These types of benefits show that you don’t expect your employees to have loyalty and trust in you without repaying them with the same.
Salary still matters.
While career advancement and work-life balance play a more important role in how millennials see the value of a job, that doesn’t mean they’re willing to trade away a healthy salary for those things. They’ve got student debts to pay off, restaurants they want to try, places they want to visit – not to mention wanting to eventually buy a home and have a family like all other generations. Everyone needs money to live and follow their passions and millennials are no different. It should go without saying, but hiring top millennial marketing talent requires offering a competitive salary. Millennials put the compensation package at the top of the list of things they need to consider to decide to go with a job, so make the one you offer good.
Like any other creative, ambitious employee you bring onto your team, new millennial hires will bring fresh ideas into your marketing mix. Their age will ultimately have less to do with how well they’ll perform in your marketing department than factors like their skill set, their work ethic, and how good of a fit they are with the company. Nonetheless, their age may well bring with it some added benefits for you and your team. Give them some space to grow and thrive and see what comes of it.Icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com is licensed under CC BY 3.0