Recruiting Top Millennial Talent



Generation Y, often termed the “millennials,” is now the largest segment of the United States’ total labor force participation (United States Census Bureau, 2015).  As a result, it’s more important than ever to focus on how we can recruit top millennial talent.  A good first step is to consider some common traits that millennials often share and how we can play off these characteristics they possess in our recruiting efforts.


1. Millennials are Tech Saavy + Connected:

The millennial generation does not remember a time without personal computers so technology is at the core of who they are and how they live.  When recruiting them, do your best to automate your application process and keep the pace moving.  They are accustomed to instant feedback and might not wait for your process!  Also, be sure to keep your websites updated and fresh because this will be the first place millennials visit to learn about your company.  They will also check your organization out on social media.  Find what social media outlets work best for your company and consider if you can get your own millennials involved in keeping them fun!  The fact is that there has been a 200% increase in people talking about their work experience (good or bad) on social media since 2012 (Phenomblue, 2016).  Whether we like it or not, social media is here to stay so let’s harness its power for good!


2. Millennials want to Make a Difference:

Millennials crave to make a difference at work from Day One, not years down the road after they’ve “paid their dues.”  In a Net Impact survey, 72% of millennial students and 53% of millennial workers believe having “a job where I can make an impact” is important to them or essential to their happiness.  In our recruiting efforts, we need to focus on short term opportunities and impact rather than always emphasizing stability, benefits and long-term potential.  Be sure to tell millennial candidates how they can contribute from the start, what jobs and clients they will be exposed to, how they can impact the company and what they might learn while with your organization.

Along with emphasizing how they will make a difference in your company, be sure to also tell them how your company is making a difference in the community and even the world.  Help them understand and connect to your company’s mission and values.  Give them examples of how your organization gives back and show them how they can expect to take part in those contributions, too.  Keep in mind that according to a 2012 study, 56% of millennials would take a pay cut to work somewhere that is changing the world for the better (The Good Guide).


3. Millennials want Development:

65% of millennials say personal development is the most influential factor in their current job (UNC, Maximizing Millennials in the Workplace, 2012) .  In recruiting efforts, we should do our best to emphasize training/learning, mentoring, and feedback  processes as much as possible.  So far as training, remember that “customization is the holy grail” according to Bruce Tulgan (author of Not Everyone Gets a Trophy: How to Manage Generation Y).  Personalized learning plans will go a long way with millennials, especially when they feature a variety of types of skill development.  Along with technical skills, management (e.g., delegation, delivering feedback) and leadership (e.g., change management, decision-making) skills are also welcomed with open arms by millennials.

Combine training with mentoring and frequent feedback and you’ll be on the right track in millennials’ eyes!  Also, remember that not all feedback has to be top-down.  millennials will also appreciate the opportunity to offer feedback to those above them.  They also like evaluating themselves in a self-review process.  Ask them about their challenges and achievements – and listen to what they have to say.


4. Millennials want Flexibility:

A recent report found that nearly half of millennials will choose workplace flexibility over pay (, 2013).  As a result, we must try to promote flexible work options whenever possible.  Flexibility can take many different forms including telecommuting, flextime, seasonal changes in schedule (e.g., Friday afternoons off in the summer), or working remotely on certain occasions.  However, even small freedoms such as being able to slightly adjust hours to fit in a work-out over lunch can go a long way with millennials. 

Along with flexibility in scheduling, we must also focus on benefits that support work/life balance.  It doesn’t always come down to the 401k plan for millennials.  Rather, they also enjoy “perks” that will allow them to spend time with family and enjoy themselves while they’re at work.  Think family outings to the zoo or an occasional coffee bar at the office.  These small “perks” can really add up to increase millennials’ job satisfaction and engagement.


5. Millennials are Creative + Entrepreneurial:

A UNC study found that 30% of millennials start a business in college.  Many employers allow this fact to frighten them rather than seeing it in a positive light: Millennials have natural leadership ability and are ready for a challenge!  When recruiting millennials, don’t assume that only creatives (i.e., graphic designers, marketing folks, etc) want to create.  All members of a company should be charged with innovation.  To help appeal to the entrepreneurial spirit of Millennials, emphasize any variety your company can offer in a career.  For example, a variety of career paths, clients, and/or industries are a great start.  Help millennials realize they won’t get bored!  Also, work to build innovation into your company.  It could be something as simple as holding your own Shark Tank competition! Millennials won’t need to start their own business if you allow them to innovate and think about how to improve your organization.


Above all, remember that millennials are more like other generations than they are different.  Millennials like challenging work, they like to be valued and know they are making a difference, and they like to have time to spend with their family and pursue their outside passions. Wouldn’t you say the same about yourself?





Marisa Gift is the Training and Development Manager at Lutz with over 15 years of experience. She helps shape the firm’s training and development strategy while also managing Lutz’s campus recruiting, orientation and mentoring programs.

  • Human Resources
  • Training
  • Leadership Development
  • Campus Recruiting
  • Performance
  • Association for Talent Development, Member
  • Human Resource Association of the Midlands, Member
  • Society for Human Resource Management, Member
  • BA in Communication Studies & Politics, Drake University, Des Moines, IA
  • MA in Communication, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
  • Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Publicity Committee
  • Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Music Ministry
  • Drake University National Alumni Board of Directors, Past Board Member


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