Trying to Recruit Millennials? Here's What You Need to Know

Every generation has a unique influence on the job market.

With Baby Boomers (1946–1964), it was the creation of the mass office—cubicles and computers—and a devotion to the “nine-to-five” traditional calendar. Generation X (1965–1980) brought us the telecommuting worker, alongside the creation and implementation of the internet. Now, we are in the middle of the Generation Y era. Gen Y, commonly known as the Millennial Generation (1982–2000), is flooding the workplace and will soon become the largest working generation according to Pew Researchers.

For recruiters, this introduces a new challenge to stay relevant and meaningful to job seekers.

Millennials have already changed the job market considerably just within the past few years. They not only have a penchant for job hopping and prefer flexibility, but are also a part of the most educated generation entering the workforce, with over 63% of working millennials holding a bachelor’s degree or higher.

However you have come to understand the career needs of millennials, it is true that they have changed the recruiting game for good.

Want to recruit millennials for your company? Here are three key points to keep in mind.

Rethink Marketing to Millennial Employees

Just as marketers are trying to reach millennials, recruiters must also adjust to their needs and reach them where they spend their time. This goes beyond mobile and social media outreach, and into the cultural traits of the generation.

Surprisingly, millennials in general are extremely empathetic and consumer-conscious individuals. They are exposed to new viewpoints almost daily thanks to social media, and so they have become more accepting and supportive of others than any previous generation; as noted by The New York Times. 

They care about businesses that take the time and energy to be conscious of their community and environment. When looking at the psychology of purchasing decisions within the millennial generation, researchers found that, “91% of millennials prefer brands associated with a good cause compared to the US average of 85%,” and millennials “dislike deceptive advertising” (see USC Dornsife study on millennial psychology for more). They prefer honest brands with a history of integrity, and a history of being conscious of their impact on the earth.

For recruiters, this means that it’s essential to be honest about what you expect from an employee before they start. This can help prepare millennials for the road ahead, and could potentially encourage them to stay longer; lowering their chances of job-hopping and causing turnover.

Put a Heightened Focus on Company Culture

Company culture has always been a part of the hiring process, but now it seems more prominent than ever before. Millennials are breaking away from their parents’ ideas of “working for a paycheck” and instead seeking out careers that promise a path to bettering themselves. They have a strong desire to learn new techniques or ideas, and they care deeply about the people they work with.

However, company culture has also become a matter of metric, and recruiters are thinking about how this concept can be measured. As we shared on this blog when Greenhouse was named among New York City’s best places to work in 2015, “We know our success depends on the quality of our hires, so each and every one is a strategic and purposeful decision.” Hiring the right fit for a position goes beyond experience and expertise. It also requires a complete mesh with the company’s culture and team.

“When companies are great at hiring, it means that the people they hire belong there—that they have the skills and qualities to be an ace at their job, that they’re continuously challenged, and that they’re always improving and wanting to improve—both for the company’s sake and for their own personal sake.” Taking the time to define your company culture helps ensure that you attract and hire the right people, and having a clearly defined culture is especially important for millennials.

Define the Value of a Degree

As noted before, millennials are the most educated generation currently in the job market with over 63% holding a four-year (or more) college degree. Yet millennials are still suffering from unemployment and underemployment. As one study with Accenture Strategies found, over 51% of millennials believed they were underemployed in 2016; up from 41% in 2013.

The problem behind the underemployment lies in lack of experience. “Book smarts” only get someone so far, and many students that are fresh off their college campuses are forced to work small-time jobs to earn the experience of a more seasoned employee. There’s no doubt that for students, a degree grants them better opportunities and higher wages in the long run, but options right out of school can be scarce. With Baby Boomers retiring, recruiters and businesses are scouring the potential employee pool for experienced workers to fill the hole.

Thus, the question arises: How do you, as a recruiter, define the value of a degree? For many Baby Boomers, jobs were available for them right out the gate, so what has changed?

Adecco Staffing performed a survey of hiring managers in 2013 and found that “Sixty-six percent of hiring managers believe that new college graduates are unprepared for the workplace that awaits them, [and] GPA and the prestige of the college/university that the applicants attended are considered among the least important qualifications for a job.”

The perception of a degree has certainly evolved over the past few decades, and the demand for skilled workers in skilled positions has not helped post-grads. Instead, recruiters are faced with a massive pool of young, under-experienced workers with a promising educational background.

However, millennials’ dedication to continuing their education shows that they are willing and able to learn and adjust to a company’s needs. Giving them an opportunity with an entry-level position will offer them the growth (professional and personal) and learning they crave in a career.

With our evolving job market, the perception of education will continue to change, but recruiters can still rely on what a degree entails: a bright, eager, and open mind. Instead of hiring based on education, recruiters can hire on cultural fit and a candidate’s desire to better themselves through the company. You can also make sure to advertise whatever professional development opportunities exist at your company so millennials know they’ll always have room to grow.


For recruiters, the millennial generation has brought on its own unique set of advantages and challenges, but there’s no doubt that they’ve changed the hiring game for good.

When hiring a millennial, remember that the key to retention is happiness—and the key to happiness is culture, transparency, and a chance for growth. There are plenty of millennials waiting for you to find them, so be sure to give them a moment of your time.

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Katie Mc Beth Headshot

Katie McBeth is a freelance writer out of Boise, ID, with experience in marketing for small businesses and management. She spends her free time being the mother of three cats and a dog named Toby. You can follow her animal and writing adventures on Instagram or Twitter.

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