Apparently, I’m an X-ennial.
Born right on the edge of the ’80s and just missing solid membership in either of two key generational groups—Generation X and the Millennials—I was an ’80s kid (Saturday morning cartoons!) and a ’90s kid (I love the Internet!) As a result, I feel unique kinship to and empathy for the needs, complaints, and concerns of members of both of these generations.
I also find myself particularly drawn to (and often frustrated by) topics related to the generational divide. So, I was particularly eager to sit in on Susan Vitale’s RecruitCon 2018 session on the Outlook on the 2025 Workplace: How to Attract the Next Generation of Talent by Effectively Recruiting Millennials and Gen Z.
Vitale is the Chief Marketing Officer at iCIMS, a company you may recognize from its suite of applicant tracking and recruiting software solutions. One of the benefits of working for a company like iCIMS is access to a database of over 3500 customers and 61 million applications, information that has proven useful in analyzing trends and conducting research on recruitment and retention.
Why Do We Still Care?
Now, if you’re not like me, you may be sick of hearing about Millennials by now, and Vitale recognizes this fact right off the bat in her presentation. Many people are tired of hearing about Millennials, and may even be preemptively tired of having to hear about the upcoming workforce-ready group, Generation Z. But, Vitale reminds us, there’s an important reason to consider this subject, and it’s not because Millennials and Generation Z are special unicorns who require coddling, participation ribbons, and special attention.
It’s because they’re going to make up 55% of the workforce by 2025.
We need to be respectful of that fact and better understand the needs of our current and future workers. So, thanks to that database of applications and a wealth of additional research and surveys, Vitale offers fantastic guidance and trends for these generations and ways you can improve your recruitment and retention efforts to bring them into your workforce.
(Vitale also quickly reminds us to focus on individuals and what they personally need. Just as we wouldn’t ask, “What do women need out of their careers” and expect a one-size-fits-all approach, we need to approach this generational outlook as a set of suggestions, not absolutes.)
Look Beyond College Major, But Be Careful When Expecting Prior Work Experience.
Vitale reports that 81% of current college seniors would accept a job outside their academic majors. This may not come as an initial surprise, but note that this perspective isn’t just limited to those with liberal arts or difficult to market degrees, but to those with science degrees, as well. Fortunately, hiring managers are also comfortable looking beyond college majors, so, Vitale asked what factors, other than major, are most important to them.
Topping the list, 71% of respondents noted that past work experience is a factor that matters even more than a candidate’s major. Yet, Vitale quickly cautions us—and even admits that her own organization sometimes struggles with this—to avoid unrealistic expectations for work experience in entry-level talent.
First, don’t fall into the trap of allowing your job listing, especially at entry-level, to reflect the “perfect” candidate, rather than the skills a candidate would require to be successful in the role. Be realistic and expect that these applicants may require a bit of additional nurturing and mentoring. Again, this isn’t because they’re Millennials or Gen-Zers. It’s because they’re 20-somethings beginning their careers. We all needed a little additional nurturing at that point.
But further, understand that if your job listings are unrealistic, you may be turning away talent, not only affecting the generational diversity of your workforce, but also the gender diversity. Vitale cites a well-known Hewlett Packard study in which men were found to be more likely than women to apply for jobs for which they didn’t fulfill all the listed requirements.
Specifically, men feel comfortable applying for a position when they have around 60% of the required skills, experience, etc., whereas women are far more likely to walk (or click) away if they’re anything less than 100%.
So, when a listing requires 3 years’ experience for an entry-level role, consider what it is that you’re expecting those years of experience to bring to the table and whether those skills may have been obtained or demonstrated in other ways (extracurricular activities, a strong GPA, or even natural talent, such as with communication or leadership skills).
Don’t Overgeneralize—Money Does Matter
Vitale also tackles the common assumption that Millennials really just want rewarding work and that money doesn’t matter to them. Sorry, not so.
A couple of years ago when iCIMS asked recruiting organizations what they thought Millennials really cared about, the most common response was that Millennials want to work for socially responsible organizations and that they just want to work “for good people who do the right thing.” Then the candidates were asked what they care about: “Money. Number one.”
Keep in mind that most Millennials aren’t so young anymore. Last week during another conference I attended, a speaker reminded the audience that “the oldest Millennials are 37 years old.” Several attendees were surprised—I was more surprised by the chorus of “wow” that followed that statement.
Remember, we’ve been discussing Millennials for years; meanwhile, they’ve been growing up, building careers, starting families, and developing the same needs and expectations as the generations before them, including compensation needs. So, fair and competitive compensation and financial incentives do matter to Millennials, as do opportunities for advancement within the organization.
When Generation Z members were asked about their must-haves, health insurance topped the list, followed by competitive salary, a boss he or she can respect, professional growth opportunities, maternity/paternity leave, and the ability to change roles within the company.
So, what’s a competitive salary? Those expectations are also on the rise—the college class of 2018 expects an average of $54,010 as the entry level salary for their first job. But note that recruiters are also expecting to pay more—an average of $56,532 for entry level roles when polled in 2018.
Now, these numbers don’t take into account the specific job roles and educational requirements, but if your starting salaries aren’t even close to this amount, Vitale suggests looking at your applicant tracking data to determine whether you’re seeing a lot of rejected offers.
She also reminds us that this is another area in which gender diversity can be affected, particularly if you include salary requirements on your applications, as male applicants are more comfortable asking for more money, while female candidates are afraid of pricing themselves out of consideration.
The best practice here? Share what you expect to pay. It’s proactive and saves time. In tomorrow’s article, I’ll focus on the consumer mindset to the recruiting process and how you can ensure your candidates get a good experience.
|Holly K. Jones, JD is a Senior Legal Editor for BLR’s human resources and employment law publications. She understands the existing and emerging needs and challenges of human resources professionals thanks to several years of experience managing, writing, and editing key legal and compliance publications for BLR. Prior to joining BLR, Ms. Jones worked for the Tennessee Legislature’s Office of Legal Services.
She graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in English Rhetoric and Writing, Political Science, and Psychology from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she also received a 2001 Citation for Extraordinary Academic Achievement. She received her law degree from Vanderbilt University Law School and is licensed to practice law in Tennessee.
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