Hiring Generation Y – Time to Change Your Current Strategy?

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This topic has been run through the mill countless times, however, as more and more Generation Y workers take their place in Corporate America, it is helpful to remind ourselves why recruitment strategies must be altered and/or expanded when hiring Gen Y candidates.

It used to be that a Gen Y interviewee would be quick to distance themselves from the seemingly negative stereotypes and judgments bestowed upon them. Now, an increasing number of youthful candidates embrace these stereotypes and make no excuses for them, as they shouldn’t. A different mindset is held when you know you have a constant fallback in mom and dad if your job doesn’t pan out. You get to be selective in your search. Plus, in a changing world that is focusing less on materialistic viewpoints, the need and want for money as the number one job priority has somewhat dwindled. The old adage “Cash is King” has been replaced with “Mind Over Money.” Gen Y wants to have a greater purpose and a sense of happiness in their positions, rather than just a monetary incentive.

A stable company and a lucrative compensation package may not be enough to lure the top candidates of the next generation. In fact, one job seeker, who had just graduated from college, told an interviewer, “I’m sure you’ve already heard it, but my generation is not focused on money like previous generations. In my job, I want to make an impact in some way and know that I’m part of something bigger. I’m not going to do it for free obviously, but money isn’t my top priority.” That says a lot about Gen Y priorities and their own self-recognition. So what should you keep in mind? Smart Recruiters provides a few tips on how to (and not to) hire Generation Y candidates:

Generation Y grew up in an era of technology. They have always known smart phones, satellite television, video games, mobile computers and the internet. Technological advancements in real-time media and communication drive their expectation for immediacy

Now, how does this impact the recruitment of Gen Y talent? For one, here are 3 traditional recruiting practices that Gen Y does not respond well to:

  1. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years from now?

Gee, do you have any idea how that sounds to a generation that isn’t even sure about tomorrow? With an abundance of choices available to them in an ever-changing, highly volatile and fragile world, the future is as predictable as a lightning stroke. Asking this question to a generation that pretty much thinks ahead in iPhone releases rather than annual cycles is no longer helpful. The truth is, they will make up an answer to satisfy the recruiter just to pass the interview but trying to assess their ambition or goal-orientation this way, is as outdated as expecting linear resumes.

  1. Automatic email replies (or better yet – no replies at all) during the application process.

For someone being used to VIP treatment throughout their life (think Trophy Kids, helicopter parents and all that stuff) suddenly being ignored or treated like a number is pretty much like being downgraded from First Class to the luggage compartment – instead of being addressed by name, sipping champagne and choosing your meal from a fancy menu, we stick a label on you, shove you in the cargo bay with the masses and simply ignore you if you don’t stand out. For Gen Y candidates an impersonal and indifferent application process is an indication of how they would be treated as employees. Considering the lack of respect and denial of their individual purpose, they can become actively disengaged before having even walked through your door.

  1. Promoting an unrealistic employer brand.

Gen Yers are not looking for a job, they are looking for a mission. Driven by a high sense of purpose, their work – as an inseparable part of life – needs to suit Gen Y’s lifestyle, allow them to feel part of a tribe and align with their personal values. Branding IS key. However, do not try to sell your employer brand for something it is not. Just because you understand what Gen Y is drawn to, do not pretend to be a Gen Y magnet if reality proves otherwise. Social media is too transparent and too omnipresent for people not to find out that you’re trying to fake it and the damage done to your brand is disproportionally higher than the intended benefit!

 So what IS working with Gen Y talent? Check out these 3 unconventional recruiting practices that cater to Generation Y:

  1. Online recruiting events

In line with their natural communication preferences, technology-based virtual events allow Gen Y candidates to actively engage with potential employers, chat with future colleagues, explore workplace environments and get a feel for whether an organization is a potential fit for them.

  1. Gamified attraction or humorous video campaigns ( i.e. My Marriott Hotel Game)

With human brains hardwired to enjoy games and video being THE trend media for young audiences, it is not surprising that gamification and video campaigns work extremely well to attract Gen Y talent. A study commissioned by Comedy Central reveals that, unlike previous generations, humor, not music, is Gen Y’s number one form of self-expression. Consider the use of fun, video clips and games when you advertise jobs and see your campaigns go viral!

  1. Authentic, real-life insights into what it means to work for company XYZ

Nothing resonates with Gen Y as much as authenticity. Encourage your existing Gen Y employees to blog, tweet and talk about their experience on social media! Get them to share real images, stories, and personal experiences with their Gen Y peers. Speaking in social currency terms, this “Word of Mouth” promotion is worth so much more than glossy advertising!

Traci Kingery, PHR is an HR Professional and freelance writer based in the Midwest, specializing in immigration and talent management. When she’s not improving unemployment, she keeps busy with her husband and four children.

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