by Scott Wintrip and Gabe Kahan
Before we jump into the article, I’m pleased to introduce Gabe Kahan, who shares the byline with me for this piece. Gabe is a freelance writer and a millennial who’s wise beyond his years. You can learn more about Gabe and his work at www.gabekahan.com.
As the next wave of jobseekers takes the market by storm, it can be disorientating to appeal to a generation with a different set of professional values. As a recruiter or hiring manager it’s your job to guide applicants through the hiring process as seamlessly as possible. Losing millennial hires along the way can be costly for a business looking to evolve with their market. Are there strategies to bridge the intergenerational gap? The answer is a resounding and simple yes.
While these jobseekers have a realistic and rational set of priorities like the rest of us, the oncoming millennial workforce carries a new professionalism that stems from the highly optimized, transparent, and sincere culture of the internet. This might sound like a dramatic shift in mentality, but in practice it proves to be a subtle adjustment.
The generational divide is more an illusion than anything else. It in many ways comes down to etiquette. As a recruiter or hiring manager there are several key tactics that require very little effort on your part, yet make a world of a difference to young talent looking for work.
1. Communicate swiftly.
Sometimes it can take a while to get approval from those higher up on the chain of command in order to move forward with the hiring process. We’ve heard of timelines stretching from a few weeks to many months. While you might think such a lengthy window of time would be the primary frustration for younger jobseekers, that’s not always the case.
Of course, millennials value their time; they find companies with good opportunities and an efficient hiring process much more attractive. But like all professionals, what they can’t stand is someone going dark on them halfway through the process, only to pop back into their lives weeks later without notice. It comes down to feeling heard and respected.
If a job applicant feels like they’re being kept up-to-date with next steps, they’re much less likely to walk away from the opportunity. It’s a matter of keeping them in the loop.
Some companies are now offering a “Yes or No in 48 hours of less” policy. While this may not be practical for all employers, it’s a fantastic way to stand out among competitors. Many potential hires are applying to several positions at once, so responding quickly can be the difference between losing them to a rival and adding new team members to your ranks.
2. Treat applicants like human beings.
Let jobseekers know you understand they have outside lives and are probably juggling a variety of decisions. If they feel like just another cog in your machine, they’re less likely to want you as their employer.
Some companies showcase a “No-Asshole” policy. They guarantee applicants will be interfacing with a real human being, not a robotic rep who treats them like a data point. This can be as simple as assigning an employee the responsibility of getting back to all applicants individually, rather than relying on an automated reply.
Another offshoot of poorly executed follow-up is the risk of reflecting unattractive business practices. Coming off as cold, absent-minded, and disorganized during recruitment will lead millennials to assume your business is also cold, absent-minded, and disorganized. Recruiters and hiring managers who treat candidates with consistent care and concern not only wind up with happier applicants, they also exemplify their business as an efficient and high functioning team.
3. Provide real compensation estimates in real time.
Any reluctance to give out an earnings estimate may be all a jobseeker needs to walk away. Too many millennials find themselves in a lengthy hiring process, only to discover at the end that it’s below their pay grade. Young hires appreciate an estimate given upfront. Not only does this weed out overqualified applicants, it also sets realistic expectations for everyone involved.
Some applicants ask at the outset, “what kind of salary are you offering?” Recruiters or hiring managers will too often shoot this kind of question down or even terminate the application, telling an applicant to not be so presumptuous. Don’t be that employer. Staying transparent about the range of compensation you’re able to offer shows potential hires you’re earnest and recognize their value as a prospective team member.
Some might react to being upfront with a salary range as unrealistic and even dangerous. Many recruiters need to check with higher up executives and administrators before they can offer any kind of estimate to applicants—the last thing you want to do is mislead anyone. To circumvent this risk, decide upon a salary range before looking for potential hires.
Meet with your team of executives, evaluate the responsibilities of the position, and create a range you all feel comfortable with. When it’s time to make an offer to your chosen candidate, you’ve already established the wiggle room you need based on his or her qualifications.
If your business already uses this strategy, consider asking applicants what kind of salary they’re looking for. This avoids wasting anyone’s time, and allows you to be explicit about the salary range of the position. (A word of warning—some states have laws against asking for a jobseeker’s current salary, so be careful with how you approach this issue.
4. Attract more applicants with an easy application.
It’s as simple as that. If jobseekers need to create a profile and fill out a bunch of forms for just one job posting, many may not even bother.
Put yourself in their shoes. They’re applying to positions right and left—chances are it’s not worth their time to make an account with your platform and click through 10 to 30 minutes of questionnaires and forms. (This becomes especially irritating if you ask potential hires to include their resume after answering a list of questions that serve the same purpose.)
While it may be more work on your end, asking applicants to email you directly may attract more potential hires. And if you’re looking for specific information from your applicants that a database system helps organize, try asking your applicants to include such information in their cover letter. This doubles as a great way to ensure applicants are serious about the job and have thoroughly read your job posting. If an applicant isn’t following your most basic instructions from the get-go, do you really want them on your team?
An alternative to providing jobseekers with an online application is to ask for a Pain Letter and resume. It saves both parties a whole lot of time and energy. Potential hires don’t have to put together a long-winded and sensationalistic cover letter espousing their expertise, and you don’t have to spend time combing through every detail of their past employer history. When it comes to trimming down that initial pool of applicants, it’s a great way to save on time.
Like the rest of the world, millennial jobseekers expect a certain level of efficiency during the hiring process. It’s not so much an issue of impatience, but rather an appreciation for the wealth of opportunity the internet provides. With technology’s ever-growing reach, this younger generation of workers have an unprecedented collection of networks to find the right fit.
While younger hires may not expect to land their next dream job, they understand there’s no reason to be mistreated or undervalued. If these tech-savvy millennials have learned one thing, it’s that they don’t have to fly to Silicon Valley anymore to find responsive, humane employers with committed staff.