Different generations require different recruiting strategies

Ed Krey

Members of new generations — including Millennials aged 24 to 27 and Generation Z under 24 — value diversity, flexibility, different environments and both individual tasks and team projects in the workplace. While we know what they’re looking for, the question remains: How do we attract new generations to join our firms? How do we entice them to look at our stories and what sets us apart?

To meet recruitment goals, business professionals must change their mindsets and approaches.  Long gone are the days of posting ads in the local newspaper, attending job fairs or relying on word of mouth. These activities yield few results in a technically motivated work force. Instead, companies must turn to new and innovative ways to connect with the new generations.

Before we start with the “what,” it’s essential to explore the “who we are.” Candidates peruse reviews and ratings for employers long before they consider applying for a position. Companies must take a realistic look at the culture and brand current and former employees convey through social media. Candidates aren’t looking for just financial stability anymore. They want to join in a worthy cause and belong to a strong, supportive work family. Business professionals must dig into what their organizations’ ambassadors feel about the cohesiveness, or lack thereof, that exists throughout the structure. If the culture repels new ideas and diverse individuals, no amount of recruitment will entice top talent.

Once we determine who we are, we need to find those who fit the desired culture and will advance internal business goals. Start with pipelines. Don’t be afraid to tap local educational institutions directly through instructors. These educators have a unique, focused environment to observe students in the classroom and, in many cases, clinical settings. They could be the best evaluator for new candidates and quite possibly your best referral partners. Embrace new graduates with a special gift or quick presentation, explaining the unique opportunities your organization offers, such as training from seasoned staff. By reaching out to these fresh minds, organizations learn current best practices while transferring existing wisdom and history, creating a win-win situation.

Looking out over the sea of individuals in the world today, what’s the one thing most of them have in common? 
It’s literally in front of their faces — the smartphones and other devices they use. What better way to capture the attention of passive candidates? We already know they’re tech-savvy since they know how to navigate their smartphones. In today’s shrinking labor market, organizations using social media enjoy a competitive advantage in attracting top talent. After all, social media already is right in front of them.  Such platforms as LinkedIn, Alignable, Facebook and Instagram open a new set of communication alternatives for companies to reach professionals.

While employee referrals still comprise one of the best referral programs for an organization, there are some pitfalls business professionals should consider. Referrals from one type or group of individuals could stifle diversity in candidate pools and might even lead to a disproportionate ratio of hiring in an organization. Moreover, like-minded individuals tend to limit innovation and create restrictive outreach practices.

Finally, let’s explore on-the-job opportunities companies occasionally miss out on due to lack of awareness, such as internships, local workforce center programs and using staffing agencies as working interviews. What better way to “try it before you buy it” than hosting an intern or contingency worker in your workplace to evaluate culture and skill fit?

In the end, companies won’t succeed without a robust and innovative recruiting process in place for the future workforce environment and a strong, supportive place to work. Remember: Once we have new employees in the door, we must keep them. But that’s another story for another day.