4 Ways to Appeal to More Millennials

Asking for a quick show of hands, an overwhelming number of people at a recent workshop acknowledged that “frugal” and “no-nonsense labels” described the pre-WW II generations. Likewise coddled, entitled, and self-involved were typically accepted as descriptors of the Millennials.

And there lies a problem for many companies.

talent acquisition magnet New studies are showing that many Millennials and their successor Generation Z have more in common with their grandparents and great-grandparents than the media lets on. Yes, Millennials are hyper-connected and tech-dependent. They are by far the most diverse generation since the late 19th century. They are also more environmentally conscious than previous generations. But they are also more frugal with realistic expectations for the future than any generation since the Depression babies.  And those qualities and backgrounds are often overlooked when discussing Millennials.

But whatever and whomever Millennials are is almost irrelevant when it comes to business.  The fact is that by 2020 Millennials will make up almost 40 percent of the U.S. population and by 2025 75 percent of the workforce.  Treat them poorly and many businesses will succumb.

It’s time to take a step back.  Best practices and traditional experiences are rapidly becoming things of the past. For businesses hoping to attract and retain Millennials must understand the Millennial mindset.

How might your business appeal to the Millennials?

1. Get connected. Millennials are digital natives. They don’t remember a world without cellphones and the Internet. Millennials prefer the Internet to TV. Mobile devices outnumber desktop computers and laptops combined. Google reports about  300 million employment related searches each month. Seventy-five percent of jobseekers use their mobile phones; nearly half want to apply right away. If jobseekers can’t find and read your job posting on screens as small as smartphones, they won’t take the time to apply.

2. Be authentic.  There are few secrets anymore when it comes to branding. Social media has disrupted how the game is played. Companies can’t conceive a brand and hide behind a wall of hype anymore.  A company’s brand now falls into the hands of its consumers and employees. Branding is no longer a marketing message paid for by management but a consumer experience. Millennials also trust the word of their peers more than the dictum of management and that trend is crossing the generations. Authenticity and transparency are essential.

3. Don’t waste their time. This generation grew up with instant access to information and service at their fingertips. Millennials can search for any product or service, check out reviews, get approval from hundreds of friends, and purchase it within seconds.  They like engaging, fast, and efficient. That’s a far cry from the experience many encounter when it comes to applying for a job. Instead most companies offer them memories of a pre-digital stone age. More than half of companies don’t offer candidates the option of applying via mobile device. Mobile optimization is a sure and easy way to stay ahead of the competition.

4. It’s ALL about the experience. Take the hospitality industry for example where “fast casual” dining is thriving. It’s fresh, fast, and efficient. It offers personalized choices and an engaging experience. Likewise, career websites and recruiter follow-up need to be “fast casual”…at least to get Millennials to convert from a casual applicant to an interested candidate.  Unfortunately a user-friendly mobile-optimized job application may be the easy part. Changing the attitude of recruiters and hiring managers is often a higher hurdle.  Applicants need to feel like you care and are interested in them. That requires the common courtesy of responding to applicants quickly and keeping in touch often. “We don’t have the time to respond to every applicant” is an unacceptable excuse. It’s time to figure out a better way if you want to attract enough qualified Millennials.

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Ira S Wolfe