7 Tips for Recruiting Millennials in Today’s Job Market

by Mike Tannian on March 22, 2022

Used to recruiting older generations? Recruiting Millennials takes new strategies and a whole new mindset.

Article Highlights

The government's biggest competitor in the hiring process is the private sector. Corporations offer higher-paying jobs and better benefits, and now they've developed someof the best practices and tips for recruiting Millennials.

When it comes to government work, it can be challenging to attract Millennial candidates to the public sector. Relying on the old methods of recruiting won’t attract younger candidates. It's important to find new recruitment strategies for Millennials because the old methods aren't as effective anymore.

Remember, Millennials (also called Generation Y) were born between 1981 and 1996. That means the oldest Millennials are 41 and the youngest will turn 26 this year. Older Millennials have careers, houses, and children. Younger Millennials are finding their career paths, may live in an apartment or a condo, and are getting married and starting a family.

With this in mind, let’s discuss different best practices for recruiting Millennials, the expectations they have for their work, and the goals they hope to accomplish.

Benefits of Millennial Employees

Millennials bring new ideas, motivations, and ways of thinking to the table that previous generations have not.

For one thing, Millennials are more aware of social issues. If you're launching a new agency program or initiative, they'll let you know if it's insensitive or offensive to any particular sector of the community. That way, you catch the error before the program becomes public. It will save you a lot of headaches and avoid bad publicity.

Another benefit: Millenials are adaptable and digitally savvy. Not only can they come up with new, creative solutions to problems, but they can help you promote your work online and gain a bigger audience.

Millennials are also flexible and can easily adapt to new changes, such as changing policies, new programs, and new leadership mandates.

The Current Job Market

As of 2020, there were 72.1 million Millennials in the United States, compared to 70.68 million Baby Boomers (born between 1946 - 1964). As Boomers continue to retire, more job openings will need to be filled – and the 64.95 million Gen Xers (1965 - 1980) won’t be able to fill all the roles.

According to the Pew Research Center, 56 million Millennials are working or looking for work. As of 2021, 21% have switched jobs in the last 12 months, and 62% are open to a different opportunity. And by 2025, they're expected to make up three-quarters of the workforce.

7 Tips for Recruiting Millennials

The process of recruiting Millennials to the public sector is much different from the past, especially if you want to recruit younger Millennials. While the age range for Millennials spans 15 years, you can often think of that generation as two different age groups. Younger Millennials may resonate more with Generation Z (born between 1997–2012), while older Millennials may identify more with Generation X. 

Here are seven tips for recruiting Millennials that will work for both the public and private job market.

1. Embrace Technology

One of the best recruitment strategies for Millennials is to "fish where the fish are." Go to the places where they are rather than expecting them to come to you. This is true whether you work for a government agency or you're recruiting for a corporation or small business.

Ninety-three percent of Millennials own a smartphone, 86% of them use social media and 53% of them own tablet devices. Needless to say, they're extremely tech-savvy and will search for information online, download digital media, and connect with friends and family over social media. They'll even apply for jobs on their mobile phones, which means you need an online application process.

If you want to recruit Millennials, try social recruiting. That means using the same channels they're using, such as posting jobs on a variety of social networks like LinkedIn and Indeed. It also means having a digital interviewing and hiring process.

It's important to embrace more technology at work. Organizations that have mobile phone bans or that still rely on older technology won't be of much interest to the tech-savvy Millennials. If they find your organization still relies on fax machines and pagers, they'll look elsewhere for a more tech-forward workplace.

The last two years have also shown the importance of remote work as more and more people had the opportunity to work from home. The notion that work can only get done when people are in the office has been put to rest. 

Now, people are even quitting their jobs or taking pay cuts rather than being forced to go back to the office on a regular basis. If you began offering remote work options to employees, you can entice workers who are looking for remote opportunities.

Applicant tracking systems like Insight, or candidate relationship management tools like Attract (coming to NEOGOV in Q3 of 2022), can help you “fish where the fish are,” attract Millennials to your organization, and save time in the recruiting process.

2. Create an Employee Referral Program

If you already have Millennials in your organization, create a program that rewards employees for recruiting job candidates. Ask them to share job openings on their own social networks. (This may mean allowing them to access their social media during work hours.)

Also, consider creating an advisory board. North Carolina's Young Employees Initiative is an advisory committee of 18- to 29-year-old employees who make recommendations about issues that are important to their age group.

They'll be able to offer some of the most insightful suggestions about promoting job postings and building your organization's brand.

3. Build an Attractive Brand

It may seem unusual for a government agency to promote its brand the same way a corporation might, but you're in competition with the private sector for the most attractive candidates. Many companies are already pursuing "Best Place to Work" awards and are sharing their efforts for volunteerism and community involvement (two issues that are important to younger workers).

Part of your branding also means developing your key internal messaging and values. That's more than just a mission statement – it means living the values that the organization upholds. Many Millennials want to work for a company that makes a positive impact on the community. Since some government agencies do that as part of their mandate, it can help draw interest from Millennials.

Encourage your executives to lead the way. It helps your organization when your leaders publicly model the organization's values. That modeling can also earn important media coverage and sends the message that your entire agency cares about social issues and the community.

Then, you can showcase those efforts, as well as your overall work culture, on social media. Since that's where a lot of Millennials spend their time, social sharing will help your brand by emphasizing your company culture to those audiences.

For example, feature "day in the life" stories through pictures and videos on your channels. Ask your staff to write blog articles about projects or share the results of your studies and research. Sharing what you do on social media can build interest in your organization to make it an attractive option to Millennial talent.

4. Instill Purpose

Younger workers don't just want a paycheck. They want to know that they're doing important work that has a positive impact on their communities and makes a difference in society.

According to a Deloitte study, almost 80% of young Millennials say they “would be more motivated and committed at work if they felt their employer made a positive impact on society.” In addition to this, Millenials are looking for more volunteer opportunities and they also want to build diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in their workplace culture.

All of this provides a sense of purpose at work and gives Millenials a chance to contribute to something bigger than themselves. They want to feel that their work is important. Because this is inherent in most government agencies, you’re already one step ahead – you just have to show them.

As you share job postings and conduct interviews, focus on the positive impact of public service work and show them how they can be a big part of the organization's mission.

5. Value Work-Life Balance

Of course, everyone wants a competitive paycheck and benefits. And while the public sector doesn't usually pay as much as the private sector, there are a few benefits that you can offer, like better health benefits and retirement/401(k) options. 

As part of your recruitment strategy, be sure to talk about the non-monetary benefits of working at your organization on social media and during the interview process.

Public sector jobs hours are usually 8:00 am – 5:00 pm allowing people to work 40 hours a week and maintain healthy personal lives. Corporate jobs often expect employees to work more than 40 hours per week, which means a good work-life balance can be difficult. 

Finally, while it may be difficult, consider the psychological benefits of offering unlimited time off. U.S. workers already don't take full advantage of their allotted vacation days, so it’s unlikely that unlimited time off would cause workforce delays due to a bombardment of vacation leave requests. Many smaller businesses, especially startups, offer unlimited time off knowing that their employees will work harder to ensure their work is done before they go.

6. Set Clear Growth Paths

Millennials have their own career goals that don't necessarily look like the ones Generation X and the Baby Boomers took. They're more concerned with job satisfaction, work-life balance, and general happiness than they are with a paycheck.

Millennials also want professional and personal growth opportunities to better develop their skills and knowledge. You can offer these through online certifications, building in the budget for seminars and conferences, and by providing chances to network with counterparts at other agencies.

Based on the recruiting tips we've discussed, you now have a good idea of what Millennials want when working for your organization. If you can show them this during the interview process and beyond, you'll have an effective strategy for recruiting more Millennials.

7. Recruit Gen Z Early

We've been talking about Millennials, but we can’t forget that the oldest members of Gen Z are just one year behind the youngest Millennials. This means Gen Z is now entering the workforce, and they're looking for entry-level jobs that could help launch them on their career path.

You can get ahead of the game by creating a talent pipeline into your organization. Set up an internship program that recruits college students and new graduates. You’ll not only help them gain valuable work experience, but you'll introduce the next workforce generation to the public sector and show them that it's a viable career option.

Another way to start recruiting Gen Z early is by participating in career fairs at the local high schools and colleges to build interest in a career in government. You can even hold a reverse career fair for counselors, deans, and students to visit your organization and learn more about working in the public sector.

It’s important to put your organization in front of young students rather than hoping they will find you. Speak with professors who teach the classes that best align with the skills your organization hires for and ask if you can speak to the students in those classes. Or build a fellowship program with local colleges and universities to pair recent graduates with specific teams and departments in your agency.

When hiring Millennials, it's going to take a lot more work than it has for other generations. Some of these 7 tips for recruiting Millennials may require a major effort on your agency's part, while others – like promoting your agency's brand and instilling a sense of purpose – can be done easily and quickly, without a lot of effort.

There are many benefits and positive aspects of public sector work, so make sure you share them on social media and at every stage of your recruiting process. You can get Millennials excited about the idea of government work by showing all that it has to offer.

You can learn more about Millennial recruiting tips and the candidates you should be recruiting in 2022 on our website.

How to Solve Government Recruiting Needs

Mike Tannian

Mike Tannian is the Director of Content Marketing at NEOGOV. With a talented team of writers by his side, he aims to produce content that delivers real value to public sector HR professionals at every stage in the buying journey.

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