Millennial Myths vs. Reality: How to Engage and Hire Next Gen Talent

The business case for harnessing Gen Y's energy, talent and yes, values

By 2014, Millennials (ages 18-35) will make up 36% of the workforce (75% by 2025). To those who buy into the common perceptions of millennials -- they're entitled, self-absorbed, lacking commitment/loyalty -- this must be highly unsettling. Particularly from the perspective of senior management looking to build an invested, focused, competitive workforce.

But take a quick mental survey of your company -- the 35 year old  who was the top regional salesperson the last quarter...the 30 year old marketing associate who helped come up with last quarter's successful campaign...the 26 year old programmer who spent the weekend developing a more customer-friendly web interface...Anecdotal, sure, but right in front of you millennials are assuming leadership positions, they are being groomed to assume leadership positions, and they are increasingly becoming the backbone of your organization. 

All of which begs the question: how accurate are these common (mis)conceptions? Or, put another way: how accurate are the conclusions we've drawn from broadly shared outward characteristics? Yes, there are common behaviors (increased use of digital technologies, reliance on social media) and broadly shared wants and expectations (a social and enjoyable work environment, flexible hours, creative input).  But are millennials entitled to the point they are comparatively unwilling to work beneath their skill and educational level...or is it merely a matter of them wanting more recognition for working beneath their skill and education level? If they are self-centered and lacking commitment, why are 91% of millennials registered to vote, why do 68% participate in community service and why do 53% consider themselves politically active?

Business leaders need to think more about how to exploit the millennial generation's natural talent for social connectedness, technology, ambition, and creativity. This paper addresses how you can successfully engage millennials, identify the top performers, improve retention and job satisfaction, and improve your ability to manage them.

How to Engage Millennials

According to a study from UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School and the YEC, Millennials are highly ambitious, with a majority placing an importance on jobs with chances for career progression, personal growth, as well as freedom and flexibility. Millennials prioritize value and meaning in their work over money -- if their jobs are aligned with their passion, they will go the extra mile.

A lot has been said and written lately about this being the most entrepreneurial generation ever. Instead of patiently waiting for their turn or resigning to things being done to them, Gen Y takes action and matters in their own hands. They tend to feel supported by parental back-up and the safety of their social tribe, encouraging them to voice their opinion and  drive outcomes. Some view this as an attitude of "entitlement," but when you dig further; you find that to Millennials, an entrepreneur is more a mindset associated with being a self-starter, risk-taker, visionary.  "Millennials see themselves as building entrepreneurial careers whether they work for someone else or freelance - they don't necessarily have to start their own businesses. In fact, more than half (58 percent) already classify themselves as entrepreneurs." (Millennials Are Rewriting the Rules of Work and Entrepreneurship, Employment Trends, Rieva Lesonsky)

Once you see beyond the stereotypes, and realize the energy and passion Millennials can bring to drive your business forward, the next step is to consider a system that enables you to identify top Millennials, and, as importantly engage them -- or, to put it in terms a millennial would respond to, "excite them."

Millenials: Self-Selected Descriptors

From: The Millennial Generation: Pro-Social and Empowered to Change the World, by AMP Agency; Cone Inc.

A Model for Engagement and Talent Acquisition.

The following provides a cross section of quotes taken from The Savvy Intern blog where millennial job seekers were asked to weigh in on their pet peeves concerning the job search process. It pairs their comments with key components of a "best practices" engagement and talent acquisition model.

Millenials Infographic•  "Inefficient recruitment systems I am REQUIRED to fill out to apply. If I have to fill them out, you have to keep them up to date."

In order to engage Millennials, the engagement must be fluid, dynamic and truly interactive. Most of today's "solutions" are formulaic, requiring applicants to fill in forms and submit resumes. HRMC Acclaim engages each Millennial candidate in a meaningful, relevant, one-on-one interaction -- all in real-time, conducted from a smart phone, tablet or desktop...affording Millennials the "device freedom" they crave.

All applicants initially respond to a set of standardized core questions to screen for basic requirements. The flow of questioning can then change according to the way the applicant answers the questions; highly sophisticated branching provides an engaging and efficient experience for every candidate. As a result, each applicant also receives a unique interview experience customized on the fly to best suit his/her individual skill set, interests, behaviors, and background. This promotes a natural user experience -- one that is far more flexible and interactive than the standard static process. 

• "My biggest frustration with recruiters is when they don't do their homework on recruits. It starts with a non-personalized message and ends up in either the job being a bad fit or the recruit not being qualified for the position. Either way, it leads to false hope and wasted time for both parties simply because the recruiter was too lazy to spend a little more time on initial research."

Acclaim gives hiring managers the ability to load a realistic job preview video that   articulates the scope, challenges and opportunities of the position. This gives candidates a far more accurate sense of the responsibilities and skills required to determine up front whether it's a good fit and worth pursuing.

•  "My pet peeve is when jobs do not tell you when the job closes or post the salary. The unknown can be torture when the process is long."

Transparency and timely communication is essential not just to win the trust of Gen Y candidates, but for all candidates.  Job seekers have long been disenchanted with the job board process, as receiving no response to online submissions is a highly unsatisfying experience. In addition to providing short-term closure by notifying candidates that they have completed the process, it's critical to keep them engaged for the long term. Acclaim enables you to deliver content-specific correspondence scheduled for distribution via e-mail to specific candidate pools based on a range of time and/or event-based triggers-whether it's a message from the hiring manager, general company news, or an invitation to schedule an in-person interview. This high-touch approach is especially critical in cases where you are identifying top talent but do not have any current openings.

•  "My pet peeve, and, I think, even recruiters would agree, is that the length of the recruitment process can be taxing. Sometimes great candidates are lost to other employers as a result of this process."

 The hiring process normally spans 6 to 8 weeks, is typically mired in time-consuming "paperwork" and is characterized by stops and starts that not only drain resources, but can also delay getting people on the job quickly. The "paperwork" and telephone tag required to interview, hire, and process candidates covers everything from the initial application to skills assessments to scheduling. As the above states, candidates opt out due to the inconvenience and length of the process. Acclaim allows candidates to jump right into the system-without even needing a resume-and, entirely at their convenience, to demonstrate their suitability for the position. Acclaim couches a realistic job preview, the prescreen, interview, assessment, and scheduling activities within a single engagement -- usually about 15 minutes all told --  while giving the applicant the option of disengaging and later reengaging at the point (s)he left off.

• "I want to make sure a future employer takes the time to answer all of my questions, and most importantly, gives me the feeling that I am a strong asset to the company and my work is going to be appreciated!"

As stated, fluid communications at each key stage of the process is crucial, from setting realistic expectations at the outset, to communicating the level of interest post-interview, to keeping the candidate "warm" when there are no immediate openings. But another key aspect in communicating that the candidate will be appreciated -- clearly a key concern among Millennials -- is providing a sense of the company culture. Taking this a step further, it's important to ask questions that allow the candidate to determine whether he/she will comfortably fit the company culture -- which conveys a sense of the value an organization puts on an employee's contribution, the opportunities an employee has to express him or herself, and the ways in which the candidate is recognized, rewarded and advanced.

Toward this end, a key component in Acclaim is a behavioral assessment tool that address attitudes, competencies, and skills, revealing both whether a candidate can do the job and how well that person will perform within a particular environment or organizational culture. These assessments go a long way in allaying concerns whether the organization will value an employee's work and contribution. Additionally, Acclaim's interactive voice response technology (IVR) affords all candidates the ability to "speak their mind" and express their "opinions" in an open-ended way -- an ability that is sure to strike a chord with top Gen Y candidates. If a candidate's cumulative online score places them on your short list, their phone rings and jumps them into a more in-depth automated phone interview -- where all responses are recorded for easy review by the hiring manager. 

Flexible, Yet Rigorous Candidate Selection Correlates to Employee Satisfaction 

When announced their fourth annual Employee's Choice Awards for Best Places to Work -- a critical consideration for top candidates, and Millennials in particular -- it was striking how many of the companies listed are known for the rigor in their employee selection process (i.e., Google, Apple,  As the Glassdoor survey indicates, there's a clear connection between a rigorous selection process and employee satisfaction. The trick is in balancing rigor with a positive candidate experience.  Also, consider that the recruiting system or process is the first point of contact a prospective employee has with an organization.  Top candidates evaluate prospective employers as much as employers evaluate them. It follows that top talent is more likely to be attracted to those companies that incorporate forward-thinking and innovative technology in their hiring process, one that balances a positive candidate experience with rigorous assessment.

Hiring organizations with the most refined selection tools give organizations more than the ability to hire the best of the best -- it allows them to build a culture of achievement and success.

One of the defining characteristics of Gen Y is their affinity for social communications, which is most obviously reflected in their sharing of personal experiences via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. This natural tendency can also extend to your company and its brand. Most companies these days want to be viewed as a "great place to work." This can mean any number of things: a vibrant, fun culture, generous benefits, encouraging innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit, freely giving recognition to initiative and achievement, etc.  Millennials can be your greatest brand evangelists and networkers -- indeed, Gen Y has been referred to as natural human connectors. 

Additionally, they can provide your organization with critical marketing insights. "Companies spend a lot of money researching and marketing to your age group," says Shara Senderoff, co-founder and CEO of online internship resource Intern Sushi. 

For Millennials in particular, how you hire is, to a large extent, who you are. A flexible, yet rigorous evaluation that promotes a positive user experience can go a long way in creating/sustaining your desired company brand. 


The consensus on Millennials is that they're entitled and from a company's standpoint, unprepared. We trust that this paper punctured some of the myths and stereotypes of Millennials, and showed how they can be a huge asset driving your company forward.  Gen Y is much more productive than they are given credit for -- they know how to use technology efficiently, they are invested in work when it aligns with their passions, committed when their contributions and ideas are encouraged and recognized, they are inherently effective "networkers" communicating your brand -- making them natural recruiters for top talent. There are many good reasons to hire Gen Y. 
Acclaim is naturally suited for engaging and assessing the preparedness and fit of candidates of all ages, but as this paper demonstrates, it is ideally suited for Millennials.  Leveraging its flexibility and power, organizations can more effectively and reliably identify top talent...and tap the limitless reserves of Gen Y energy, technical skill, collaborative tendencies and "entrepreneurial" zeal to drive your business forward.




About HRMC, Inc.

Human Resource Management Center, Inc. (HRMC) is a pioneering candidate acquisition solutions provider. Our flagship solution, HRMC AcclaimSM, engages candidates in automated, single-session interviews that pre-qualify and rank-order applicants using assessment tools based on validated job analyses. The system then measures the success of the selection to improve retention and further refine the selection process. Whether accessed over the Web or the phone-or a combination-users are led through an interactive experience that approximates true human interaction, resulting in "stickier," more effective interviews and employee surveys, as well as more satisfying candidate experiences. Acclaim can be deployed as a complete, standalone talent acquisition solution or extend the functionality of an installed applicant tracking system (ATS). HRMC is headquartered in Tampa, Florida, and is privately held. For more information, visit the company's Web site at or