For decades (and maybe even longer), students have been bombarded with career advice. Most guidelines insist that they dress for the job they want rather than the job they have or that they revise their résumé to stand out on paper. Recently I have heard more particular counsel about hiding tattoos and piercings and even practicing the proper, most professional handshakes in order to impress employers. The pressure has rested heavily on the job applicant to land a job.
As Millennials begin to emerge as the next dominant generation in the workforce, their rebellious attitude comes into play in the recruitment paradigm. In case you haven’t noticed, Millennials commonly question societal standards. In this case, Millennials have declared that just because their ancestors chose to settle for steady employment over job satisfaction does not require them to follow suit. According to many Millennials, the responsibility to sell oneself should be equally shared between job applicant and employer.
To many of you, that may seem pretentious or ludicrous. But on the other hand, as employers you face a generation of employees that is stubbornly fighting for the upper hand in recruiting.
If you need an explanation, remember for a moment one of the most distinctive Millennial characteristics: a sense of entitlement. Parents, teachers, coaches and the media encouraged Millennials since infancy to “reach for the stars” and “never back down.” To apply that stubborn persistence to career goals proves logical. Therefore, my advice to employers is to admit that the rules of recruiting—among many things—are changing and to adapt your practices accordingly.
Please do not misunderstand me and think that I am suggesting you bend over backwards and cater to the younger generation. I do suggest, however, that you consider the benefits in this new work trend. More determined, intentional application practices might yield more committed and satisfied employees. You may even begin to see fewer apathetic job applicants.
Millennials want unique, satisfying and fun careers. They strive to be respected, appreciated and compensated for their accomplishments at work. Take a moment to think about what you can do at your office to better appreciate your employees. Offer perks for completing tasks before the deadlines. Hold friendly office competitions. Create social opportunities for employees to spend more casual time together. Thank your employees daily for the hard work that they do.
Then think about how you stand out as an employer. Do you foster a relaxed, supportive work environment? Do you offer bonuses or holiday parties? Emphasize those unique, appealing qualities in your internship and job descriptions. Millennials want to know that they will experience a satisfying and engaging work environment in your organization. They want to be able to picture themselves working for you before they even apply.
Reject the idea that applicants should “sell themselves” to your organization, and consider instead how you portray your organization to your potential talent pool, to your current employees and to your community.
For assistance in creating more appealing internship descriptions, or for advice in selling your organization to Millennial applicants, contact the Graduate Retention Program.