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Engage the Next Generation of Talent: Recruiting Millennials and Gen Z

With millennials on track to make up 75% of the US workforce by 2025 and Gen Z quickly on the rise to fill open jobs, knowing how to recruit these generations can benefit your organization.

Millennials and Gen Z share many qualities when it comes to the job hunt: they value digital-first hiring, they prioritize flexibility and healthy work-life balances, and they do their research. If your digital footprint isn’t consistent with your values, these generations will notice. Focus on the following to be more appealing to potential hires.



    • List salary ranges. Millennials are a highly educated generation, but with tuition soaring 169% since 1980 (and wages only rising 19% during the same time period), they’re also carrying high levels of debt—to the tune of $1.75 trillion. Housing has inflated 258.89% since 1980. Food, fuel, and utility costs continue to rise year after year. It’s no surprise that salaries and medical benefits top millennial expectations for compensation. These generations don’t want to waste their time, or yours, applying for jobs that can’t subsidize their needs. If you can’t list the salary range in the job listing, expect it to surface in the first interview.
    • These generations work hard—and they value family time. They are attracted by organizations that see hires as people first and resources second. And these generations also do their research. So, you can talk the talk, but if you’re not walking the walk, they’ll notice. These interviewees are more likely to reach out to current people on the job and delve deep into online research to find out if your company culture matches what you say. Your interviews may wax on about wonderful company values and internal initiatives that support employees, but expect skepticism if they can’t find evidence of these values in your hiring materials and on your website.

Where will you attract these candidates? According to a Yello Recruiting Study, employee referrals are the most valued resource for job seekers. Word-of-mouth recommendations are a huge asset to your company. Make sure that your employees know how to speak about your company and how to share opportunities. But take note, employee referrals may unintentionally work against your diversity, equity and inclusion goals. Be certain to leverage multiple methods of recruitment.

Due to their age, Gen Z is currently finding jobs through hiring events, college career centers, and relationships they developed in high school and college classes. Many strong school/employer relationships are developed through high school courses that provide students with real-world experience. 

Both Millennials and Gen Z prefer organizations that promise continued growth and learning. If they’re not receiving what they need, these generations are more likely to leave their position. In fact, almost 50% of millennials say they don’t see a long-term future with their employers. Providing growth and engagement opportunities to these employees promotes retention and serves as a strong hiring incentive. Consider developing a succession plan that fosters your employees for more senior positions or, barring a title upgrade, a path to improving skills and abilities. Think beyond “dead end” jobs—how can these hires grow and learn in your organization?


The good news: you don’t need a creative writing degree to develop highly effective job descriptions. Witty titles and puns aren’t needed—Millenials and Gen Z are looking for authenticity, clarity, and honesty. But be careful of going too far in the other direction. Are your job descriptions a laundry list of basic duties? Try spicing it up with some real information about the job.

“Many companies are required to have very detailed job descriptions to protect them from future legal actions once employed; however, I would suggest not utilizing the same descriptions to entice job seekers. A tedious listing of job duties will not keep their attention,” shares Nancy Dall, founder of Executive Talent Partners. “Your profile/posting should clearly articulate the following:

    • Company mission
    • Company values and what differentiates your organization
    • Clarity on the specific job, the expectations, and what the candidate will learn in this role
    • Call to action including easy ways to apply
    • And lastly, yes, include compensation but be very clear that it is a range and compensation will be decided based on prior experience and internal equity.”

Rachel Thomas, Brand Communications Manager at Kansas Association of School Boards, asks: “What will the position look like in the first 30, 60 or 90 days in the role? And how will they be supported? These are all important questions to consider when crafting your job descriptions. Both generations need clear, concise messaging from a strong brand to carry throughout application materials and the hiring process.”


“Posting a job on your website may not be enough” said Eric Hagemann, CEL Integrated Communications Coordinator. “Younger generations have a wealth of open positions to choose from.” Hagemann shares his advice for being sure your organization rises to the job amongst the many open positions:

  • Mobile-responsiveness (especially in the navigation) is key. A 2019 Pew Research study found that 93% of millennials own smartphones, meaning they’re most likely checking out companies’ websites from these types of devices vs. a desktop or laptop. 
  • Use relatable language and highlight how the company makes a difference — for job descriptions, note how the employee will make a difference. 
  • Organize web content with the user in mind, and use analytics to help you understand web traffic. 
  • Clear call to actions that cut through the clutter — millennials and Gen Z prefer authenticity and clarity, and know how to identify “corporate speak.” 
  • Multimedia incorporated throughout the site can give users a better sense of the company atmosphere. 
  • It’s a common myth that older generations aren’t online — although Gen X, millennials and Gen Z lead the statistics, baby boomers and the silent generation are online in significant numbers.

It may be time to audit your website, your social media, and your recruiting platforms. Are they serving you well, or are you overdue for a refresh?  Today’s workforce now expects immediate access to information, convenient methods of communication, and a relaxed, friendlier vibe.


Communicating across generations means setting clear expectations for company culture—and potentially relaxing or adapting some traditions that no longer serve your workforce. Millennials and Gen Z are willing to meet requirements when they make sense but expect these generations to demand a good “why” for your company policies. 

Take office dress codes, for example. The pandemic accelerated the move away from office formality and the power suit may be officially dead. As an employer, you can support a multigenerational office by doing two things: 1) making clear office expectations and 2) reviewing the rules to see if you’re holding on to conventions that no longer serve the original purpose. Younger generations are slowly changing office traditions, and if you don’t have justification for your policies, expect them to be challenged.


The World Is Short Staffed, Be Kind To Those Who Showed Up


Recruitment and retention go hand-in-hand. New employees are looking to you for mentorship; existing employees are hoping for growth opportunities, support and collaboration. If your hiring practices are out of this world, but your retention strategies fail, you may be stuck in an endless loop of turnover.

Use your multigenerational office to your advantage by leaning on the strengths each unique perspective brings, and developing processes for experienced employees to lift up others within your organization. Your experienced employees can provide mentorship to your new hires, and in turn, new hires support the stability and growth of your organization. Your greatest strength can be the diversity within your organization. 

Published on: May 4, 2022