The Three Biggest Mistakes Recruiters Make With Millennials

While a lot of supposed differences between generation are overblown, in some ways Millennials do need to be recruited differently than older generations.

I get contacted by recruiters a lot. Brands need writers, badly. In my interactions with recruiters, I’ve identified some patterns that I think point to a disconnect between Gen X recruiters and Millennial workers. I also reached out to my networks to ask other Millennials what annoys them.

Here are the three biggest mistakes recruiters make when trying to hire Millennials:

  1. They’re vague and sketchy.

Millennials are used to having everything they want to know a search away. Transparency is key, for a few reasons. First, when people are vague alarm bells go off that they have something to hide.

Second, it’s disrespectful of a candidate’s time. Recently, a recruiter asked me to send her my resume and asked me for a call without telling me anything about the company she was working with or the role.

There are lots of reasons someone might not be interested in the job. Could be bad timing, wrong company, or a role that is not going to help me progress because it’s not the right kind of work or it’s too junior or senior.

Part of having everything you want to know a search away is knowing your value in the marketplace. I know that my skills are in high demand right now, and I have a great job. So I’m not incentivized to waste time on a call for a role I will most likely not be interested in.

“Be honest about what you are hiring for,” Cynthia Bell wrote. As a Millennial and the Sales Operations Manager for content marketing firm Industry Dive, I wanted to know what recruiters do wrong. “Don’t try to make it sound like it’s a journalist job when it’s really a content marketing job. Be upfront about the skills you are looking for. Also be upfront about the advancement opportunities. For some being ‘just’ a writer sounds like a dead end.”

It makes you look amateur to not realize the value of my time, or to assume I don’t realize it.

  1. They call.

What took this recent interaction with the recruiter from annoying to galling was that before I gave her my phone number, or permission to call, I got a voicemail from her.

First of all, rude.

Second, don’t call. Period. No Millennial wants to talk on the phone.

“The phone feels bizarrely invasive to me these days,” one 29-year-old writer told Business Insider. Millennials see picking up the phone without emailing first as “an interruption that can make it seem as though you’re prioritizing your needs over theirs.”

For Millennials, who were raised on AOL Instant Messenger and texting, talking on the phone is a necessary evil. For us, it’s what happens after you’ve established that a job might be mutually beneficial based on job title, company, location, salary range, whether benefits are included, and whether remote work is possible. It’s the last step before an in-person interview, not the first step when discussing a role.

  1. They pitch before they listen.

Millennials have lived our whole lives in public. We’re not afraid to tell you what we’re looking for in a job. So listen. It’ll save you both a lot of time.

Ask open-ended questions. Here are some examples:

  • What would convince you to switch jobs?
  • What do you love about your current company?
  • What are your career goals?

Asking these questions, then listening closely to the answers without interrupting, does three things:

  1. Builds rapport with the candidate.
  2. Tells you more about whether you should go further with them or focus elsewhere.
  3. Enables you to focus your pitch.

You need more than buzzwords here. A Millennial writer might say they want “more flexibility.” That might mean they want to be able to work 7-5 so they can pick their kid up from daycare. Or, it might mean they want the freedom to take on projects outside their job description.

Selling a job by saying that most of the employees are parents and are out of the office by 5 will turn off a candidate who’s used to going to happy hour with their colleagues a few times per week.

Save yourselves some time by getting to the bottom of what your Millennial wants.

How to do it right

Recruiting is sales, only harder. The most valuable candidates will always be the least interested in talking to you. That’s why you need to be on your A game to win them. If you learn how to tailor your approach to talk to Millennials they way they want to be talked to, you’re going to get a lot more in-demand workers willing to entertain your opportunities.

From the first interaction, be transparent and forthcoming. Do not call, or ask to set up a call,  until you’re both clear on job title, company, location, salary range, whether benefits are included, and whether remote work is possible. And when you do talk on the phone, be sure you understand who your candidate is and what they want before you start to pitch them on the job.

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