People working at desks

Tips For Attracting Qualified Millennial Employees

Finding and retaining talented employees can be a continual challenge for small business owners, but it can be particularly challenging to attract millennial employees.

The millennial generation includes 56 million Americans who make up 35 percent of the nation’s workforce, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center report analyzing U.S. Census data. That number of millennials in the workforce will only continue to increase, with some estimates projecting they’ll make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2028.

Millennials are the most connected and disruptive generation in American history, but they often struggle to find good jobs that keep them engaged. The other current working generations have different ideas about work history and experience. Baby boomers see jobs as careers where they will spend most of their employable years. They are also retiring from the workforce in greater numbers. Generation X on the other hand, generally views work as “just” a job, placing a greater emphasis on work-life balance. In recent years, they have also taken the reigns of business leadership within their organizations.

According to a Gallup survey, what millennials expect from a job is different from their predecessors. Millennial employees seek jobs that offer purpose over paychecks, personal development over job satisfaction, coaches instead of bosses, ongoing conversation over annual reviews, and development of strengths over fixing weaknesses. To say idealism is one of the main characteristics of millennial employees would be an understatement.

When hiring millennial workers, use these four strategies to land the right candidate for your organization.

Focus on alternative experience and skills

Millennials can have anywhere between 1-15 years of working experience depending on their age and not all of them may have a long, impressive résumé. However, outside of work, this entire generation focuses on making a real difference in the world and millennials often have a track record of service that will be relevant to the jobs they seek. Search for applicable skills sets, in addition to real-world job experiences on millennial résumés. For example, volunteer work not only builds character, it teaches organizational and teamwork skills that apply in the business world for a variety of positions. Perhaps a candidate’s résumé also reveals memberships in clubs or entrepreneurial pursuits in private or public groups and these also involve skill sets that employers may value for a swath of job titles.

Social media ‘stalk’

Some 70 percent of employers today investigate a job applicant’s social media presence when making the decision to hire or pass, according to And why not? Social media posts reveal a lot about a person, and millennials are highly connected. Understanding how a potential hire behaves on social media can provide solid insight into their professionalism and help determine if they are the type of person that fits a business’s culture.

When investigating a social media presence, see if the applicant posts consistently in ways that could harm or help your business. Look for positives, such as information that backs up qualifications listed on a résumé, professional online personas, if the applicant follows and engages with the company or its rivals on social media, and what others post online about the applicant. Also search for red flags, such as posts containing inappropriate photos, videos or language; posts that reveal drug use or alcohol abuse; posts that criticize previous employers or clients; posts that discriminate against someone’s race, gender or religion; and/or posts that display poor communications skills.

Don’t forget social media also includes professional sites, such as LinkedIn, which can provide a wealth of career information on a prospect and make it easier to find potential references to contact and ask questions about the applicant.

Showcase the value of the role

Office spaces offering ping pong tables, nap rooms and free snacks are a few of the stereotypical characteristics of the modern workplace that attract millennials. But most small businesses are not in a position to offer those kinds of frills.

The truth is, while those perks are fine, millennials truly seek jobs that provide purpose or meaning. They want to know what the position offers beyond salary and benefits. Millennials are passionate about growth opportunities, as well as finding something that will fulfill their desire to make the world a better place or serve a worthy cause. They want to work for companies that have a positive social impact and foster their own career growth. Millennials see community involvement, networking opportunities, mentorship, office culture and a sense of pride in the work as desirable benefits.

Employers should have a well-crafted mission statement and vision and show the potential employee a clear path to future success either at the company or in the field.

Understand needs for higher pay

Finally, despite their idealism and pull toward purpose over paycheck, millennial employees still have to pay the bills. And their debt loads are greater. Millennials carry student loans and other debt and have higher expenses than job seekers in older generations. Millennials 25-34 years old now carry $42,000 in debt on average, CNBC reported in August 2018. As a result, millennials often request higher salaries even if their experience doesn’t match the request. Salary offers should be commensurate with experience and the position, but don’t be surprised by a bold counter-offer from a millennial applicant.

Millennials are completely reimagining the 9-to-5 job and the traditional expectations that come with it. As older millennials begin to move into leadership positions and younger millennials enter the workforce for the first time, it’s important for business owners to take a step back and understand what motivates this generation so they can attract members of this creative and hard-working cohort.

EMPLOYERS is committed to helping small businesses operate safer, more efficient work places. Contact EMPLOYERS® today to learn more about our cost-effective workers’ compensation insurance.

The information provided is intended to provide a general overview. This information is not legal advice and should not be relied on as such. EMPLOYERS makes no warranties for the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness of the information provided, and will not be responsible for any actions taken based on the information contained herein. If you have legal questions or need legal advice, please consult an attorney.