Meet your newest employee pool: Generation Y (or the millennial generation, born 1981-2000). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they are already about 24% of the working population this year.

This month about 1.7 million students will graduate college (most born about 1990). These potential candidates have vastly different impressions of work and reward than their older co-workers (Generation X, Baby Boomers).

According to a study by Sam Houston State University— our youngest team members want “fun, feedback, recognition, open mindedness, and advanced technology” from an employer culture.

Total Rewards expert Towers Watson “2011 Talent Management and Rewards Survey” found that Gen Y-ers looked first for career advancement opportunities, as well as being interested in competitive pay and learning and development (closely related to advancement). These are not a surprising list for anyone beginning their career—they want to learn how to apply the theories learned and develop their knowledge and earning potential.

Unfortunately for you, smaller employer, these are not the rewards that you are known for. Smaller enterprises often pay a bit less than the large companies in their area, lack “formal” career paths, and also tend to be extremely informal about training and development (just in time training might be a flattering description).

The good news is that since this is the worst job market for college graduates in 20 years, you can develop a convincing Employer Brand to position your small firm as a terrific option for this bumper crop of candidates.

Here is a list of questions you can use to differential what you offer, to attract these candidates:

  1. What is fun about this job? What is challenging about the work?
  2. How do you describe the People side of your firm—the co-workers, the supervisor, the clients
  3. What can someone learn in this job? How will this make them more marketable?
  4. What technology do you have that makes the job easier, cooler, or just less hassles than other similar jobs?
  5. What autonomy or independence do you give your employees? How about a flexible schedule?
  6. What does your firm do to help people or do something worthwhile or beneficial to the community?
  7. Find out what similar employers pay for a similar job, and then offer pay about the same (and communicate why this is competitive)
  8. Bonus—Gen Y’ers are looking for a position on the web and via social media—what can you do to promote your position and also make it easy for candidates to apply?

Engagement Recruiting Generation Y


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