Recruiting Millennials: Lessons Learned from Pokémon GO
I managed to remain oblivious to the Pokémon GO phenomenon until a segment about it appeared on the evening news. City workers were tasked with the overnight spraying of mosquitos in local areas that had tested positive for West Nile Virus. Unfortunately for the crew, one of the city parks was almost never empty due to it being a “hot spot” for a sought after Pokémon. Knowing this you might expect the park to be overrun with “tweens” or teenagers, but they were mostly adults in their twenties, aka millennials, instead.
Ironically, what attracted millennials to the Pokémon GO craze (a non-work activity), its social nature, lifelike interactivity, use of technology, visual images and level of difficulty, provides insight into how companies can recruit the same population into employment. Elements of the game have direct application to recruiting.
Why did I choose to write about recruiting millennials? As of 2015, millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000, represent the largest single demographic in the U.S. workforce. According to the Pew Research Center, the rapid growth of this segment is partly attributable to an increase of college educated foreign nationals immigrating to the U.S. early in their careers. Between 2010 and 2015, almost 50% of new immigrant workers were millennials. The bottom line is your recruiting strategy has to target millennials, just due to their sheer numbers.
Millennials are Different
Millennials are social and prefer to work in groups or collaborate in some fashion more than previous generations. It’s in their DNA. Technology and social media are simply the tools they use to seek out additional information and solicit insights from a community of people not restrained to their postal code or place of employment. When they are looking for their next position, many start with social media, asking their connections if they enjoy their position, feel invested in the company they work for and whether they know of any openings. Next, with names in hand, they will “Google” for more information, searching for clues about a company’s stability, culture, community involvement and reviews from current and former employees.
Recognizing and understanding how this generation searches for jobs is important. Your Internet presence and the degree to which your company shares information and interacts online are too. So are online reviews, i.e., Glassdoor. Do you have a blog? Most companies have a website, albeit that doesn’t mean the content is up-to-date, but not all have created company profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube. Blogs are even less common and so is online interaction. The next question is whether or not any of your online content is geared towards recruiting? When it comes to millennials, this is a requirement.
Posting open positions on LinkedIn is a great example of what millennials expect, as it will help them to see who they may know at your company and to network with employees. This is critical feedback, something millennials often see as a requirement to seriously consider working at any company. It also enables accepting online applications. With one third of the current U.S. workforce characterized as millennials, embracing social media is also a means to gain a competitive advantage in an industry where you have to actively compete for talent to maintain a healthy pipeline.
According to the website Statista, 130 billion apps worldwide were downloaded from Apple’s App Store, in June 2016. StartApp data showed that 92% of the adults who downloaded the game were between 18 and 34 years of age and one in three were women. If Pokémon GO or any other app required users to read lengthy text before being used, the numbers would not be as high. Most apps approach product instruction via visual presentation, with screenshots and minimal text, or through a video. The intent is to present information clearly and concisely and in a way that can be quickly understood by the user. The same communication dynamic holds true for millennials.
To connect with this talent pool, utilize communication approaches that include strong visual elements. Elaborate video conferencing equipment is often used for business meetings, but try using Skype or something similar to facilitate candidate interviews. When you are ready to discuss benefits, create visuals or graphics to complement written material. Using online meeting tools such as WebEx or GoToMeeting is visual, collaborative and helps with participant engagement. Short videos, two to three minutes in length, of current employees discussing topics such as on boarding, expectations in the first 90 days, work culture and company sponsored volunteer activities are great ways to communicate to millennials. It is also a great way to demonstrate the diversity within your organization.
If you utilize the expertise of a relocation management company (RMC), they can assist you in constructing a policy that will be attractive to millennials. Policy design is one of the most important services offered by RMCs. Often a core plan with flexible benefits (see below) is best for this demographic. While millennials are known for wanting choices and being able to customize their experience for their own interests, sometimes letting recruits select benefits entirely on their own can end badly. The advantage of a core-flex plan is that you can make sure new hires have access to the most important benefits, but still leave the candidate plenty of room for customization. A relocation counselor can conduct a needs assessment to assist your candidate with choosing the right services.
The Road Ahead
For companies, the pursuit of long term millennial engagement will be a tough road. Deloitte’s 2016 Millennial Survey reported that two-thirds of those surveyed plan to leave their job by 2020. Companies must convince their candidates and employees that they understand their personal and career needs, share common values and are invested in providing opportunities for professional growth and development.
Much like with Pokémon GO millennials want challenging positions with opportunities to grow and advance. It is a good idea to share advancement opportunities that are customary for a candidate’s position with this audience, even when opportunities are not currently available and cannot be guaranteed. Training and development programs are also important, as they consistently appear in the top 10 desired employer-provided benefits. U.S. and foreign rotational and short-term assignments serve as some of the best development opportunities to offer. Assignments provide employees a means to engage in new challenges, further develop their professional skills and gain a more well-rounded perspective.
Evaluating your recruiting strategy is the first step to prepare or get ahead of others when it comes to recruiting millennials. In a multigenerational workforce, they will continue to shape our world as their numbers are projected to exceed that of even the Baby Boomers.