Six Ways to Attract Millennial Tech Talent

Six Ways to Attract Millennial Tech Talent

The old methods of employee engagement just don’t cut it with today’s young graduates. So what can you do?

When writing about millennials in the workplace, it’s easy to generalise, but it’s certainly true that the career dreams and motivations of many Generation Y professionals are wildly different to those of their parents.

As this new breed tends to operate in a completely new way, applying old-school methods of attracting and retaining them are not likely to be very effective. Just try ensnaring a hotshot young tech whizz with the promise that they may one day bag a corner office, and watch them glaze over.

Millennials are variously dismissed as needy, lazy, self-centred and unable to commit, but all they really are is a bit different to the generations that have gone before. And what they want, says Neeta Patel, CEO of the New Entrepreneurs Foundation, is to work for a company they like. “They want a job that will make them feel good about their contribution to the workplace, the community at large, and ultimately themselves,” she says.

A tall order? Possibly – but don’t panic. Here’s our insider’s guide to recruiting and retaining talented young techies.

1. Swipe right

A recruitment app called Switch borrows from the millennial-friendly Tinder interface by enabling hirers and talent to swipe right if they like what they see and swipe left if they don’t. It’s currently only available in New York and San Francisco, but it suggests that there’s much more to modern recruitment than LinkedIn.

More proof? Last year, digital agency Fetch actually recruited a new intern by wooing him on Tinder. JPMorgan Chase, meanwhile, has been using Snapchat to find millennial talent. “You have to reach people where they are – and they’re on Snapchat,” chief marketing officer Kristin Lemkau told Business Insider.

2. Plan birthday treats

“Millennials like to feel appreciated in the workplace,” says Lee Biggins, MD and founder of online job-search tool CV-Library. “Recent research of ours has found that paid time off for their birthdays was just one of the workplace perks that they’re after.”

Biggins says numerous unconventional benefits and rewards came up in his survey: not far behind time off for birthdays were nap rooms, games areas and even the chance to have an office pet. “Keeping your workforce happy and motivated has always been important,” says Biggins, who has a number of tech-savvy Gen Y-types in his company. “But clearly millennials are looking for some more unique and interesting perks to make their workdays more enjoyable.”

3. Invite their mates

US-headquartered payments start-up Stripe has an unusual approach to recruiting millennials: it invites them to apply as small teams. The concept has been dubbed ‘bring your own team’ (BYOT), and last year Stripe’s engineering manager, Avi Bryant, wrote on the company blog that teams of two to five people could apply if they felt they were stronger as a team than they were apart. “Working together,” he wrote, “each of you has a valuable advantage – you could call it a network effect – over anyone who works alone.” The invitation was pitched at software engineers, but perhaps any tight-knit group of millennials could bring something special to a progressive young business.

“The rapid acceleration in the power of social media over the past 10 years means that workplace culture and social community is very important to millennials”

Eleanor Cook, marketing executive, Oak

4. Play games

‘Escape rooms’ have proliferated over the past few years, and the hipsters drawn to these city-centre problem-solving attractions are typically young and smart. Millennials have been brought up on games, so why not ‘gamify’ everything from the recruitment process to the job itself – just as Nextiva did when it created analytics software for sales teams that creates friendly competition. If Google can use riddles during the interview stage and Dyson can tap into the millennial psyche with a video brainteaser to entice “the smartest thinkers”, then maybe you can, too.

Says Natalie Riddick, head of HR at Explore Learning: “The vast majority of our employees fall within the ‘millennial’ bracket, and because we know that millennials are ambitious and target driven, our quarterly performance competitions give managers the opportunity to win team trips to incredible places, including Miami, New York and Iceland.”

5. Go social

Eleanor Cook, marketing executive of Oak – a cloud-based intranet service provider – has seen the number of millennial employees in the workplace rise rapidly. She reckons that these Uber-reliant, iPhone-happy go-getters are living life at a far faster pace than their predecessors. “The rapid acceleration in the power of social media over the past 10 years means that workplace culture and social community is very important to millennials,” she says.

As a result, they are often open to doing fun things with colleagues outside the workplace. “Charity fundraisers, team-building trips, social get-togethers – they’re all crucial elements for ensuring they remain keen and motivated,” says Cook. Just remember that the old lines between work and play are increasingly blurred in the eyes of millennials.

6. Stock up on farewell cards

“Millennials know a job isn’t for life; it’s just a stepping stone,” says Rachel Carrell, founder of nanny-sharing start-up Koru Kids. “We recognise this, and so we make sure that our stepping stone is the best possible one it can be.”

Even when writing job advertisements, Carrell likes to emphasise that people who leave go on to do great things. “It might seem strange to an older person that we’re already talking about people leaving,” says Carrell, “but that’s the reality today and we love being able to say, ‘Do great things with us, then do great things because of us.’”

Carrell is definitely on to something. Preparing for the inevitable and having fun while it lasts might just be the smartest thing a savvy employer can do.



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