As you’re reading this (assuming it’s still Thursday, June 14), I’m “living it up” in Las Vegas. That’s right – I had the opportunity to attend the National Association of Colleges and Employers 2012 Conference and am probably sitting in a campus recruiting or workforce marketing session this very second.
Because it only makes sense to focus on something relative, and given that graduation season has recently passed, let’s talk a little more about the elusive group of talent that’s often referred to as Gen Y a.k.a. “The Millennials.”
Channels for Communicating with Generation Y Job Seekers
For the record, I am a Generation Y. And based on the belief that every person is simply a job seeker (no preface of active or passive), it’s been fairly easy to identify some common misconceptions and necessary considerations regarding the attraction and engagement of this group in the digital age.
First and foremost, these candidates are not so uniquely different from previous generations that traditional recruitment methods are null and void. That being said, there are notable differences in career objectives, length of employment, ideal employer profiles and more. And while these should drive your employer brand messaging, you must also shift your attention to the communication channels you choose to market your company and opportunities.
This brings us to the next point, which is this: regardless of age, generation, industry, etc… there is no one-size-fits-all solution for recruitment marketing, workforce marketing, and talent attraction. What there is, however, is an opportunity to create a method to the madness. By breaking down the talent attraction and engagement piece into five stages, choosing the best platforms is much more manageable and easy to understand.
The 5 Stages of Millenial Candidate Engagement
- Make them aware. The first step to reaching any audience is to make them aware of your company (hey, they can’t apply if they’ve never heard of you). This initial push will likely require a more proactive and aggressive approach, especially if you’re not a big brand. During this stage, you may turn to targeted recruitment advertising online or via mobile, LinkedIn InMail, e-mail campaigns, face-to-face networking events and more. These channels will help get you in front of the right candidates and increase their familiarity with your company.
- Influence their decisions. Once candidates are familiar with your organization, they may be ready to consider working for you. At this stage, it’s important to get a bit more friendly and start engaging potential applicants with your employer brand messaging and best practices. This can be done at campus events with print recruitment marketing collateral, as well as professional networks and industry communities online.
- Lure them in. You’ve already started influencing your target job seekers, so now it’s time to really lure them in and make them want to work for you. This is when it’s especially critical to understand who they are and what makes them tick. Then, you can play upon these things by showcasing your unique culture, top employees, training opportunities or whatever it may be through job-specific recruitment videos, social networks, talent communities, and other visual platforms – like Pinterest or Instagram. Simply put, if you’ve got it, flaunt it.
- Keep them engaged. It’s at this point that your target job seeker has become an applicant, and regardless of whether they receive an offer for that specific opening, you have to keep the conversation going. This is also the stage where candidate experience comes into play, and you have a real opportunity to step up and make it enjoyable. This means being available to answer questions in real time on platforms like Twitter and Facebook, while providing information on application status through good old fashioned e-mail or the telephone.
- Ask them to join the conversation. Finally, let’s say an offer is made to one or more of the candidates you’ve been courting. Assuming you’ve been actively involved and actually following through at each stage, what better way to promote your employer brand message to job seekers at the top of the funnel than by asking new hires to share their experience and what the process was like for them. A great place to do this is the company blog or your social careers accounts.
Gen Y Employer Branding Best Practices
While these stages are really the same for talent attraction and engagement, no matter what generation, remember that agility is key. You must be able and willing to adjust your strategy and select the proper communication channels based on your overall purpose and objective. This may mean utilizing LinkedIn groups more than your Facebook careers page for some candidates or eliminating newer platforms like Pinterest altogether. Remember employer branding is key. These are the best practices.
Being a longer post, this should be your key takeaway: do your research, develop a strategy, test and adapt as needed. Focus on becoming really good at each step as opposed to incorporating every tool available. Providing a customized approach will make job seekers feel important and sought after. And even if they don’t get hired, you have a much better chance of gaining a new, lifelong customer.
Autumn McReynolds is the Content Strategist and Lead Blogger for TalentMinded, an online publication focused on talent attraction and engagement in the digital age. After landing in the recruitment space in 2009, she has spent the past three years in the job board industry as both a recruiter and project manager, consulting with clients about job advertisements, employment brand and SEO strategies for attracting new candidates via job postings. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.