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How Recruiting Gen Y Differs from Recruiting Other Generations

Neek! #7
This is a guest post by Heather Huhman.

Generation Y, Millennials, The Internet Generation—it doesn't matter what you call them; they are the future of the workforce. If you speak to any seasoned recruiter about this generation, you may be surprised to learn that while this generation may be the most intelligent generation to join the workforce, they are also considered to be lazy and difficult to retain.

While these two characteristics often cast Gen Y in a negative light, thanks to this generation, recruiting has changed drastically and will continue to evolve. Three key factors make for major differences between Millennials and their predecessors when it comes to engaging and retaining this generation:

  • Technology: Gen Y has grown up with technology and its members are referred to as “digital natives.” This skill puts this generation at an advantage because they are able to integrate technology into all aspects of their work. Recruiters have noticed this trend and have begun to reach out to potential employees through online means other than job boards. It is very easy to build relationships with (and learn a lot about) future employees through networking sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. If your company is not using social media or other technologies to entice candidates, you are missing out on top talent.
  • Parents: Parents of Gen Y children are often called “helicopter parents,” thanks in part to their constant hovering and super-involvement in their children's lives. Never before have parents played such a big role in all aspects of their children's lives, and these parents don't just float away when their children head into the workforce. Hiring managers are reporting some parents are going so far as to accompanying their children to interviews and calling companies to inquire about the status of their children's résumés.
  • While this practice should by no means be encouraged, helicopter parents are hard to ignore. Rather than completely brush them off (as much as you may want to), a better practice is to keep them in the loop through blast e-newsletters. As always, remind them that it is their child applying for the job, not the parent and they are not helping their child's case by hovering too closely.
  • Higher Education: Gen Y is graduating from college with more knowledge than any generation before them. They have been told that they are invaluable to the companies that seek them. While they will bring a new breadth of knowledge to your workforce, there is one key aspect they have not been schooled on: how to behave in a professional environment with both superiors and peers.

Reports have shown that Gen Y has a strong sense of entitlement and feel as though they shouldn't have to work to earn their superior's respect and rewards. This is often off-putting to recruiters and puts these sorts of candidates at a disadvantage. The best way to mitigate behaviors such as this is to emphasize the way employees at your organization earn respect and move up the organizational ladder.

Heather R. Huhman is a career expert and founder & president of Come Recommended, an exclusive online community connecting the best internship and entry-level job candidates with the best employers. She is also the national entry-level careers columnist for and blogs about career advice at

Photo credit: Bootload
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  • MattMooreWrites's picture
    Nov 26 Posted 7 years ago MattMoore

    Finally, someone who isn't saying adaption to Gen Y is to surrender.

    I respect Linda Duxbury and find she has good things to say, but her approach to Gen Y's sense of entitlement and lack of understanding of business culture seems to be business must adapt to them.  That's right Boomers and Gen X and even some Silent Gens who are still working—we all must dismantle decades of business acumen because Todd wants to show up for work "whenever" wearing jeans and a Fall Out Boy T-shirt and is gonna take 3 months off to ski in Colorado and are you cool with that?

    One issue I do have is "Rather than completely brush them off... keep them in the loop through blast e-newsletters."  First, there are privacy issues here.  Secondly, you are giving ground.  Parents have no role in their children's hiring process, period.  Giving them an inch invites them to open the door wider.  Much like you recommend for their entitled kids, you have to take a hard line and lay down your expectations.

    Otherwise, an excellent article.

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