Missing the (Recruiting) Mark? Myths about Millennials
A few years ago, TIME Magazine ran a cover story that made headlines of its own. In “Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation,” the magazine outlined in black and white all of the stereotypical horrors of Generation Y. The author used studies to back up the notion that millennials are the laziest, most self-absorbed generation in history.
There’s only one problem: Every generation gets labeled as the laziest and most self-absorbed of any in history.
Generation X was the “Slacker Generation.” Baby boomers were the “Me Generation.” It’s only natural for older folks to look down at young people and write them off based on the wisdom they have accrued since they too were new to the world of work.
The Millennial Myth
A quick Google search about millennials in the workplace kicks back results laden with adjectives like selfish, impulsive, careless, unenthusiastic and inattentive. However, when you dig deeper, you see that underlying these supposed traits are things like a drive for personal and career development, the desire to find meaningful work, the desire to lead, the ability to multitask and more.
Stereotyping is never a good thing, especially when it comes to recruiting. Misconceptions about millennials — or any generation — can lead to bias and even discrimination. Just as an individual should not be defined by race, religion, ethnicity, gender or socioeconomic background, they also should not be defined by their generation.
Consider this: Generation Y spans in age from college students to parents in their mid-30s. Painting millennials with a broad brush isn’t just unfair; it simply doesn’t work.
Just How Different Are the Generations?
You might be saying to yourself, “There have to be differences in generations. I see it all day long at my organization!” If so, you’ll be interested to learn that a recent IBM study looked at the differences between generations in the workplace and concluded that millennials really aren’t that different from their older colleagues. In fact, the only significant difference found was a higher technical aptitude among Generation Y.
IBM reports that people from every generation are equally likely to seek out meaningful work, want to make a positive impact on their employer, and value diversity. They also learned that older people are equally as willing to leave a job for money or incompatibility as their younger cohorts.
So why do millennials get labeled differently?
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin wanted to know and discovered that the differences between generations are a product of perception, rather than actual differences in values. In other words, we see what we want to see when we group a generation of people together. And while some differences in motivators exist, different generations really aren’t so different at all.
How to Break Through the Stereotypes
So, if millennials are stereotyped and misunderstood, how can you make sound judgments throughout the recruiting process? Behavioral interviews are one important tool that hiring teams can use to evaluate whether or not an individual is a good fit.
Another useful tool is a personality test. Psychologists have found little evidence to show that our personalities change significantly over time, so an individual’s personality at age 14 will look very similar when they are 24, 34, 44, etc., which lends accuracy to the testing.
When used together, personality tests and behavioral interviews can paint a detailed picture of how someone is likely to behave on the job. When you understand the behaviors that drive success in a role, you will be better equipped to match candidates with the behavior patterns you are looking for.
One of the keys to success when attempting to evaluate potential behavior is to focus on how someone behaves over the long term. Why? Because behavior can easily be altered for short periods of time, but inherently, we all revert back to our natural tendencies. This means that behavioral interviews must be thorough and robust, to help identify patterns that show themselves over time.
The Secret Weapon You Need
Gather a group of millennials together who all applied for the same position, and you’ll find that most of them have equal skills and knowledge. But if you spend time talking to individuals for even just a few minutes, you’ll discover that each is quite unique and brings specific strengths and weaknesses to the table.
No matter what generation a person can be classified into, a strong recruiting process looks beyond the superficial and effectively evaluates the likelihood that a candidate will thrive on the job. Even with personality and behavioral testing, this is no easy task. To complicate things even more, many internal HR teams are not equipped with the money, the manpower, the resources or the time it takes to make such strong matches.
When you partner with a strategic recruiting firm, you instantly access the tools necessary to make strong matches. Professional recruiters have the time, resources and experience to thoroughly vet all potential candidates and evaluate them for a strong fit. This frees up your internal staff to focus on business-critical initiatives while your staffing partner focuses on hiring.
Stop focusing on generational labels and start looking at your candidates as individuals with unique experiences, perspectives, talents and goals. This is the only way you can attract and retain the top talent you need to help your business thrive.