By 2020, millennials will comprise half the global workforce. Given this fact and the overwhelming number of millennials in the workplace already, I decided to look into some of the differences between recruitment methods favoured by employers and the actual channels used by millennials to look for employment. My choice to focus on this is based on reports that the UK employment skills gap is widening, so it is imperative that employers address this and look for solutions.
The focus is predominantly from a graduate and apprentice point of view but this links into the wider challenge reported by UK employers in a recent survey. They noted that they still find it hard to find suitable candidates for all of their roles.
“In a system where learner choice plays an increasingly important role, it is ever more important for young people to access good information, advice and guidance on the likely skills needed by employers in the future.”
The above text comes from a report run by the BBC. This is an interesting perspective on the challenge faced by UK employers and could well be the key to identifying the key issues behind this and, ultimately, addressing the problem effectively.
There are many recruitment methods and channels that employers use for hiring millennials, but not all of them are in line with where the target audience is looking or how the target audience is actually using the channels. From my research, I gathered that both sides like to make use of careers services provided by academies, colleges and universities as this is an effective way of helping students uncover and secure work placements. Social media also plays a big part for both sides (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, etc). However, when it comes to looking for their first job, there is a definite difference in the methods used:
On top of social media and career services, millennials make use of the vast amount of information available on the internet such as top 100 company lists in a chosen field, hashtags linked to topics of interest to them, feedback from current employees of companies they are interested in and places that promote a feel good factor (via employee posts on social media and word of mouth). This is a very cautious generation where there are so many choices to make but, with a wealth of information at their fingertips, it falls to employers to get their name and brand out there to attract interest. It’s important to note that whilst millennials will use these channels for research, they don’t often use them to actually apply for roles. This part of the process is usually approached through more formal channels such as job adverts, company websites or through their networks.
Employers (not all but a good number) seem to use channels in a slightly different way. For example, they may use social media to advertise roles with the hope of receiving applications through those channels but, as we saw above, millennials tend to use social media as a means to research jobs and brands.
One solution is that businesses could focus more on their employer branding. They can do this by partnering with marketing teams or branding specialists and focus more on telling a compelling story about their organisation. There is a perception that employers need to have bottomless pits of money or endless marketing budgets in order to have successful employer branding, but this simply isn’t the case — by engaging with current employees, organisations can leverage their thoughts and feelings about the business. This may well uncover perspectives that hadn’t been considered before. Of course, to ensure there is a level of control around the messages given out, it’s easy enough to ensure consistency by asking anyone who contributes to base their comments on existing values or a specific topic that fits in with company culture. This will help to give a realistic view to anyone showing an interest in the business, and this messaging should resonate with the target audience.
The UK is challenged to attract young people into careers affected by the skills shortage, with Maths and Science declines by 74 percent and 56 percent among girls and boys respectively during secondary school.
"Just one in eleven young people take Maths and Physics at A Level despite leaving primary school with high levels of interest. Absence of good quality information and advice on job prospects for Maths and Science subjects skews young people’s choices."
The paragraph above shows that there is clearly something that needs to be done by employers to address the shortage of students taking options that could lead them into a career based on the STEM subjects. As mentioned above, this is a cautious age group so they need as much information as possible to help them understand what opportunities might be available to them and then choose the right options whilst they are still studying. Over the past few years, the careers departments in many educational establishments have gone from small rooms with a few books into well-funded centres with a proactive approach to engaging with businesses. The more organizations take advantage of this transformation, the more they can proactively combat the skills shortage and plan for the future of their workforce.
Mike is an account manager at WilsonHCG. He has a passion for modern languages, specifically Spanish and French, and started out his recruitment career working at a specialist agency for languages prior to moving into the RPO space. With experience in multiple industry sectors, Mike has recruited at most levels, from graduate and apprentice levels to senior executives. Outside of work, Mike has a young family and plays squash in his local county leagues.