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Attracting and Recruiting Gen Y


How to attract the players when the game itself has changed?

Attracting and Recruiting Gen YAART – Accessibility, Authenticity, Relevancy and Trust. These are the traits that your company must exhibit to attract and recruit Generation Y (born between ~1979-1999), according to Lauren Friese from in a recent webinar. A member of the ‘where you want it, when you want it’ generation herself, Lauren has some excellent assertions which I think really embody this demographic.

This generation has grown up in an era where information is readily accessible, where PVR has allowed them to fast forward through commercials, and where search engines allow them to instantly access information. They’ve been able to block out advertisements, both online and off, and don’t like corporate messages to interrupt what they are doing.

As the younger working generation is somewhat immune to traditional advertising messages, they are hypersensitive to what can be considered authentic messages from companies. This can contribute, at least in part, to the rise of social media amongst this generation as they are receptive to authentic messages directly from a company or employer.

Messages directed at GenY must be relevant to what they are doing in that moment. Lauren suggests that instead of trying to contact them when they are engaging in social activities (for example, when using Facebook), share your employer brand when they are looking for career advice. Job boards and LinkedIn are therefore relevant, as is the information that appears at the top of search engine results. As Google has proven to be both accessible and authentic to this generation, they will place a stronger value on those websites and/or companies that are most relevant to what they are looking for.

Gen Y also looks to influencers for advice, whether it is their parents, professors, career counsellors or friends. Endorsements are much more impactful than paid advertisements, as this generation also relies on sites like Yelp, blogs and forums to solicit feedback on anything from restaurants, to music, to retailers, to potential employers. For your brand to stand out, you need to have trustworthy sources promoting your brand.

What does this mean for advertising, whether for customer or employee acquisition? Generation Y is much more susceptible to messages delivered through ‘earned media’. So, what is this you ask?

In traditional offline media, earned media is typically press coverage. These messages are endorsed by a third party (the press!) and therefore offer the semblance of greater credibility over paid advertising. In the online world, earned media can include press coverage, directories, organic search results and social media – all outlets embraced by Gen Y.

Looking at some social media sites, Lauren Friese offers the following perspectives:

Facebook: Employers should be on Facebook in case people go there for company news, although they should be cautious about investing a lot of budget or time into this medium for advertising purposes. GenY uses Facebook to socialize, not find a job. Employers should always ensure they are relevant, and therefore not engage in any paid advertising.

Twitter: While not many students are using Twitter, their trusted influencers (including career centres, professional associations etc.) are. Engaging with these individuals will allow you to indirectly communicate with the younger working generation.

LinkedIn: The most relevant purely social media site for job hunting, LinkedIn is being used by students as they are accessing the site to build their careers. Companies can also earn their trust as former employees and/or recommendations offer additional endorsement.

Job boards: As students are coming to these sites specifically to look for opportunities, job boards pass the relevance test. Their biggest dislike, however, is that jobs may not be relevant if students have not met the minimum work experience requirements to be considered.

Search engines: Google has earned the trust of society as it has consistently provided the best results of relevant search queries. Savvy employers will consider what GenY is typing into the search field. While it is near impossible for the myriad of companies to all own the top spot for “top graduate employer”, they can leverage those sites that do appear at the top of search results.

YouTube: A very under-utilized medium for employer branding, this site encapsulates all of the AART principles. User-generated videos are typically authentic and allow companies to have honest conversations that are relevant and accessible. Videos do not have to be high-budget to be effective. A flipcam is inexpensive and provides you the ability to express why your company is a great place to work from those who actually work there.

Destination Sites: Blogs, MSN, Yahoo, the Globe & Mail are all sites that embrace the AART principles and give you a platform to again communicate your employer brand.

The rules of the game as well as the players have changed. Online communications have forever altered the role of the HR professional and likewise the candidates they are looking to attract. As we again turn our focus on employee attraction (and retention), GenY will be a key demographic to ensure your company has the talent it needs to succeed.

I’d love to hear your perspectives on recruiting GenY, both successes and challenges. Comment at our Facebook page  or contact me on Twitter at @ryanstgermaine.

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