Recruiting Generation Y is a topic on the minds of countless recruiters across the globe. As more and more of the Baby Boomer generation approach retirement, Generation X workers disperse into those former roles, and recruiting efforts focus on sourcing from the Generation Y. This is part one of a two part series. Today, I will share some information that will help you to better understand the Generation Y candidate, their motivations, and their general characteristics. Next week, I’ll discuss how to use this information to implement the best recruiting methods for this generation.
Generation Y, sometimes called Generation Next, typically refers to those individuals born in the early 1980’s (1982 or 1983) through early 2000’s (2003 or 2004). You will also often hear the term "Millennial" coined by William Straus and Neil Howe in their book; Millennials Rising : The Next Generation to refer to this demographic. Actually, I found a lot of terms used to describe this generation: The Lost Generation, the Net Generation, iGeneration, the myPod Generation. Echo-boomers was another used frequently. That term came about as a reference to the children of "baby boomers" being "echo boomers'. Those kids really started more in the late 70s though. Generation Y certainly includes children born to my generation as well, Generation X.
It doesn't really matter what title you give this generation. What is important to a recruiter is that fact that over 50% of the population of the world is under 30 years old. This should be important to you. If you are not already seeing a huge trend in this group being your talent target, you will be. Today is a good day to start trying to understand that generation.
This generation, I'll use Gen Y to define, comes with a whole new outlook on what a career should be. Why wouldn't they? The world is their oyster, so to speak. Their world has seen things former generations only dreamed of in the way of accessible higher education, cutting-edge technology, and cultural development. They can actually work in HongKong from their desk in rural Iowa if they want to. These individuals were practically born into the world-wide web and can spring around it as they choose just like tiny spiders.
Internet access and mobile communication devices have been a part of their world from the beginning too. This has made an impact on the Gen Y's ability to stay in close contact with parents, teachers, family, and peers. They can get advice from someone they trust online, instant, and with a global scope. They can do it from almost anywhere, at anytime. This results in a strong back-up, or support network, aka their helicopter parents.
When you begin to investigate the characteristics of the Gen Y, keep in mind that economic and cultural differences among this generation can impact general traits just as it has any other. Most of this generation is described by various intellectuals as "Green-loving", or concerned about the environment. They are open and civic minded individuals, who are highly motivated to make an impact on the world. They understand and respect equality and diversity. That is what most sources say. Other sources view and describe the traits they see in this generation pretty harshly. I read some descriptions that called this generation, entitled and narcissistic, even lazy or lacking motivation. While no generation is perfect, for the record, I disagree with the latter. There will always be members of any generation that do not excel, but let's be honest, recruiters aren't looking for those people and they are NOT all "those people".
It is my opinion that Generation Y is really just misunderstood. They have high expectations, yes, but that doesn't mean they have entitlement issues. Maybe we are just a little bit jealous? It’s true, most in this generation are not willing to settle. Who could blame them? After all, they are the ones in demand right? They have choices and they know it. Remember, this generation can barely recall a time without the ability to Google anything they want to know. They have the power of endless information and resources on their side. A college education is no longer just a dream, it is expected, and accessible to almost everyone.
So what are we missing? How can we better understand Generation Y? We should probably start with listening to them. Their opinions and culture are readily available to us on that thing they grew up on - the internet. We have the power to put the internet on our side as well. This group very openly attempts to let us know what they are all about. They understand their ability to voice their opinion on anything, and they do it often. They will give you their two cents on a game, movie, restaurant, public figure or (can you guess?) a JOB OPENING in a tweet, a facebook post, a YouTube video, with a Google+, a photo on Instagram or a pinned link. Good or bad, they can make their opinion known to their contacts, their contacts share it with their contacts, and before you know it, viral. Wait. Have heard that somewhere before? :)
Next week I will talk about how to harness what we know about Generation Y to improve your ability to recruit the most talented in this demographic. Stay tuned!
Amy McDonald is the President and CEO at REKRUTR. She has been working in the human resources and recruiting industry for over 20 years. Amy has worked with hundreds of recruitment professionals throughout her career, training best practices in sourcing candidates and refining the recruitment process. In her spare time, Amy participates as a thought leader in Recruiting for BIZCATALYST360° - See more at: http://rekrutr.com/blog/