Why Your Staffing Firm Can’t Attract Millennials


Admit it, your company is graying a bit at the temples. The bulk of your team remembers the Sony Walkman, the ’85 Bears winning Super Bowl XX, and a time when Bruce Willis actually had hair.

But so what?

Your 20 year recruiting and sales veterans are exceptional. Their cumulative candidate market and sales knowledge makes any business owner green with envy. Their expertise makes your biggest decisions less agonizing and way less of a gamble. It’s pretty clear: success today (and in the past) depends upon their honed and time-honored approach to doing business.

But what about success tomorrow?

The staffing and recruiting world no longer moves at analog speeds. What was an effective and fruitful recruiting tactic yesterday might change as quickly as you change your applicant tracking system. That’s why to be competitive tomorrow, firms need a younger workforce geared towards tomorrow’s problems. Primarily, that means you need to attract Millennials.

How does your 40 something management team hire 20 somethings recruiters? You’ve been involved in the staffing industry for decades (that’s right, plural) and it’s clear you need to build your recruiting and sales team with some younger blood. If you don’t, it’s probably time to sell your staffing and recruiting firm while your revenue and its reputation are close to the top of their game.

Here’s some food for thought in order to bring your staff’s median age down into the 30s:

Give them Flexibility

The traditional way that we used to work is disappearing. In the past, the barrier between work time and personal time was built like the outer walls of a bunker. There were no gaps to mix the two. Changes in technology – accessible work emails, cell phones, and your ATS in the cloud  – have made that distinction porous. And that’s the way younger workers want it.

Millennials as a group are drawn to flexibility. PWC found that 66% of Millennials would like a flexible schedule and 64% wanted the ability to occasionally work from home. In fact, employees across generations were attracted to greater workplace flexibility. To them, work is output and results, not hours punched into a time clock. They aren’t as concerned with a defined division between their work and personal lives.

You might be saying, that’s all good and fine for their peace of mind, but what about their productivity? Studies are finding that turnover and work-related stress decrease and employee commitment to the company increases when a flexible schedule is available. All of those ingredients go on to increase productivity.

Workplace flexibility also mirrors the buying patterns exhibited by candidates and clients. Old school recruiters will remember the days when candidates could only safely take calls after their dinner was over. Now, candidates are willing to talk early morning, noon, and even late at night. Do you expect your team to be in the office for all of those calls?

Even your clients are embracing flexible schedules. Studies show 38% of employers are allowing some staff members to work from home and 43% let employees compress or spread out their work hours. Your people need to be responsive to that.

Trust is a must in today’s world. If you trust your team and give them flexible leeway to complete their jobs, regardless of where or when, you’ll do more than just attract Millennials. You’ll reach clients and candidates when it’s right for them, increasing your total placements beyond previous levels.

Be Progressive

Appearances matter. Job seekers hear that when looking for a new job and the same advice applies to your businesses. You wouldn’t knowingly wear a tattered suit with a mildewed fragrance when conducting an important interview. It’s not the type of impression you want to give. Yet countless staffing firms willingly make a bad first impression with archaic websites, frumpy designs, and company descriptions cut right out of the 1980s.

Millennials don’t want to waste their time at just any old company. Really, who does? An IBM study found that 42% of Millennials, 42% of Baby Boomers, and 47% of Gen Xers are willing to quickly leave a company if it doesn’t fulfill their passion. Good luck attracting them in the first place if you fail to stoke their passion from jump street.

How does your business go about rectifying that? A clear and engaging impression will definitely help.

Your website needs to appear dynamic and lead visitors where you want them to go. Your web content needs to suck in a potential buyer’s interest with the gravitational pull of a black hole. Beyond that, you need to have an online presence that extends beyond your website. That includes regular social media engagement and a blog that don’t have an oily sales veneer.

Also, does your office appear old and stale? It’s time for an update. Getting rid of that old décor in your sales and recruiting quads is only one way to do it. The majority of Millennials (88%) want a job with great work-life integration. Since they’ll be working outside the office, it’s important to offer ways to loosen up their minds for complex projects. That can be achieved by the gamification of sales and recruiting objectives, regular team outings, or even setting up game systems and ping pong in the break room.

Provide a Sense of Purpose

To attract Millennials to your business, it’s important to review where they want to work. The National Society of High School Scholars listed these 10 companies as the top employers that the Millennial generation tends to pursue:

  • Jude Children’s Research Hospital
  • Google
  • Walt Disney Company
  • Apple
  • Their local hospital
  • The FBI
  • DreamWorks Animation SKG
  • Health Care Service Corp.
  • Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
  • The CIA

What’s the common denominator that all of these companies share? It’s that all of these professions have an overt impact on the world. Though you don’t need to have the swagger of Google or St. Jude’s, it needs to be clear that your business matters in the scheme of things.

How do you make that apparent? Give Millennials a sense of importance:

  • Highlight the Good Things You Do. The staffing industry isn’t inert. Every successful placement your company makes has a positive ripple effect in the outside world. Don’t underplay that. Remind Millennial employees that your company can be a catalyst for good in people’s lives. Make sure your marketing materials, interview strategy, and public image accentuate that. 
  • Show You Volunteer. Also, is your team volunteering or partnering with local charities? Don’t let that PR win go unspoken. Studies found that 55% of Millennials consider a company’s involvement with social causes when thinking over an offer. Any community or charitable involvement that your team contributes to will go a long way towards winning over a Millennial’s sense of optimism.
  • Get Millennials Involved in Strategic Decisions. It’s a scary prospect. Many of these young recruiters and sellers are still cutting their teeth in the staffing world. But they’re more than wet clay on a potter’s wheel. They have a unique perspective shaped for modern challenges. Get them involved in brainstorming sessions about new recruiting strategies and lead gathering. Partner them up with mentors who are unafraid to occasionally let them take the lead with buyers. If you’re feeling bold, set them loose on projects that have flummoxed your veteran recruiting and sales team.

When a Millennial’s work matters, you’ll find they commit to the solution

Why Make the Effort?

You don’t need a weather vane to know which way the wind blows. Millennials will soon become a dominant portion of any recruiting and staffing firm. By 2025, Baby Boomers will essentially be gone, Gen Xers will be getting ready for retirement, and Generation Z (today’s pre-teen and teens) will just be starting out. Millennials will be running the show at big companies. That is, if they don’t all go into business for themselves.

A Deloitte study found that Millennials as a group might be drifting away from traditional full time employment. In fact, we might see 70% of Millennials rejecting traditional organizations in favor of independent work made possible by digital tech.

That puts the future of your staffing firm in a serious predicament. What is going to keep them from becoming millions of competing solo act recruiters? It’s attracting your share of the Millennial talent market now.

If you need to dust the cobwebs off your professional or online image, give us a shout. We see this challenge daily and we’ll have our 20 somethings talk to your 40 somethings about making a change. Let us know where you want to start.