What Millennials are Looking for When Job Searching

Millennials, the generation born between 1981 and 1996, have surpassed Gen Xers and Baby Boomers as the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, according to the Pew Research Center. While Millennials are often seen as young twenty-somethings fresh out of college, many of them are now approaching, or into, their thirties. They have years of work experience under their belts and many will be moving into leadership positions within the next few years.

SEE ALSO: Managing a Multigenerational Workforce in the Age of The Millennial

In fact, the U.S. Government Accountability office estimated that 3.6 million executive leaders are eligible for retirement as of 2017, which will open the door for more Gen Xers and Millennials in the C-suite.

Because of Millennials’ growing stature within the workforce, HR leaders need to design recruiting and onboarding processes tailored to this generation. Organizations can’t afford to miss out on today’s best available talent, because that talent will quickly turn into tomorrow’s top executives.  

But this begs the question: What exactly are Millennials looking for when job searching?

Competitive Compensation & Benefits

Millennials aren’t very different from other generations when it comes to their top priorities. One survey found that Millennials ranked compensation as their main consideration when looking at new jobs.  

Why? Debt plays a big role. Over 44 million Americans have student loans, but credit card debt exacerbates the problem. Millennials have an average of $42,000 in debt, according to a study from Northwestern Mutual, and Millennials with college degrees are actually more likely to have credit card debt than their non-degree holding peers. All this debt has caused many Millennials to delay major life events, such as buying a home, saving for retirement, getting married, or having children.

So, companies should offer salary and benefits packages in line with, or better than, their competitors. Consider tuition reimbursement programs, retirement matching, or college savings plans. Recruiters should also discuss compensation early in the recruitment process. Half of Millennials say they would consider taking a job at a different company if it offered a raise of 20% or less.

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Employer Loyalty

Millennials are often seen as the job-hopping generation, but a Capital Group study found that only 30% of Millennial workers have held three or more jobs over the past five years. And two-thirds of Millennials said they value loyalty to their employer. But they’re also willing to move on if their employer doesn’t reciprocate: Six in 10 Millennials say they’re open to new job opportunities.

Development Opportunities

Organizations can demonstrate their loyalty by investing in employee development and growth, proving training resources as well as mentorship, guidance on goal-setting and problem-solving, and a clearly-defined path for advancement within the company.

After all, the “opportunity to learn and grow” was the number one factor that Millennials look for when job searching, according to a survey of 1,700 U.S. workers. Another survey found that “opportunities for advancement and mentorship” was the second-highest priority for Millennials when considering a job, after compensation.

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A Strong Employer Brand

Prospective Millennial hires will interact with a brand numerous times before/during the application process. 40% of Millennials surveyed said that a brand’s market reputation has the most influence on their impression of a prospective employer. Millennials want to work for companies with a good reputation—one that offers a good cultural fit for their personality, work style, and career goals. A company’s brand is the best indicator of how strong that fit will be.

Branding can also provide a strong indication of the following two categories:

A Positive Social Impact

Millennials want their work to matter. They want to feel as though they’re making a positive, lasting contribution on society and the world. More than three in four Millennials surveyed by Deloitte rated “citizenship” as important or very important. 76% believe business can be a force for positive social impact, yet only 18% of survey respondents said that their organizations currently prioritize corporate social responsibility efforts.

What’s more, corporate citizenship can actually boost engagement. Another Deloitte study found that 73% of employees who feel they work at a “purpose-driven” company are engaged, compared to only 23% of employees who feel their companies lack purpose.

And it’s not only employees that care about social impact. Consumers care too. 87% of consumers surveyed said they would purchase a product because a company supports an issue they care about, and 76% would refuse to buy from a company that supports issues contrary to their beliefs.

Diversity & Inclusion

Nearly half of Millennials actively look for diversity and inclusion programs when considering a prospective employer. Diversity can include age, gender, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, physical ability, and socio-economic status. Again, younger employees want to work for a company that shares their values and commitment to social responsibility.

A Deloitte inclusion study found that Millennials “are unique in viewing cognitive diversity as essential for an inclusive culture that supports engagement, empowerment, and authenticity. They also value inclusion not as an abstract ideal that checks a box and makes everyone feel good, but as a critical tool that enables business competitiveness and growth.” Inclusion means forming connections between people of different backgrounds and perspectives, building teams in which everyone has an equal voice, and using that diversity of experience “to make a stronger business impact.”

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Millennials want to see these values reflected in a prospective employer’s core values and processes.