Millennials Are Obsessed with Branding. Use It to Your Advantage.

Guest: Rachel Bitte Benefits, Brand Ambassadors, Business Development, Candidate Pool, Culture, Engagement and Satisfaction, Generations, HR & Marketing, Passive Candidates, Personal Brand, Rachel Bitte, Recruitment Marketing, Social Media and Talent, Vacation

It’s no secret that millennial candidates care about much more than just collecting a bigger paycheck when looking for a new gig. These young professionals (who now make up the largest segment of the U.S. workforce) crave a sense of purpose in their work, both in their day-to-day job and the causes their employers support, even more than past generations. In fact, one-third of millennials say they’re ready to take a 10% pay cut in order to pursue work they’re more passionate about.

From joining the hip company to having an impressive title to share on social media, this generation cares about their own personal brand just as much as the brands they follow. That means you can’t expect to compete on salary and benefits alone, but the good news is that you don’t have to. Here are some hacks to help you take advantage of millennials’ brand obsession so that you can gain a deeper talent pool of high-quality candidates.

Build a strong employer brand, and market the heck out of it

Millennials approach job hunting with the same shrewdness as online shopping, except instead of WireCutter they turn to Glassdoor. Nearly one-third of young workers today say they will preemptively reject a company with poor reviews, making employer branding more important than ever.

As millennials constantly search for a career that better aligns with their life goals, one strategy that’s resonating is connecting the mission statement or broader impact of your organization to your employer brand. If you recruit for a company with a consumer product, you should put that social impact on steroids when it comes to recruitment marketing. Employees who use and believe in the product can become authentic brand ambassadors who share positive experiences both online and in-person.

Business-to-business companies often have a trickier time showing off their impact, but more are figuring out the secret formula. What they are doing is showcasing customers and the “secondhand” impact of their solution or service, for example, how IBM makes technology that other companies use to help build new products and services. Connecting your company to a greater cause will help attract employees who want to feel a sense of purpose in their work.

Reach them where they hang-out

Once you figure out your brand strategy, you need a way to get the message out. Having a well-designed careers page is table stakes, especially when so many millennials spend the majority of their time perusing social media.

Whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or even Reddit, if your ideal candidates hang-out there, then so should you. Speak their language and leverage hashtags, keywords, etc. to put yourself in front of the audiences that will care the most about your brand mission. Source photos and videos from employees for your platforms and recognize their business achievements, highlight industry awards, and showcase cool events to give job seekers a sense of your company culture and what it’s actually like to work there.

If you’re not broadcasting across channels to spread the word or participate in the right conversations, then you’re missing out on perhaps the biggest opportunity today to engage passive candidates (critical during this historically tight labor market).

Jazz up your titles

There is no question that millennials care much more about job titles than older generations. While the reasoning can differ from candidate to candidate, there’s usually one common thread: young workers care deeply about their own personal brand.

As the line between professional and personal lives continues to blur, millennials are more likely to define themselves by their work, and share what they do (and where they do it) online. Whether the audience is a friend or future employer, they want to shape the perceptions of those around them for status or better job opportunities down the road.

You can (and should) use this attraction to titles to your advantage. If you’re wavering between posting for a coordinator, associate or specialist versus a manager position, consider whether it makes sense to make the bump. Take stock with an employee survey to see how current workers feel about their title representation. You might find it’s time to reevaluate your title structure, which could have the added benefits of a recruiting boost and better retention.

Millennials are curious, innovative, collaborative and quick to adapt. What I love is that they’re not shy when it comes to being vocal or sticking to their convictions about the causes they care about.

That said, it’s going to take a lot more than buzzy perks like a snack bar or unlimited vacation to get them onboard. To attract (and retain) young workers, you need to give them a sense a purpose, make them feel valuable and impactful, and provide real opportunities for career growth. If you can get that message across, then maybe millennials will become obsessed with your brand too.