Got Millennials? How to Attract Top Talent—and Keep Them

January 10, 2017 — by Elise James-Decruise

This byline originally appeared on

Over the past few years, millennials have developed a negative reputation as the lazy, self-indulgent “me-me-me generatiom.” However, when you look at the facts, that picture couldn’t be further from the truth. It turns out the majority of millennials are actually workaholics with no plans to “job hop” who don’t even take their allotted vacation time.

Millennials have moved past Gen. X to become the largest generation in the American workforce. According to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, the number of millennials in the workforce – currently 53.5 million – is only expected to grow as millennials currently enrolled in college graduate and begin working. Companies need to take notice of this generation and understand what it takes to not only recruit the best talent in the group, but keep them happy.

Throughout all industries – from tech and finance to hospitality and fashion – the traditional offerings of money and stability will no longer cut it when trying to attract the top millennial employees. Instead, organizations need to offer transparency, culture, and flexibility. To recruit elite talent, the entire company needs to be involved – not just the HR team.

If you’re looking for ways to attract young talent to your organization, check out the below tips on drawing and keeping their attention:

1. Write a Compelling Job Description

Now that it’s easier than ever to post jobs and search for positions online, a generic job description is no longer enough. The description of any open position should reflect the company and the team.

If culture is important, that needs to be clearly included in the job description to ensure the right person is applying for the right job. If the post is vague, it makes the applicant question if the job is right for them – and it wastes the time of the company when employees are stuck interviewing someone who isn’t right for the role.

If you are not looking for a typical job candidate, you need to consider the qualities that would make an applicant successful in your company, on your team, and in this specific role; then write a description based on them.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Pivot People to Other Roles

Sometimes you interview a candidate who blows you away – but it turns out they aren’t the right fit for the specific position to which they applied. Rather than not hiring this impressive talent, try pivoting them to another team internally.

As much as you want the right person for the right role, sometimes you need to take a step back and recognize it’s important to have the top talent in your company in general. If you go this route, patience will be necessary as it can take several months to find the right fit. If you have the flexibility to pivot, millennial candidates will be excited by the opportunity to learn through experience until you ultimately find the perfect placement, and your company will benefit from obtaining a stellar employee.

3. Get Creative With Your Company Perks

Company perks that make the difference in retaining employees go far beyond a happy hour on Fridays or free meals. Millennials don’t expect excessive perks that aren’t sustainable for most companies, but they do want something tailored to them and their passions. Focus on creating the right perks for your ideal workforce.

If you find out what drives your applicants, you can alter the discussion around those specific perks. Do they have a family at home? Offer a flexible work schedule. Fitness buff? Provide free classes or allow them time to catch a midday workout when they don’t have meetings. Even internal professional development training can be valuable to someone just getting started in their career and help convince millennials to join – and stay at – your company.

By taking these steps, you can make your business much more attractive to millennial applicants, which should prove very beneficial to your organization: Millennials will represent nearly 75 percent of the workforce by 2030.

Elise James-Decruise

Elise oversees internal and external training initiatives, certification, enterprise education and global program development at MediaMath through the New Marketing Institute (NMI) where she leads a global team of 29, touching 16 different countries. She joined MediaMath in January of 2012, bringing with her 15 years of experience managing, facilitating and building targeted training programs from the ground up. She launched NMI shortly thereafter – in Q2 of 2012. In the 4 years since launch, she’s led the charge in building a team of training professionals who share in her passion for educating and empowering the new generation of marketing professionals. Successfully transitioning from the financial sector as a global trainer at Thomson Financial (Thomson Reuters), Elise started out her digital marketing career at Right Media (acquired by Yahoo) where she transformed their internal training program and founded Right Media University for the Sales, Operations and Technical Support Teams. By ensuring training curriculum aligned with the overall strategy she was able to directly impact company culture by driving individual, team and organizational performance. Elise continued her career at within the e-commerce division, facilitating and developing curriculum for the New York employees focusing on merchant, marketing, platform and leadership skill development across the organization. By identifying department specific and business needs Elise was able to directly contribute to the corporate vision, ensuring high performance. Elise maintains a strong presence on the board of prominent industry and L&D organizations such as the IAB and ATD. She holds a seat on the IAB Board and is also part of the IAB Digital Leadership Program, which helps foster growth for the next generation of digital marketing and advertising executives. She has also joined the Association for Talent Development (ATD) as a member of the ATD Forum Advisory Group, helping to shape forum activities through thought leadership and collaboration. Elise holds a B.A., in Communications, PR & Advertising along with a M.S., in Instructional Leadership and Business Communications from Robert Morris University. Elise resides in Bergen County New Jersey with her husband and two children. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends, going to concerts, playing basketball, watching sports, mentoring and providing career development coaching to former and current student-athletes who are making a transition into the corporate world.