Login / Sign up

How to Lead Millennials in Recruitment: Part 2

February 16th, 2017 by James Jennings

This is part 2 of a series based on my recent discussions with millennial recruiters. As an ex-recruiter running a business that has a particularly big interest in seeing the recruitment industry succeed, I wanted to understand what was happening to cause the significantly high levels of staff turnover amongst millennials. Through the work I’m doing now I’ve had the opportunity to speak with many millennials in the industry and I curated these blogs based on their feedback.

In part 1, I talked about communication and creating an organisation driven by purpose. If you haven’t read part one, you can read it here. Now for part two.

Part 2


Millennials know where the world is going, steer the ship or we’ll jump to a new one

If you took my recommendation and watched Sinek’s How Great Leaders Inspire Action, think back to the section where Sinek talks about those who stood in line for 6 hours to get the latest iPhone. “They did it for themselves. It’s because of what they believed about the world and how they wanted everybody to see them. They were first.”

Millennials crave innovation. We’ve grown up in a world that is constantly changing. We’re bombarded by new apps and technology. We’re used to new things and we like it. We embrace it.

Now I could spend forever talking about how new technology can improve the way agencies operate from a process perspective, but that’s for another post. There’s an added, and very positive, side effect to adopting new technology. Your millennial workforce will see your business as a leader in the market. An innovator, an early adopter, as, dare I say it…. cool!

That doesn’t mean you should go out and adopt every piece of new technology on the market, of course. It’s not even just about technology.

It’s about being prepared to change the way you operate to make your business more effective, often using a tool or method that’s not tried and tested.

Being prepared to make a call when you don’t have all the evidence and the facts and figures to back up that it will work. That’s what true innovation is. It’s either a technology or process that hasn’t been tried before, therefore, obviously, we don’t have all the facts. But saying ‘I’m prepared to be a leader and implement this in the belief that it can make us a better business.’

I would recommend watching this short video by Jack Delosa. He articulates this frustration better then I can. “If you could point to tried and tested models to validate your thinking, what you’re envisaging is not innovative, it’s simply an improvement of what already is”.


“Inventing a better tomorrow begins with acknowledging that the future does not need to resemble the past”

Many of those that have been in recruitment since the late 90’s or early 00’s are now the leaders of our agencies. They’ve seen, lived and survived through the disruption of email, jobs boards and a stack of other changes. They love to tell stories about only having CV’s on paper, stored in files in the office and how they had to fax CV’s to clients or even hand deliver them. Yet many struggle to envisage what recruitment will look like 10 years from now. Do you think we’ll still be scouring a vastly outdated CRM or posting a job advert and waiting for a response?

In case you missed it, computer scientists recently created a robot with AI so sophisticated it could beat four of the world’s best poker players. Unlike chess, poker deals with imperfect information. The machine was able to ‘bluff’ some of the world’s best players.

As part of the start up community I’ve been exposed to many new businesses and the technologies they are creating. Let me assure you that there are many new technologies being created that will eventually have a profound impact on the way recruitment agencies operate.

Technology is coming and those who embrace it will be the ones that survive. Millennials know this and they gravitate to businesses who embrace technology and change.

Be prepared to be a leader, take risks and be truly innovative!


We Will Leave You

Now this is a big one. No matter how good your business is, no matter how well you treat us…we will leave.

We’re not interested in 10 year careers with one employer. Globalisation has opened us up to the world – we want to try new things and no matter how great a company is, we will always want to experience life outside of it.

I read an interesting article yesterday about Liz Wessel, CEO of WayUp. Prior to co-founding WayUp, she was an intern at Google and was eventually offered a permanent role. She told them she wanted the job, but that she would leave in two years to start a business and would only take it if they were OK with that. Instead of rescinding the offer, they gave her a list of alumni who have done exactly the same and were completely supportive.

So why all the fuss about working out how to make us stay if we’re going to leave anyway? Because the way we’re treated and the leadership we receive correlate with how long we’re prepared to stay, the impact we have in that time and what we communicate to our fellow millennials about your business when we leave.

There are many reasons why people leave businesses and you can’t stop everybody leaving. What you can do is make sure that your team are happy whilst they are with you and when they do leave, celebrate their contribution.

The experience of that exit process can have a profound impact on your talent brand. I know of far too many examples of recruiters going through a completely unnecessarily harsh exit process who say nothing but terrible things about their previous employers. These former employees will interact with your prospective employees, candidates and clients.

Treat your people well whilst they’re with you, develop them professionally and enable them to make an impact. Be gracious when they leave, celebrate the wins and most importantly – treat them with respect.

Part 3 of How to Lead Millennials in Recruitment will be released shortly.

About the Author: James is an ex-recruiter turned start-up founder passionate about changing the industry for the better. He actively encourages participation and comments, both positive and negative, with a view to sparking the difficult conversations the industry needs to have. He recently co-founded Sourcr (www.sourcr.com), an online recruitment marketplace to connect Employers with Australia’s best Recruiters. His vision is to streamline the process of outsourcing recruitment to make it faster, fairer and more effective for all!