Why millennial job-hopping shouldn’t be a warning sign for recruiters

Elizabeth Onishuk | |

Millennials have a bad reputation as entitled job-hoppers. Hiring managers can’t get past resumes that read one and a half years here, two years there. Red flags go up.

Recruiters think: Lack of experience. Hard to sell. Pass.

CEOs think: Fickle. Entitled. Hard to retain.

You know what? I’m not convinced these stereotypes are true.

I recruited 18 people in the last two quarters at Workable. Most of them are millennials. And in the last five years of my talent acquisition and consulting career, some of the best candidates I’ve presented to CEOs had short work stints.

It’s an undeniable fact – millennials are notorious for switching jobs every few years. But I actually like that. I think it’s a good thing for businesses. Here’s why.

Millennials job-hop because:

  • They want to grow professionally;
  • and they can’t grow where they are.

This group of employees is not okay with staying static. And that’s a quality all thriving businesses should want on their teams. This growth mindset is what keeps companies competitive.

Why job-hopping makes millennials good hires

Recruiters and CEOs need to reframe their thinking around why someone leaves a role. If it’s not for causing bodily harm to someone else, or embezzling, it’s because they’re restless. If millennials want to keep developing their skills, and their company is not doing that for them, then why shouldn’t they leave?

Here’s why I think recruiting job-hopping millennials is good for business:

  • They’re adaptive. These hires adjust well to new environments, so they’re more likely to be on-boarded quickly. They are growth-minded, so they’ve got great potential to develop within any organization.
  • They’re disruptors. They challenge the status quo, and are at the forefront of changing workplaces for the better. They have a unique set of needs and advocate for new policies in the workplace (e.g. LGBTQ rights, remote work and workplace wellness.)
  • They’re risk-takers. It says a lot about a group of people who assume the risk of switching jobs every two years. Quite frankly, I would rather hire someone who takes that risk than someone who stays in a secure micromanaged role for seven years.
  • They’re social responsibility-focused. Millennials are much more apt to ask—and sometimes demand—that their employer give back to the local or greater global community in some way, even if their future employer is a for-profit tech company.

In my experience, hiring millennials can also create a mentorship culture, especially at companies with older, more tenured employees. Generations learn from each other and companies grow. There truly is strength and greater output in diverse workplaces.

How to hire and retain millennials

Hiring and retaining millennials involves thinking like them. Start with job descriptions. I see too many job ads that ask for too much. An arbitrary “X years of experience” prerequisite stands in the way of recruiting amazing, talented millennials from the start, since they probably won’t have the listed three years of experience in Y. I’d rather see a candidate speak to who they are and what they’ll do for a company.

You can also focus on building your employer brand. Your employer brand is your reputation as an employer. It’s your most powerful recruiting tool. And millennials have myriad ways of gleaning what your company’s candidate experience is like. You can’t attract the best candidates until you have a good reputation.

As a recruiter, I believe in my judgment skills. So persuasion is part of my job. When I’ve got a great candidate on my hands, and the powers that be need convincing, you better believe I’ll keep convincing them. So, don’t give up if you believe in someone’s abilities. With my millennial recruits who were tough sells in the past, the CEO has always come back to me and said “Wow.”

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Elizabeth Onishuk

Elizabeth Onishuk is the former Talent Acquisition Manager at Workable. Prior to joining Workable, Elizabeth ran her own full service human resources consulting practice. She's recruited fast and slow, globally and locally and has worked in a range of industries. For more on Elizabeth, check out her LinkedIn profile.

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