Not all know it, but the largest segment of the US workforce, according to Pew Research, is now millennials. Many of these 18- to 34-year-olds have over a decade of experience under their belts and occupy, or are on the verge of landing, leadership positions in varied industries. Others are founding companies and creating entirely new fields. From the lesser-known, such as Goldman Sachs’ Seda Arca, a vice president at 28, to household names like 26-year-old Evan Spiegel, co-founder and CEO of Snapchat, millennials are climbing the ranks and breaking new ground in business. And the staffing industry is no exception; the impressive first-annual Staffing Industry Analysts Millennials in Staffing list is evidence enough. Employers looking to tap into all this generation has to offer need to recognize that millennials want their due. Jim Lanzalotto, senior vice president of staffing and healthcare sales for Monster Worldwide, discusses strategies and tools that best capture and engage this talent pool.

Q: Who are millennials?

A: Millennials are the generation whose members age 18 to 34 right now. There are approximately 92 million people in that age group in the United States, and by 2020 they will make up nearly 50% of the workforce, according to a study from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC.

92-millionQ: What kind of job seekers and employees do you perceive them to be? What are the top three words you would use to describe them?

A: I would describe millennials as creative, collaborative and flexible. They are a very focused segment of the workforce, and they want their life and their work to have personal purpose. Eighty-three percent of millennial workers want to go into a job where their creativity is valued and 88% of them want to be in a collaborative environment vs. an environment that’s cutthroat and competitive. Additionally, 81% of millennials would like to have some degree of flexibility in their schedule, according to MTV’s “No Collar Workers” study.

Q: How do you feel the recruiting and hiring game has changed as millennials have become a larger segment of the workforce? What kinds of positions have been easier or more difficult to fill?

A: The easiest positions to fill are those that meet this generation’s need for creativity, collaboration and flexibility. The old ways of sourcing are not going to work. You need to make sure you take a mobile-native approach to outreach. This is the first generation ever that was raised on digital and mobile. The oldest of them, who are now 34 years old, were growing up at the dawn of the Internet age in 1994. Everybody who came after them is a digital native. According to social-influence marketing platform Crowdtap, the average millennial spends 5.4 hours per day on social media, and they spend 18 hours per day consuming media, often on multiple devices at one time. Millennials check their smartphones 43 times per day.

Q: What do you see as technology’s role in recruiting and engaging millennials? Are there any tools particularly conducive to recruiting millennials?

A: Millennials will not respond to the same recruiting methods that worked for previous generations. You need to look at more non-traditional strategies, like social media, enhancing your employer brand and SEO.

educationQ: In particular, what strategies do you think staffing firms should employ to better serve clients looking to hire millennial workers? What advice should they provide to their clients about filling both entry and high-level positions?

A: As more boomers retire, staffing companies will need more millennials — and soon Gen Z — to fill in the gaps. To build a pipeline for your customers,  you need to understand the uniqueness of this market segment. If you don’t, you’re going to miss the needs of both candidates and managers. Most importantly, stay on top of the research and trends related to your audience. Boomers stayed at one company for a long time, but this audience is very different. Their needs are ever changing. Become a trusted advisor for your clients, help make them smart about who they’re hiring and how.

Q: What is the state of the millennial staffing workforce? Is staffing a popular industry for this group to join?

A: It is a very popular industry to join. Millennials like independent work, and they like flexible work times and places. Ninety-one percent of millennials expect to stay at a job for less than three years, according to Future Workplace, a consulting firm dedicated to reinventing the workplace. Staffing gives you the opportunity to choose the kind of work you’re going to do and generally affords the flexibility that millennials seek.

Q: What would be your one piece of advice to millennials looking to succeed in staffing? How do you recommend they navigate this landscape?

A: Find a job that will enable you to achieve your goals. If you feel as though you’re working for a company that’s invested in you and understands your needs, there’s a great chance you’ll stay. The Brookings Institute found that many millennials would rather make $40,000 at a job they love than $100,000 at a job they think is boring.

average-tenureQ: This year’s SIA Millennials in Staffing list is an impressive group of young professionals. What are some characteristics these individuals display that impress you and could serve as an example for other millennials in staffing?

A: Millennials crave success early in their careers, which is much different from other generations who expected to work their way through the ranks toward success. I’ve seen that millennials take those expectations and throw them out the window — busting outside the box to create or modify processes or programs that get to the end result faster.

Q: How can employers look to millennials as partners in developing strategies for attracting and engaging Gen Z employees as they start entering the workforce?

A: We tend to focus on people who are working at professional jobs after college, but there are a lot of industries, such as retail, where people start working when they turn 16. Gen Z is fast approaching the workforce. According to the Monster Multi-Generational Study, 77% of Gen Z are students, but they are already thinking about their careers. The next generation will have some of the same perspective about work as millennials, but also its own unique qualities. For instance, 76% of Gen Z believe they are the owners of their careers and will drive their own professional advancement, compared to 64% of millennials, according to our study. One generation prepares for the next and the millennials will do their part. Helping employers understand the changing world of employment is important. Having a work environment where different viewpoints are valued will be essential. z