How to Hire a Millennial: Tips for GenX’ers and Other Bewildered Souls


(Spoiler alert for the overly sensitive: This was published on April 1st.)

In reality, probably far, far too much has been written lately about the generation that we here in the US of A not-so-fondly refer to as “Millennials.”

In particular, the theme of  Oh Those Darned Millennials in the Workplace has been one that’s clearly trended in those stodgy publications that only the “old” people read, such as .

But to be fair, Millennials truly are more than just a generation of 20-somethings who believe that drum circles, ride sharing, and kale chips can save the planet from its own self-destruction — they’re actually the first generation ever to have completely grown up with the Information Superhighway AND the self-esteem movement started by those wacky ex-hippie Baby Boomers, aka the Me Generation.

And that is truly a heady combination.

For the children of those immediate-gratification-seeking-Woodstock-going-peace-loving hippie Me-generation parents require very special care and handling in workplace situations, but especially during the critical hiring process.

For we Gen X’ers who have been faced with hiring Millennials for our respective workplaces, this combination can be quite daunting.

We nostalgic GenX simpletons still recall a time when one used something called a library to do term paper research with paper books (rather than just buying the paper off the internet), which I believe is the modern equivalent of having had to take covered wagons to school in a blizzard while barefoot or something my dad rattled on about whenever I asked him for money to buy designer jeans in high school.

But again, but my old-person brain digresses. How to hire a Millennial, that’s the theme here.

Below you will find a simple but handy list of Millennial Hiring Tips that will make your hiring process go as smoothly as any not-real-butter product they made us eat in the ‘80s as part of school lunch. Good luck, bae!

I realize that this one may be a difficult one to get your independent adult brain around, given that your parents probably cruelly forced you to attend your first high school job “interview” at McDonald’s ALL BY YOURSELF.

But this generation was raised differently, people.

For example: Robert Downey Jr. is now Iron Man, not a strung out teen from a Bret Easton Ellis novel.

And by “differently”, I mean that they’ve allowed (tolerated? been held captive by?) their parents to be overly involved in every aspect of their young lives, through college and now on the job market, and quite possibly into their 30s and 40s.  (Why pull the warm, comfy, controlling helicopter parent plug out ever?) 

So just do your best to be polite when Parker’s mom answers any job interview question you pose to him.

And of course, you can assume all job references for the candidate will be provided by family members. (No one knows Parker and Petal better than their Nana!!)

Tip #2: Emphasize a flexible working environment.

In the past, and even to this day, many entry-level jobs had such brutally inflexible requirements as “start times” and “8-hour days.”

These jobs may even have applied severe penalties to those employees who failed to show up by the start time and / or to remain in the job to complete the 8-hour days.

GenX’ers —Be smart here.

Know that this practice of requiring your Millennial employee to actually be in the office by a specific time and to remain there for a specific period is considered both barbaric and old-school and also may curtail their freedom to save the world one Etsy project at a time.

And if you can’t do away with such job requirements altogether, for example, if you’re running a business that has posted public business hours and takes people in for such antiquated things as scheduled appointments, just refrain from mentioning such harsh workplace conditions during the interview.  

You don’t want to scare any great candidates away too soon, so tread carefully with any actual “job requirements.”

And be flexible. If they want to bring their pet llama to work, let them. It’s probably certified as a service animal anyway.

Tip #3:  Play up your office snacks, toys, and other “perks.”

While your crusty old Greatest Generation parents may have told you that it was YOUR task in a job interview to convince an employer of YOUR VALUE to THEM, know that that is simply not the case with Millennials.

In fact, not only is the onus on YOU as the employer to convince the Millennial job candidate that YOU and worthy of THEM as an employee, it’s equally important to rosey-up that picture by mentioning all the great perks that you offer them as part of the employment package.

And I’m not talking about the old stalwarts like health insurance and paid vacation (know that Mom will ask about those on Petal and Parker’s behalves).

You really need to play up the other awesome-sauce benefits you offer – an onsite macrobiotic vegan chef, a certified Kundalini yogi complete with sitar band, an office bowling alley made of recycled materials — you just offer whatever you can to be competitive.  

Oh, and bean bag chairs and a ping-pong table are SOOO early ‘Oughts, btw. Just sayin’.

Tip #4: Know the hip-ster lingo. 

If you really want to convince your Millennial candidate that your company is the one that’s worthy of their energy and yet-as-proven talents, you have to demonstrate that you are up on the current trends.

So use the right lingo. I realize you  (because it is and the Urban Dictionary confirms it), but it also is a very handy term of endearment used by the youthful ones whose grammar education hailed from from Hooked on Phonics.

You need to be WAY woke, bae.

It’s amazeballs to just do you in this world.

Which is just another extremely-grammatically-incorrect way to say you need to be more awake and aware of what’s happening in the world. (But not awake and aware of what’s happening in the musty grammar textbooks, apparently.)

Tip #5:  Recognize that their presence IS their contribution. 

If there was a single most important tip on this already-super-helpful list, it’s this last one.

Millennials add value to an organization just by being there.

No, really. Stop laughing. It’s totes true!

By choosing you and your company, they have instantly increased your product appeal, your business efficiency, your profit margins, and your viability in the market.

Because if there’s one thing that their generation learned from their Self-Esteem-Movement-driven parents, it was that EVERYONE wins by just showing up.

Skills and talents are completely overrated; it only takes presence to get a trophy or a gold star.

And everyone’s opinion should count. No matter how half-baked and ill-informed it is, you should spend your business days listening to every mumbled lingo-laden gem that your Millennial will offer. (Because that’s what Mom and Dad have always done for Parker and Petal. And you are now part of the parenting ecosystem.)

I truly hope this little checklist will ease any stress and strife you’ve had in hiring Millennials. And I also hope you realize that the above has probably been said about every generation’s 20-somethings since the dawn of….well, 20-somethings.

Archaeologists have even found early cave drawings that indicate the older generations’ frustration and bewilderment about what the kids were doing.


Oh, and happy April Fool’s Day! 

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