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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

How to hire the next generation of leaders

Smart succession planning is a necessary business strategy that starts with hiring the right people.

How to hire the next generation of leaders
[Photo Source: Yevhenii/Adobe Stock]
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Millennials already make up a majority of the workforce—and Gen Z is hot on their heels. Your workforce will soon be comprised mostly of members of these generations, if it isn’t already. Are you prepared?

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NEW GRADUATES, NEW RECRUITMENT OPPORTUNITIES

Thousands of recent graduates are now in the job market. But how do you decide who is worth hiring—and grooming for leadership one day? How do you attract the smartest, hardest-working people to join your team? The answer starts with understanding the expectations and values of younger workers. You can use this knowledge to improve your employer branding and create a more attention-grabbing, candidate-friendly experience for the next generation of leaders.

WHAT DO YOUNG PEOPLE VALUE IN AN EMPLOYER?

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Hiring great people is a matter of tapping into what’s most important to them. After all, millennials and Gen Z don’t necessarily want the same thing from their careers as baby boomers did. They want (and need) money, of course. And job security is as important now as it’s ever been. But while those factors remain stable, new considerations that influence career choices have also been introduced.

Things younger generations value include:

• Flexibility: Millennials and Gen Z crave greater work/life balance, which often leads to better mental health. About one-third of Gen Z demands a say over their work schedule, and they won’t tolerate being denied vacation requests or being forced to work when they don’t want to.

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• Individuality and freedom of expression: Younger people tend to value individual expression and avoid labels. They experiment with different ways of finding—and being—their authentic selves, then try to highlight what makes them unique.

• Social causes and equality: Gen Y and Gen Z want to work somewhere they have a purpose and can contribute to the greater good of society. Moreover, they want an employer that prioritizes social and environmental issues and takes a stand against injustice—at work and in the world at large.

• Work processes that work anywhere: Gen Z don’t know a world without the internet, social media, and smartphones. Millennials grew up with technology, adapting to new tech as it was developed. Since both generations are so well-versed in technology, they expect job applications to be mobile- and user-friendly, and for work processes to support a work-from-anywhere lifestyle.

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Now that we know what younger workers tend to look for in their chosen employer, here are some tips to align your hiring process with the next generation’s expectations.

MARKET YOURSELF AS AN EMPLOYER OF CHOICE WITH VALUE-BASED RECRUITMENT

As part of your employer branding and recruitment strategy, make sure to mention what your organization cares about beyond profit.

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Are you doing any work to support your community and improve the world? Do you prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion, and make every effort to minimize hiring bias? What new corporate social responsibility initiatives might you roll out so that current and prospective employees feel like they’re contributing to something bigger?

ENCOURAGE CANDIDATES TO SHOWCASE THEIR PERSONALITY

Since individuality is important to Gen Y and Gen Z, allow applicants to share more of their personality than they can fit on a one-dimensional piece of paper. Through video interviews, candidates can show what makes them unique. Even small things (like what’s in the background of a video interview) are indicators of an applicant’s personality.

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CREATE APPLICANT-FRIENDLY, MOBILE-FIRST HIRING PROCESSES

Younger generations crave flexibility and freedom. These elements need to be baked into your hiring process, too. Simplify your job application by minimizing unnecessary steps—especially those that are redundant (e.g., asking applicants to upload a resume and then manually enter their education and experience into an online form). This repels top talent, who know the value of their time.

You might also want to consider mobile recruitment strategies such as permission-based texting. Keep candidates informed about next steps in the hiring process with SMS messages so that applicants can get at-their-fingertips updates. Connect with candidates where they already are.

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RECRUITING AND RETAINING UP-AND-COMING TALENT

Smart succession planning is a necessary business strategy that starts with hiring the right people. As recent graduates hit the workforce and millennials secure more managerial roles, employers need to rethink how to attract up-and-coming talent while still retaining high-performers. The next generation of leaders is already here—and you want them on your team.


CEO and Strategic Recruitment Advisor at VidCruiter, the new standard for worldwide online hiring.