HR can benefit from utilizing marketing techniques to recruit, engage and retain future talent.

And 50% of that future talent by 2020 will be Millennials or Generation Y. Like any other generation, they have specific and unique traits that need to be understood.

When marketers plan marketing campaigns one of the first steps they take is to develop Marketing Personas – semi-fictional representations of the ideal target they want to reach. This helps to target specific campaigns, content and channels to reach their prospective audiences. This also helps to understand behaviors as well as underlying goals and motivations, which can prove invaluable in managing and motivating employees.

If we were to define the Millennial persona, how would it look?

Beyond simple demographics such as age, education, and income, here are some interesting characteristics:

  • Connected
  • Collaborative and team oriented
  • Multi-tasking
  • Reliant on texting, most sleep with their phones beside their beds
  • Confidence bordering on entitlement
  • Caring and community oriented
  • Have confidence to stand up for what they believe
  • Have self-assurance, technology and network to voice their opinions
  • Are willing to share information about brand preferences online
  • Expect close relationships and frequent feedback from their managers
  • View managers as coaches or mentors

Thinking of this generation from this marketing perspective can help to not only target recruiting campaigns and messages but also the culture that they seek and how to manage them when they arrive!


The Internet has completely revolutionized how consumers search for, find, buy from and interact with brands and their products and services.

In response, marketing has adopted a completely new way of marketing – Inbound Marketing. Inbound marketing is an automated sales and marketing process that

  • Focuses on getting found online by offering valuable free content in the places where prospects are searching for information
  • Creates brand awareness by demonstrating thought leadership and expertise
  • Builds relationships with prospects to earn their trust
  • Encourages prospects to opt in/give permission to be marketed to in exchange for more valuable content
  • Nurtures leads through the sales and marketing process with the ultimate goal of converting to purchase

The process uses the concept of a sales and marketing “funnel” that assumes a prospect takes a unique journey toward a brand seeking information along the way.


The Internet has also completely revolutionized how consumers search for and seek employment.

  • Talent now shops for employers like they shop for consumer goods doing research online
  • 30% of all Google searches – 30M per month – are employment related
  • Millennials in particular rely on word of mouth, referrals, recommendations and their social networks to find employment

Yet the Recruiting function has not adapted and still relies for the most part on posting jobs on job boards and career sites and cold calling/emailing potential candidates.

HR must borrow from the marketing playbook and deploy Inbound Marketing techniques in their recruiting efforts to compete for talent.

Just like consumers, prospective employees take unique journeys to the employer brand and along the way they look for good, relevant content that educates, informs and provides value.

86% of employees are passive job seekers looking for work outside of their current job. They are not likely to engage directly and apply on a job board, but are doing research and in the process are willing to consume content and follow the brands that they are interested in on social media.


Recruiters who use modern marketing techniques for Candidate Relationship Marketing can establish brand awareness and begin to engage, build relationships and nurture a strong pipeline of future talent.



According to a Deloitte survey, Millennials (also called Generation Y, the exact year span is debatable, but on average born between 1980 and 1992) will represent 50% of the workforce in 2020, and up to 75% in 2025.

The most consistent trait of this generation is that they are technically savvy and have grown up on digital devices in a wired, connected world. When they look for employment, they do not rely on traditional channels, they seek advice and rely on referrals from people they are connected to for everything, including potential employers. In fact, 73% of Millennials found their last job through their social network.

When choosing an employer, compensation matters but it’s not the only priority. 47% of Millennials say a prospective employer’s online reputation matters as much as the job being offered. Company culture and reputation are the second most important factor when accepting job. These digital natives do their research and believe their peers and what they learn online – long before they ever consider a potential employer.

There is a coined phrase related to Millennials called the “Hummingbird” effect – they will sample different employers and job hop if they feel their employer is not reputable or relevant – and only 1 in 5 will stay if they feel there is limited opportunity for growth.

A full 25% of Millennials think that working at a job for as little as 7 months shows that they are a loyal employee – contrast that to Boomers who feel they’d have to work somewhere for more than 5 years to be considered loyal.

Why should HR care?

  • Companies need to have a strong Employer Brand. One that goes beyond foos ball tables and beer on Fridays, one that clearly articulates why it’s a great place to work with a unique culture and opportunities for advancement.
  • Recruiters need to think like marketers and deploy Recruitment Marketing and social media tactics to understand where their prospects are online, what they care about and join the conversation.
  • HR must implement creative digital programs for onboarding and retention to keep employees engaged from day one. Employee Advocacy programs – enabling employees to act as ambassadors of the company – not only significantly increase retention and engagement, but leverage employee personal networks to attract both future talent and future customers.