Bringing in the Young Guns? Some Tips on the Twenty-Somethings

So much of the news concerning the today’s workplace surrounds the different generations currently making up the work force. The general sentiment is: the baby boomers are moving into retirement and Generation X and Generation Y have to fill in for this outrageously large group of workers. Millennials in particular are hitting the scene with a different work ethic, new life goals, and different perceptions on the working world.

Because companies are lowering the mean age of their employees with these young hires, the scramble is on to find the most qualified, educated, and teachable “twenty-somethings.” Maybe for some managers, all of the millennials begin to look the same. They have the same expectations of their employer, similar goals for upward mobility, and the same tech-savvy skills that make your eyes spin. So how does a manager pick out the gems? Here are a few things to keep in mind with the twenty-somethings you’re welcoming into your business.

In his article on Relevant.com, writer Eric Tippen suggests that many twenty-somethings suffer from a lack of attention span. Thanks to our instantaneous culture, some young people find it difficult to settle down to a single task for a lengthy period of time. When going through the hiring process, watch for candidates who are able to sit still throughout the interview. Do they shift their weight constantly? Look around the room often? Look up and down at their hands or cross and uncross their arms frequently? Such body language could be a sign that they’re having difficulty staying tuned in.

Another side effect of our digital age is that many twenty-somethings are more acquainted with communication via the internet or their phones than any of form of communication. Even though they participate in normal human interaction – with parents, teachers, and friends – they are more skilled at emailing, texting, skyping, and tweeting. A valuable twenty-something employee will know how to remove themselves from their desk and their computer to engage colleagues face-to-face when a situation calls for it, and in some instances, do so simply because they can in lieu of sending yet another email.

Similar to the point above, the various forms of communication that allow twenty-somethings to type what they might typically speak has inevitably taken a toll on their phone skills, such as speaking on the phone with a customer or coworker. Can this individual speak well over the phone? Do they know the social norms surrounding a typical phone conversation, like how to begin one, and how to end one without being awkward?

The digitally-entrenched qualities of the newest work force offer both benefits and drawbacks to the work place. As a hiring manager or human resources professional, it will be up to you to spot overcompensation via technology for lack of average working and communication skills. The balance is difficult and the search can be long, but be assured that the right employee does exist, one who can stay focused, look you in the eye, and excel at more than having fast fingers. Your company will be stronger for taking the time to root them out.

Have you noticed a short attention span among your twenty-something applicants? Do you handle young gun candidates differently than candidates from other generations? Please share in the comments!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Emily Rachel Hildebrand