Millennial Challenge: The art of attracting, recruiting and retaining future talent

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As part of Fundraising Week, Third Sector Jobs, in association with People Management Jobs and Drum Resourcing, hosted The Millennial Challenge - an exclusive event for HR professionals and hiring managers - to address their challenges around hiring and retaining millennials.

More than 20 delegates attended the event on 22 May, which took place at RSA House, London, with representation from top charities including Anthony Nolan, British Heart Foundation, Prostate Cancer UK and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.

Key speakers included Armen Lloyd, owner at Drum Resourcing, Paul Nott, principal consultant at NFP Consulting, and Peter Reeve, head of HR at the Motor Neurone Disease Association & chair of the Charity HR Network.

SpeakersFrom left: Armen Lloyd, Paul Nott and Peter Reeve

“We’re not getting any younger”

Peter Reeve set the tone of the session with his introductory statement:“We’re not getting any younger” - prompting delegates to acknowledge the need to attract the next generation of fundraising professionals. 

Having originally been reluctant to move into the third sector himself, perceiving it as somewhere people with good careers “go to die”, Reeve soon realised it was a fantastic career choice as well as a chance to make a difference. 

He was however put off by the lengthy application form and believes there is still much work to be done to attract young people to charities. The rest of the session explored a range of possible ways to address this challenge.

Science of candidate attraction

The science of candidate attraction

Armen Lloyd introduced ‘the science of candidate attraction’, which essentially involves exploring the multiple digital routes to attracting the right fundraising talent, from behavioural targeting to programmatic advertising. 

In order to reach a wider candidate pool, Lloyd urged HR professionals to utilise a range of tools including CV databases, programmatic targeting, social media and fixed fee sourcing. In addition, Drum Resourcing has recently created a recruitment tool called a ‘career advertising network post’ that uses behavioural targeting software to put relevant jobs in front of people as they’re surfing the web - whether they be on YouTube, a holiday site or any other website. 

Lloyd went on to emphasise the importance of using the latest digital technology to get your jobs in front of the non job-seeking audience, as these are more likely to be the high quality professionals you want to attract.

He also encouraged delegates to use the services of a recruitment advertising agency who can negotiate the best rates to get your job advertisement in front of millennials.

anatomy of social media job ad

Lloyd shared these free quick wins to increase the chances of candidates seeing your job advertisement:

  • Keywords: Mention the job title throughout the job advertisement so that it’s more likely to be found when people are searching for that role
  • Think like a candidate: If it’s an administrator role you’re recruiting for, say so. Don’t give it a long and obscure job title that candidates wouldn’t think of searching for
  • Monitor trends: The terms people search for and click on can change, so try to keep abreast of the latest trends. For example, ‘for more information’ is currently the most persuasive call to action with the highest click-through rate, rather than ‘click here’ or ‘apply now’
  • Spell check: Make sure you have spell checked your job copy and definitely don’t mis-spell a job title otherwise it won’t be picked up in online searches
  • Postcode: Including a postcode on your job advertisement can increase applications by 10%-15%. If you don’t include one you won’t be seen to be as relevant as the job ads that do
  • Timing: Find out the best times to post your job advertisement. According to Drum Resourcing traffic is 19% higher on average on Mondays and Tuesdays. This can vary across job boards so be sure to ask

Create visual content

In order to get your message to top talent, Lloyd advises using a variety of content formats, with video followed by still pictures being the most effective. “Share positive images about your charity on social media and on your career site”, said Lloyd. “You can create simple low cost videos on an iPhone showing what your workplace looks like, and it needn’t be too polished - in fact, the less professional it looks, the more genuine it comes across”, he added.

Paul Nott

An attractive sector in which to work?

Paul Nott led the next part of the event challenging how attractive the sector is for millennials - the young people who will be leading the next generation of fundraisers. 

“Flexibility is the magic bullet to attracting and retaining millennials”, said Nott, and he highlighted many benefits of offering your employees flexible working options including:

  • Your money goes a long way: Any investment you make into flexible working options will pay off with increased staff retention
  • Staff loyalty: Staff are more likely to stay longer if they feel trusted and are enabled to work in a flexible way. If you offer this to everyone, before they have a need for it, then they’re more likely to return after maternity or paternity leave, for example
  • Save on office costs: Some charities operate hot desking for most of the week plus two days working from home, which has helped them save on operational costs
  • Save on recruitment costs: By offering home working or part-time as an option, for example, you will limit the number of job ads that will appeal to those looking specifically for that, so you’re more likely to capture their attention and ultimately spend less time and resource on recruitment

Job spec

Job specifications - a new approach

Nott advocated a new approach to presenting your job specifications. “It’s often the fear of the unknown that puts people off applying for a job, especially if they’re happy in their current role”, he commented.

Rather than merely stating the job title, salary and a long list of generic responsibilities, Nott suggested bringing your organisation to life with some narrative about the charity and the difference it makes, pictures of the team, a video of the office, specific projects the role relates to and only truly essential criteria. 

Nott added: “Don’t use application forms - many don’t have the time or inclination to fill these out and you could lose out on valuable talent if you make these mandatory”.

Create a good first impression

“The offer letter is where things can go horribly wrong”, warns Nott. “It’s often a different story to the interview”. He referred to an example of a bad offer letter which typically arrives days or weeks after the interview and in many cases is much colder in tone than the interview as the purpose is often to get all the facts and terms and conditions in. 

“This is a vital time to ensure you engage them, not put them off”, asserts Nott. He recommends taking a friendlier approach, including details to make them feel welcome, such as who their buddy will be on day one and a proof copy of their business card so they can visualise themselves in the role. “These will make them less frightened to resign from their current role”, he added.

Once your new recruits have joined, that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop making a good impression. Their first day is one of the most crucial if you want them to return the next day. Ahead of their first day, little things like telling them who will lead their induction, whether they will have a desk and who else knows they’re coming, will help make them feel welcome.

Retain valuable talent

“Who cares about recruitment if you can keep your best staff”, says Nott. He offers some tips to help you retain top talent:

  • Reward success: Duvet days, vouchers, an additional day’s leave and experience days are good alternatives to the traditional ‘bonus’
  • Career planning: Make sure you have regular career discussions with employees to help them progress in their careers
  • Connect to the cause: For example, if a fundraiser brings in £10,000, tell them what that equates to in terms of how it’s made a difference to someone’s life 

With Brexit looming, it will be even more important to work smarter to attract new talent who might otherwise be tempted to stay put due to the uncertainty that lies ahead. At the same time, your best staff could still be poached by your competitors so you need to carefully consider what you will do to keep them.

Here are some practical tips from the session to maximise your chances of attracting and retaining millennials:

  1. If you’re doing well - tell everyone: Nott suggests anything from getting staff to post their positive work experiences on social media to spreading the word face to face about what a great place your charity is to work
  2. Don’t be too specific about your essential requirements: Lloyd says this makes many people deselect themselves from applying 
  3. Offer flexible working options: You can stand out from other charities if you offer this staff benefit. It will help you attract and retain loyal staff
  4. Don’t rely on the cause to get people through the door: You could have the greatest cause in the world but if you don’t offer a great place to work you will struggle to attract and retain millennials
  5. Don’t delay on making an offer: If you’ve found the right candidate, don’t leave them waiting. They may go elsewhere
  6. Spell out the induction process: Lloyd suggests telling new recruits what they will be doing each week when they first join and what skills they will learn - this will get a big tick from their parents who will be reassured their investment in their education has been worth it
  7. Graduate programmes: It doesn’t have to be a formal one, but graduate programmes attract a lot of interest, so if you have a great induction process for graduates then do advertise this
  8. Monetise your benefits: Do you offer free pizza on Fridays? A day off on birthdays? Small things like this can make a positive difference to your bottom line, help position you as a top employer and retain top talent. Work out how much such benefits equate to and let staff know so they can appreciate the investment
  9. Offer bonuses: The idea that charities can’t offer bonuses is a myth. The Motor Neurone Disease Association has been running a bonus scheme for the last two years and it’s been working well
  10. Thank staff promptly: Work out how much each fundraiser brings in each day and equate it to how the money makes a difference (for example - clean water for a family for a year) and put a note on their desk to remind them of this
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