Millennials and Executive Search – why should we care?


In recent years, a great number of studies have been conducted around intergenerational differences, with an emphasis on millennials or generation Y who are now playing key roles in today’s economy. Trying to find out who millennials are and what drives them, has become a priority for companies from multiple points of view not least because they represent a large mass of consumers and form 51% of today’s workforce.

workplace-1245776_1920Born after the 1980s, researchers have established that millennials are different from their predecessors. They have witnessed world digitalization, the rise of terrorism and of civil unrest, the financial crisis and political polarization which utterly influenced their beliefs and expectations.

As a workforce, millennials are technologically savvy, highly educated and very mobile. They appreciate mentorship, personal development opportunities, flexible working schedules and a collaborative environment.

From an executive search perspective, these young professionals do need our attention as they are tomorrow’s leaders. At the WESC Congress this year, Gary Preston highlighted that in 10 years’ time millennials will represent a whopping 75% of the global workforce. In the search profession, we need to ensure that we have them on our radar now.

Presently they may be at an early stage in their career and considered too junior to take on key management positions, but it is self-evident that this pool of candidates offers great potential to “step up” into leadership roles. Candidates from this generation appreciate growth opportunities and the chance to prove their acquired skills. Deloitte indicated exactly this in their latest survey on millennials – emphasizing that their most important drivers when evaluating job opportunities is the ability to progress and take on leadership roles. Accordingly, this needs to be supported by the company via learning opportunities and constant feedback on performance; because millennials need to feel that their work matters or they will quickly look for something else.

In conclusion, it is imperative that an organizations talent acquisition strategy at the senior level incorporate millennials in their succession planning, in order to maintain their market position and grow in the future.