Interviewing — and hiring — millennials

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Elizabeth Newman
Elizabeth Newman

There's a running joke at McKnight's about an interview I conducted with a millennial last year in which the candidate, on a Skype interview, wore a suit.

This was notable given how most Skype candidates had opted for a casual look. The candidate, who was about to graduate from college, was being considered for both our summer internship and staff writer position, although we expected to hire someone with more experience for the latter.

That changed after the Skype interview, and not just because of the suit. Spoiler alert: McKnight's hired staff writer extraordinaire Emily Mongan after another round of interviews, and she started shortly after graduating.

Journalism and long-term care are obviously different industries, but we began musing on Emily's backstory after a comment during Thursday's McKnight's-OnShift webinar caught our ears. It was from a millennial who said it was challenging to be hired because so many “entry-level positions” required a few years of experience.

“Organizations should be moving away from previous experience, and we're losing people such as the person who submitted this question,” observed presenter Irene Fleshner, RN, MHE, FACHE, Senior Vice President for Strategic Nursing Initiatives for Genesis HealthCare. The caveat is how difficult it is for long-term care to create training and mentoring programs for new college graduates entering the workforce.

Yet it's necessary, even as workplaces fear they'll invest money into millennials who will leave after a year. This includes millennials who haven't graduated from college. Long-term care, as Medicalodges' COO Fred Benjamin has said, is one of the best ways for low-paid or less educated workers to forge a career path to a significantly higher standard of living.

“Nursing in long-term care is its one of the few places where you can start out poor and make it to the middle class,” he said during a roundtable discussion I covered last year. “You can use tuition support to become an LPN, to RN to BSN and keep doubling your income. The government doesn't recognize the services from us in making these types of transitions.”

I agree with Benjamin and Fleshner that both private industry and governments needs to help with career paths for college graduates and those who didn't have the ability to afford college.

But I also want to dive into a common trope about millennials that I roll my eyes at (literally, which makes me look about 16). It's that they are less hard-working or less loyal. This is like dating: If the young people you are interacting with stink, it's because you're meeting the wrong people. There is data supporting that millennials have less institutional loyalty than generations before, but they also arguably are looking a work life balance that's not unreasonable.

What I think millennials have are high expectations. They have been raised to have more self-confidence than previous generations, to which I say good for them. In this op-ed by a millennial (which admittedly has a lot of points I disagree with), one of the complaints that struck me is a lack of flexibility in working from home and bad maternity leave policies. It's not unreasonable for an employed 24-year-old to look 10 years down the road and say, “Hmm, this organization doesn't seem to have flexible schedules, there's poor paid maternity or paternity leave, no tuition reimbursement, and a board consisting of 60-year-old white men. Perhaps I shall look elsewhere.”

The economy is far stronger now than it was five years ago, and no industry can afford to be complacent in how it recruits. Fleshner's idea of convening a focus group was a great one, as is directly asking millennials what's important to them. 

In Tuesday's blog, Emily will write about how she saw the interview and hiring process last year. So stay tuned to this space.

Elizabeth Newman is Senior Editor at McKnight's. Follow her @TigerELN.

Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.