top of page

3 Costly Errors Companies Make When Hiring Millennials in Senior Positions

Updated: Oct 24, 2019

There's a key issue hiring managers are facing right now - how to successfully hire and onboard millennials in senior positions.

Two years ago, millennials became the most populous generation in the workforce. And now more and more millennials are advancing into managerial roles. With a generation shift between Baby Boomers, Gen X and Millennials, there are rational concerns about the future success of any business. Getting this hiring process wrong could come at a significant cost.

So what 3 key risks are there when hiring a millennial for a senior role?

Risk 1: Expertise

Many millennials will have witnessed family members or friends struggle in the 2008 economic recession. A by-product of this was they learned that having a deep but limited skills set put them at a disadvantage.

Zendesk recently called everyone who graduated after the 2008 financial crisis ‘deep generalists’. They grew up with technology that enabled them to quickly develop a range of new skills.

Millennials have a wide but limited knowledge and are "swiss army knives" in the workplace.

This means that many millennials will not be deeply knowledgeable in the areas they oversee. They are likely to manage people working in positions they have never been in themselves. And if they aren’t experts at what they do it will be more difficult for them to roll up their sleeves and say “Let’s figure this out together.” Instead, there will be an increased focus on delegation and outsourcing tasks to the right subject matter expert.

Not only will this potentially cost more in additional hires, but it will also place a question mark over their skills set and ability to manage. If you do not address this during the hiring stage, it could cost you a lot of your valuable money and time.

Solution: Expertise

So, how do you resolve this potential risk during the hiring process? The first stage is to acknowledge that millennials will have a unique and different management style that may change the face of your company.

Yes, millennials may find it harder to solve intricate problems that arise themselves, but if there are resources laid out to outsource this work to an expert, you may just find that the quality of the work increases. Not to mention the manager will have time freed up to manage a different task that needs their attention.

Finally, you may not be able to find a millennial to tackle all problems themselves, but you can make sure that you choose one who will offer creative solutions to problems. The managerial process will inevitably change in the next couple of years as millennials become the majority in senior positions and finding someone who will help your company evolve is key.

Risk 2: Communication

Communication may soon be at the forefront of your problems when you hire a millennial manager. The advantages of growing up with technology are often spoken about, but what are the disadvantages?

  1. Millennials have grown up communicating from behind their screens. Text messages, emails and social media mean that face-to-face conversations are not the norm anymore. However, being able to articulate yourself in spoken conversation is vital to being a successful manager. This not only applies to work you do with your team, but meeting heads of other departments, presenting to clients and speaking with shareholders and CEOs.

  2. Millennials are comfortable using collaborative apps that make communication at work easier. But there are times when communication apps and emails won’t suffice. Some millennials won't feel comfortable facing difficult conversations head on and in person to find a solution.

Speaking with candour is a crucial skill that managers must have and not being able to do so will mean that issues go unsolved, differences with employees won’t get settled and confidence in the management will waver.

Solution: Communication

Firstly, many millennials will be adept at communicating effectively and it is both our job as a recruiter and yours as a hiring manager to separate those who are good face-to-face communicators and who can deliver difficult feedback from those who are not.

Our advice is to qualify during an interview whether or not the candidate has the confidence and ability to communicate effectively with their team. Ask them to prepare a presentation that will showcase their skills.

If you hire or have hired a millennial that struggles with communicating, why not set out a budget to train them in this skill?

Risk 3: Career Impatience

In the US, the average millennial changes jobs 6.3 times between the ages of 18 and 25. "Career impatience" is a problem you will likely face or have faced with a millennial workforce. A consistent complaint about millennials is their unrealistic timeline for being promoted. And when they don't receive salary increases, promotions or bonus', they move on.

This may not seem like as big of an issue when hiring millennials in senior roles, but be wary of their impatience to climb the ladder further before they are ready.

Solution: Career Impatience

Leaders need to be comfortable with the accelerated career advancement expectations of Millennials, and strategise ways to satisfy their desire for career progression. Here are 2 ways of how to do this:

  1. Be transparent. Millennials who gain early clarity surrounding their career progression will be able to adjust their expectations and explore cross-collaboration opportunities to gain more experience and to put their anxious ambition to good use.

  2. Develop your coaching skills. Do not think that just because a millennial is in a senior role that they do not need coaching. Coaching is the leadership style that resonates most with Millennials. Effective coaching not only helps your employee become more valuable that much faster, it also instils a sense of trust and loyalty making them less likely to leave.

What should you do?

Yes, millennials will, for the most part, offer a vastly different management style and perspective and by embracing change and development you will ensure that your company remains successful.

Major companies like IBM have begun retooling their hiring strategies in order to find millennial talent. Are you going to join them?

At HVO, we use behavioural science techniques to see how successful each individual would be in a role. To chat about hiring senior millennial talent, schedule a call with me. We'd love to hear from you.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page