As a millennial, I’m willing to admit that we have our flaws. We’re infamously portrayed in commercials and comedy sketches as being unmotivated and unable to look up from our iPhones. YouTube taught me how to hard boil an egg. I’ve never used a floppy disk.
Millennials are used to being slammed for some of the characteristics that make us different from previous generations; especially as our preferences - and the technology that has grown alongside them - have started to shape the way the world works.
Here are just a few of the things we’ve apparently ruined, according to newspaper headlines:
- Department stores (We’re slaves to online shopping)
- Taxi cabs (We’d rather Uber)
- Napkins (We prefer paper towels)
- Fabric softener (Ok - but actually. Why do people need this??)
We’ve also been given a bad reputation as we’ve entered the workforce.
We’ve been labeled as “needy” because we ask for regular feedback and coaching. We're infamous for "job-hopping" when we don’t feel we’re in a place we can grow. We’re sometimes deemed entitled or disrespectful because we expect our opinions to be heard (even by much more experienced employees) and we’re not afraid to challenge the “way things have always been done.”
As a business owner in lawn care or pest control, you may have experienced difficulties keeping millennial employees satisfied on your team. You might also have noticed that we’re a difficult bunch to tie down; and we’re not applying for jobs in the lawn care or pest control industry quite like we used to.
But clutch your fabric softener close and brace yourself, because here’s the truth: Like it or not, you need great millennials on your team; and you need to adapt your recruiting strategy to fit their needs in order to recruit, hire, and keep them at your company.
Don’t believe me?
For one thing, millennials are about to become the majority.
Right now, more than 33% of the workforce in the United States was born between 1982 and 2000. Over the next 5-10 years, as more than half of the working Baby Boomer population retires and the tail end of the current generation finishes high school and college educations, millennials will make up 50% of the workforce.
That representation won’t be mirrored in the lawn and pest industries.
In 2016, the lawn and pest industry was made up of 21% Boomers. Generation X made up the bulk of workers, at 46%. Millennials made up 28%.
If you did the math, you’ll notice a missing 5% - representing the open positions across the United States. This is every company that has the capacity and the need to hire new technicians, but that have been unable to find qualified people to fill that spot.
Consider what that might look like in five years, as Baby Boomers continue to retire and industry growth creates new jobs faster than millennials are entering the industry to take them.
In 2021, a mere 9% of jobs will be held by Boomers who are still working. Generation X will hold 44%. Assuming millennials entering the workforce join the industry at the same rate over the next five years, they will make up 35%.
This leaves a 12% gap of open positions without skilled workers in place to fill them - meaning it will be even harder to hire great people, and more expensive to keep them at your company.
Millennials Are a Catch
Despite any preconceived notions you may have about the millennial generation, it’s important to note that they do come with plenty of strengths to contribute to your team.
- Tech Savvy - Because millennials grew up alongside rapidly changing technology, they know how to use the tools we have today and catch up quickly when things change.
- Adaptable - Millennials are flexible. They are good at using their skills to fit new situations quickly, and willingly take on challenges that use those skills.
- Teamwork Pros - Most millennials grew up collaborating and working in groups in school, meaning they’re naturals at teamwork in the workplace.
- Dedicated - Millennials want to make an impact. They’ll work tirelessly for a cause they believe in or work that they feel matters.
Sounds great, right? There is just one hitch - and it’s that most millennials are not seeking out jobs in pest control or lawn care.
Good Things Come to Those Who Bait
Nobody sits at their desk dreaming about pest control.
There are a huge number of students graduating from high school or college who are unemployed or underemployed, and are actively looking for entry-level opportunities but don’t have pest control or lawn care in mind.
Millennials have an outdated perception of what a career in these industries means, so recruiting your next generation of all-star performers might require a little more than a “We’re Hiring!” sign.
Jobs in the lawn and pest industries are far from glamorous, but they can certainly be desirable - and it takes leadership and initiative to show that to the next generation. Not only can valuable face time with students and young job seekers pay off by generating exposure to the opportunities at your company; it could be where you find your next top performer.
- High school career exploration programs: There are plenty of kids with potential who aren’t interested in going to college for a four-year degree, or who aren’t interested in paying for a four-year degree. Show enterprising high schoolers that they could be on the path to owning their own company.
- Scouting & special interest clubs: Partnering with local 4H Club, Boy Scout, and Girl Scout troops for badges and career exploration workshops could spark interest. Seek out kids in local high schools’ entomology clubs or biology clubs, and get in front of the ones who would rather spend their time outdoors exploring those interests than pursuing them in a lab.
- Community colleges & trade school programs: If you’re located near a campus, this could be a great opportunity to offer some hands-on experience to students in related fields.
- Internship or apprenticeship programs: Not only is this a beneficial way to offer some experience to students in your area and get some extra help during your busy season - it’s also a great way to test-drive what might be your next great team member.
Getting in front of young job seekers is about more than just an open position; it’s about showcasing opportunity.
This means showing millennials their opportunity to make an impact - What does the job mean to the homeowners you help? How can they make a difference on the team? How can they serve the greater good of the community?
It also means highlighting the opportunity for personal and professional growth - What could the path ahead of them at your company look like? What valuable skills will they learn from you that they can use in their next job?
Are You Fishing in the Right Pond?
Working to expose the next generation to the opportunity available in the lawn and pest industries is important, but it can be tricky to prioritize spending time and energy there when you have a hiring problem now.
Your customers are looking for information and your services online; so are your next employees.
65% of millennials actively seeking jobs are starting their search on job boards like Indeed, LinkedIn, and ZipRecruiter. Some of them are starting in Google, searching “jobs near me.” More than half of them are doing it from their phones.
If you’re not advertising your open positions online at all, you’re missing out. If you’re just posting a bare bones job description on Facebook or on your website, you’re likely not getting the visibility you need to find the best candidates. And if you’re not tailoring your posts to address what millennials are looking for - you’re never going to hook top millennial candidates.
What Hooks a Millennial?
In this day and age, you’re not just competing for attention with other companies in your industry; you’re competing against employers in a variety of industries. Do you know what it takes to set you apart from the competition and catch the eye of millennial job seekers?
Millennials draw fewer boundaries between their personal and professional lives than previous generations. Enjoying what we’re doing, who we’re doing it with, and feeling like it matters is really important to us, and we want to make sure our values line up with the company’s.
When millennials are job hunting, they’re looking for clues that help them picture what life will be like if they work at that company. Are you taking advantage of your website and social media to fill in those blanks for them, or are you leaving them to guess?
Don’t just focus on the technical details of the job. Very few people are passionate about going into crawl spaces or spraying weeds; instead, focus on the big picture and how a new employee fits into that. Tell them the direct impact they’ll have on homeowners in the community, tell them the impact they can have on the team.
Don’t be afraid to provide context on benefits unique to the job - Millennials who are going to thrive in this position will be attracted by promises of freedom, flexibility, and autonomy out in the field.
Are you willing to invest in your employees?
It may be tempting to include the now-infamous “3 to 5 years of experience” requirement in your job descriptions, with the hope that you’ll get someone who has already been trained and be able to spend less time getting them up to speed; but if you do this, you’re automatically shutting down potential applicants who haven’t worked in the industry before.
It’s also tempting not to say anything; but if you’re not willing to clearly define that you’re willing to train a new hire, you’re leaving a big question mark for applicants.
Creating opportunities for growth is critical to recruiting employees, but it’s also one of the most critical factors in keeping them. If an employee doesn't feel supported and challenged, and doesn't feel like their team is willing to invest in their future, they will begin looking for other opportunities.
Reel In Your Dream Team
If you’re an owner of a pest control or lawn care company, you know that finding good employees is already a difficult process. It’s hard to recruit and retain people - especially the right people!
The bottom line is, it’s on you to inspire the next generation of pest control and lawn care industry leaders. Attracting millennial job seekers and meeting their needs now will ensure you don’t fall behind when you need them most.