5 Tips for Recruiting Lab Employees of All Generations

Generational hiring is always an important aspect of running a business, but especially so right now. There are currently four generations represented in the workplace, and each group has different motivations and behavior patterns. So how do you keep baby boomers and millennials alike happy at your water lab?

It starts with understanding the similarities and differences between each of these demographics. For instance, younger employees value workplace independence, while their veteran counterparts may shine when leading others. With these five tips and recruiting strategies, you'll be able to staff your lab for success with different generations in mind.

1. Look to Baby Boomers for Part-Time Work

The generation born in the mid-1940s through the mid-1960s is nearing retirement, but don't count them out just yet. Today, the traditional retirement age isn't as much of a strict cutoff as it was for previous generations. CNN Business reports that older workers are holding onto jobs for longer because they need the money and are still healthy enough to work.

As boomers wind down their careers, many of them prefer part-time jobs. Keep this in mind if you need to fulfill seasonal or part-time positions at the lab.

In this digital age, even the oldest generation is likely to search for jobs online. But boomers are less likely than their younger counterparts to look for employment opportunities via their mobile devices, according to an Indeed Hiring Lab report.

Expect this demographic of job candidates to have relatively realistic expectations about working in a water testing lab. The Indeed report shows that boomers search most often in occupations where there are many job openings, suggesting they may have a better sense of what employment options are available.

2. Consider Generation X Workers for Managerial Roles

When considering generational differences in hiring, don't forget about Generation X — the folks who are now aged 39–54. The Indeed report suggests that Gen X candidates are ideal for many hard-to-fill roles.

This is because they are nearly as tech-savvy as millennials, but with more real-world experience. They have the professional background and invaluable knowledge that you'll need to fill management positions that'll open up as boomers retire.

3. Refresh Your Lab's Online Presence to Attract Millennials

Everyone wants to know how to recruit millennials in the workplace. According to the Pew Research Center, millennials are the largest generation in today's labor force, making up 35% of employees in the U.S.

If you're looking to fulfill lab technician positions with college-educated young adults who will stick around for several years, target millennials with your recruitment efforts. A 2017 Pew report found that many millennials have completed a bachelor's degree, and they're staying in jobs longer than college-educated Gen Xers.

Before applying to a job opening, though, millennials will do a deep dive to find out about the lab as a whole. This generation of social media users and online aficionados will thoroughly research your company, which is why your brand needs to be well represented online. According to Inc., millennials will spend eight to nine hours researching specific companies they're interested in. Make the investment in auditing the careers page of your lab's website, the company's Glassdoor page, and, of course, its social media channels.

4. Give Generation Z Their Independence

The youngest workers who are now entering or graduating college, dubbed Generation Z, are great candidates for entry-level positions or your lab's internship program. Gen Zers are more pragmatic, more money-conscious, and more entrepreneurial than millennials, according to a LinkedIn report. They value independence in the workplace, so solo lab work could be a great fit for this demographic.

When recruiting this generation, water lab managers should emphasize any independent projects relevant to the role. The average attention span of Gen Zers is eight seconds — shorter than millennials' famously brief 12-second attention span. So keep your job posts snappy and add visual elements, such as workplace photos and engaging videos.

Gen Zers have had mobile connectivity since birth. Like millennials, they have excellent online research skills and they'll find anything your company puts online. Use this as a chance to highlight your lab's most appealing attributes.

5. Post on Sites That Attract All Generations

When recruiting multiple generations, you have to cover all your bases. Post the available position on job sites such as Indeed, Monster, and LinkedIn. Most importantly, list the job on your lab's website. This will help it appear in Google's search results when a candidate starts their job hunt. To reach younger generations, share the job with career centers at local universities.

Proceed with caution when recruiting on social media. From algorithm changes to shifts in preferred social media platforms, these channels come with a plethora of challenges that can make it hard to reach job candidates. Just because young prospective employees are hanging out on social doesn't mean you should recruit them there. According to the LinkedIn report, some candidates even say recruiting on certain social media platforms feels intrusive.

Despite all the digital options at our fingertips, young workers still look for job opportunities through traditional routes. According to Inc., Gen Z prefers employers to share information about job opportunities via email and in writing through snail mail and publications. Networking remains a strong way for employers to connect with job applicants, so try making an appearance local career fairs and hiring events.

Having a multigenerational workforce can only improve your water lab. Each demographic presents unique skill sets, experience levels, and approaches to tackling tasks. Together, these generations can fulfill all the needs of your lab while growing and learning with one another. If you take time when recruiting and keep these different strengths and preferences in mind, you stand to gain a diverse and strong workforce for your lab.

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Kelly McSweeney
Science and Technology Writer
Armed with a master's degree in writing and a decade of professional work in scientific publishing, Kelly McSweeney writes about science and technology innovations. She translates complicated topics into stories that capture the curiosity of everyone from casual readers to technical experts. Kelly has degrees from Emerson College and the University of Vermont, and has worked on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics publications at Wiley, In Compliance magazine, and Pearson. Her articles about the latest research are published by ZDNet, Northrop Grumman, and Wiley.