How 5 “Old School” Industries Are Recruiting Millennials

It’s hard enough to attract and retain millennials to sexy tech companies, high-paying

banking firms and other “hot” sectors. But what if you’re in a decidedly old school field or one that’s not top-of-mind for many job seekers?

Here are some of the lessons these industries have learned that you can apply to your own recruiting efforts, no matter what sector you represent:

Car Makers Drive Home New Working Conditions

“To lure more young talent straight out of school, Detroit is giving itself a full-on Silicon Valley makeover. General Motors Co. is spending $1 billion renovating its 60-year-old Tech Center in a northern suburb. Ford is overhauling its 1950s-era Dearborn campus to add green space, walking trails and eco-friendly designs, such as a cylindrical glass tower dubbed the ‘Sustainability Showcase.’ The first phase of Ford’s facelift involved taking over an entire wing of an aging shopping mall in its hometown. Inside a former Lord & Taylor department store, digital engineers work in collaborative spaces. Amenities include rows of plug-in, stand-up hoteling stations.” — Read more at Bloomberg.

Selling Millennials On Sales Careers

[Eliot] Burdett [CEO of headhunting firm Peak Sales Recruiting] recommends keeping in mind that “being chained to a desk is Millennials’ worst fear, and they despise the idea of ‘face time.’ ‘They’re inherently mobile, and they want to be able to work from anywhere.’ So talk about the opportunities salespeople have for travel and remote work, including telecommuting. ‘Sales is not a 9-to-5 job, and salespeople who meet their numbers are rarely, if ever, questioned about why they weren’t at their desks,’ notes Burdett. ‘That’s if they even have desks.’ — Read more at

Recruiting the Next Generation Army

“The Army is realizing that its millennial soldiers may have ingenuity and expertise that will only rise to the surface if given space. After all, important changes can come from anywhere in an organization. When [Col. Robert] Carr, [the current U.S. Army Chief of Staff Senior Fellow at the Kellogg School] was serving as a company commander stationed in a remote location in Nicaragua, he was tasked with solving a complex water-drainage problem caused by a severe hurricane. … A 19-year old vehicle operator—a truck mechanic—spoke up to say he knew how to get the job done. His platoon leader asked him to stand down. But Carr gave him the floor, and the young private, barely a year into his Army career, fixed the problem. … ‘You don’t want a bunch of bobbleheads who can’t think for themselves, but you do want to provide discipline and structure to the way that millennials present new ideas,’ Carr says. ‘This gives the military a framework to honor the past, capitalize on the moment, and posture for the future.’”— Read more at Kellogg Insight.

Manufacturing Better Job Descriptions

Lockheed, says [John] Heylinger, [director of talent acquisition for Lockheed Martin], went through some soul-searching a few years back and decided it needed to play up its pizzazz factor.  A senior communications person helped make over job titles and descriptions. ‘We’ve built in opening paragraphs to speak a little bit differently than our very vanilla, boring job descriptions that we normally posted,’ says Heylinger. ‘If you’re a software engineer and you’re working in avionics on the Orion [Mars mission], why not just call it ‘Avionic Software Engineer Working on Orion,’ or something that’s flashy? Because if you just put ‘Software Engineer’ along all the other software or mechanical engineer jobs on the market, chances are you’re just going to get sucked into looking like everybody else.’”— Read more at IndustryWeek.

Insuring a Pipeline of Workers

“Brian Duperreault, CEO of Hamilton Insurance Group [is] one of the minds behind Insurance Careers Month, …. an industry-wide social media campaign that’s trying to raise awareness about the career. He says to reach millennials the industry has to meet them where they are and understand what they care about. So they’re trying to emphasize one aspect about the career — service. ‘From major hurricane events and earthquakes to explosions — in all those cases we take a person’s risk and give them some comfort and some reassurance that things will be OK.’” — Read more at NPR.

What recruiting tactics are being used in your industry? We’d love to hear any advice you have for attracting and retaining millennials in the comments below.

Lindsey Pollak is the leading expert on millennials and the multigenerational workplace, trusted by global companies, universities and the world’s top media outlets. A New York Times bestselling author and keynote speaker, Lindsey began her career as a dorm RA in college and has been mentoring millennials — and explaining them to other generations — ever since. Her presentations have audiences so engaged that, in the words of one attendee, “I didn’t check my phone once!” Contact Lindsey to discuss a speaking engagement for your organization.

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