Businesses across industries are now seeing the influx of Millennial workers entering the workforce as students graduate high school and college and look for jobs. These new workers tend to be not much different from workers past, but they offer some potential benefits to organizations all over—including in the service industry. Sure, fewer Millennials hold technical training certificates, but they hold more college degrees (check out this graph showing continued degree attainment over a 40 year period).

Typically these degree-toting Millennials don’t have their eyes on career options in service, due in part to poor career planning information from their universities and colleges. For Millennials with two-year degrees, employment options might seem few and far between, but that is where service organizations can find and pull in new talent.

Degree = Career? Not Necessarily

College Grad GraphThere are many figures out there, and some suggest at least half of college graduates go into fields not directly related to their degree, but as demonstrated by the U.S. Bureau of the Census graph below, the number is closer to 27% of college graduates working in fields related to their major. The reason is complicated and can’t be answered in a quick post, but the point at hand is most graduates welcome less-obvious career paths, particularly if you offer further training, advancement, and educational options. Service managers should not be afraid to approach prospects holding two-year degrees or four-year degrees, particularly if the degrees can translate well into service like science and math, or even liberal arts degrees.

Work with Indecisiveness

Unfortunately, many Millennials do not know what they want to do, and this can work to the advantage of service organizations that want to snatch new talent early. An estimated 75% of college students change their major one or more times before graduation. For many students, choosing a degree is a tug-and-pull between “where the money is” and “where the passion is”. Finding a direction is tumultuous because internships, exposure to industries, and family influence can affect a student’s decision. Service organizations can use student indecisiveness and the uncertainty of the future to their advantage. By working with college career offices, service organizations can host Q&A presentations for students, either in the classroom, or in an auditorium or student center. Giving students an option is the first step to perking up interest for the field. Additionally, service organizations can offer internships, featuring a smattering of views into an organization—the back office, on the field, in the call center. By allowing Millennials a view into the service organization, you inspire interest and potential innovation, resulting in the possibility of new, enthusiastic talent.

Preparing for Millennials

Recruiting early and putting the service industry on a Millennial’s radar is one challenge, but another is being ready when they enter the industry. The service industry is evolving and the changes can be exciting for all involved, but particularly for Millennials who grew up with technology. Technologies like wearables, the Internet of Things, augmented reality, 3D printing, etc. can be great chess pieces in the game of recruitment.

More Millennials enter the workforce with more education than their parents once had, and they expect to continue their education, whether it’s in a classroom, through a mentor, or through additional training. Therefore, it is imperative service organizations prepare for Millennials. One way to do so is building an effective training program, but other ways include thinking about ways to make the service industry more “work-life” friendly with flexible schedules, which can pose a problem in an industry where quick service is paramount to customer relationships.

Despite the challenges, it is clear: leveraging Millennials in a field currently worried about the aging workforce is important for the field’s continued innovation and survival.