Millennials, those born approximately between 1980 and 2000, have gotten a lot of press the past few years. Not much of it is very flattering. This generation is quite different in lifestyle, social interactions, values and expectations. For a field as set in tradition and resistant to change as the fire service, transitioning this generation into its ranks may be a challenge. But it doesn't have to be.
Regardless of all that negative press and the preconceived notions you may hold, consider the following:
- The Millennial generation is bigger than the Baby Boom generation by about 15 million people.
- They take health and physical fitness seriously.
- They grew up with new and evolving technology and are “digital natives.”
- They embrace diversity of all kinds and are a very diverse generation.
In this time when the fire service is struggling to integrate technology, embrace diversity and, in some cases, desperately needs to fill in dwindling ranks, the traits listed above seem to fit the bill. Now, how do you successfully recruit them?
Though this article by Rackspace is about spending habits, it offers sound marketing ideas departments can use to engage Millennials as volunteers or employees. Here are some key takeaways:
- Be where they are. Without an active social media presence, you are missing them entirely.
- Provide experiences and seek authentic engagement. Your department or agency's brand must have a human face and a conversational voice.
- Video is a critical medium. Millennials spend 48 percent more time watching online videos than other age groups.
- Speak to their values. Social causes are important to them.
FireRescue1 offers an in-depth look at Millennials' impact on the fire service and the National Volunteer Fire Council provides advice on recruiting Millennial volunteers.