When was the last time you pulled an all-nighter?

Kim Benedict’s HRPA2014 blog from Jerry Zhang’s Session – “Recruiting and Retaining Young Talent”  Part One

I enjoyed this presentation so much and don’t want to miss sharing all the insights and content.   As such, I have decided to break it up into three separate blogs.  This is part one.

What makes young talent so different from the rest of us?

When was the last time you pulled an all-nighter to complete a work (your day job) project?  If you’re a new grad or student, there’s a good chance it was in the last week or month (yikes, that brings back memories!).  That’s student life.  When students enter the work environment, all the things they know and ways of behaving are not always translated into the workforce.  There are differences.

What you need to know, first and foremost, about young talent.  Four key points.

  1. They have energy, and lots of it.
  2. They learn faster.
  3. They dream big, and want to save the world.
  4. They’re cheap.  Young people will often work for experience for little or no monetary value.

Let me expand on some of these points presented.  Young talent may not have the wisdom of years of experience but if you create pathways they learn quickly and can innovate in new ways.

Young people are not drawn just by money.  Fulfillment is ‘king’.  There are other employment propositions that resonate and have more weight with this talent pool.

In Jerry’s presentation he also explored the idea that there is always a scale on quality of talent – some will fail and others will blow you away – there may not be much in the middle.

In his experience, it’s best to aim for the ceiling, not for the ledge.  Don’t settle; hire the best fit for your organization, always. How do you do this when young people don’t always have the checklists of skills and experience to match to your criteria?

How?  Create more fall off points in the process.  Obsessed with efficiencies Jerry challenges, why would an organization want volumes of resumes as part of their selection process?  Why would you want to be sifting through resumes for hours and hours at length?  Seems inefficient.  Can candidates not self-select in and out of the process and weed themselves out?  Ultimately saving time and money for all involved?

When recruiting young talent, companies typically focus on job fairs, campus efforts, job boards, etc.  These methods, according to Jerry, can be too procedural making them easy for students to ‘beat’ the system.  Why not make it more difficult (remember we are talking about young talent, 50% of the population entering the workforce)?  Why not make it just a little more challenging?

Zhang employs a point system for candidate activity that helps his company narrow down prospective talent.  For example, if you email him during the process as a follow up to your application, you may get a ‘point’, and in the end, you may just get a job in sales.  Throughout the process you are engaged to complete assignments and your behavior as a candidate is being tracked at all stages for performance  (more to come on this topic in part 2 & 3).

The end result, the best prospects that fit your organization and truly the ones who want a shot at working with you, get to the final stage.

Layered self-selection is just one of the ways to attract and engage the most passionate people to your company.  And passion, for young people, may be the only thing that experience can’t help you with.

Not all of these strategies and/or tactics will work for every organization but take a moment to think differently about how you are doing things.  There may be a better way to get to your desired outcome.  Take a chance, jump in!

Thanks Jerry for sharing!

Share if you like this!