Recruiting young talent should be easy: What are we doing wrong?

With more young people graduating university than ever before, why do so many industries struggle to find talented new workers?



The fight to recruit top young talent is universal, according to research published by Credit Suisse – and so are the mistakes companies make when it comes time to seek them out.

Professor Simon J. Evenett and Project Firefly representative Daniel Garraty, say that while millions of students graduate annually from the world's universities, companies – including those in Australia - nevertheless continue to report difficulty in finding and holding on to top talent.

“Much of the industrialized world may still be in recession but there is no end in the war for talent. Companies, governments, in fact every organisation, know that having excellent employees makes a substantial difference. Hiring the right people in the first place is much better than dealing with any later problems with underperformance. Yet finding good matches is becoming harder and harder, especially for university graduates. The strategies of talent seekers and providers are going to have to evolve,” say Evenett and Garraty. Here’s how:

Fear of Debt Discourages Poorer Students

“Even though a university education can yield tremendous payoffs both financial and otherwise, it would be naïve to suppose that students from poorer backgrounds won't shy away from the longer-established and better-known universities that tend to charge more tuition. For all the talk about scholarships and financial assistance, deep-seated fears about getting into debt will persist. More talent will shy away from the most expensive universities and recruitment strategies should reflect this reality.”

Traditional Recruitment Strategies Ineffective

“Students have become more jaded about frequently-used employer recruitment strategies. They are no longer impressed by one-off presentations by human resource management personnel on campus visits. Smart employers are learning that they need to offer students more than a sales pitch and an apero. Providing workshops on career-relevant skills increases the motivation and payoffs for students to attend and gives employers an opportunity to observe potential employees for several hours, sometimes even for a day or two. Some forward-looking companies have joined forces with academic programs to offer content that meet multiple objectives.”

Creative Networking Attracts Young Talent

“Some cutting-edge companies stay in touch with former employees, deliberately creating networks that have paid off in terms of contracts, information flow, and innovation. Why confine such networks to former employees? Why not create a network of interesting, potential future employees, tailored to the needs and career challenges faced by young talent? The network's activities need not be purely about recruitment, in fact sustaining the interest of young talent almost requires that any network operate on a different basis. Nothing prevents such networks being organised by associations of firms. Therefore, this option is just as relevant to small and medium sized enterprises as it is to large multinational companies.”

Initiate Dialogue to Win Young Talent

“There aren't any short cuts. It might be tempting to widen the reach for hiring new talent through organisational websites and the like. A fancy website isn't enough, though. Young talent doesn't want another one-way vehicle that neither elicits their contributions nor responds to them. The current state of information technology allows for many forms of dialogue with and between young talent, going well beyond blogging and low quality interactions. Providing a sequence of opportunities and interactions with young talent would allow an organisation to stand apart from its rivals.”

Flawed Process not Lack of Talent

It is paradoxical that at a time when millions graduate annually from the world's universities, organisations of every type report have difficulty finding and retaining top talent. This problem is not confined to the public or private sector, nor to organisations in certain countries. Something has gone wrong with the sorting process for young talent. Forward-looking organizations are not powerless to react and those that adjust to the new reality will quickly recognised for doing so by tomorrow's leaders.”





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