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Careers: Creative Interactivity and Other Musts To Attract Young Talent

Because it’s a buyers market, when looking to attract young talent, compensation and location will continue to be increasingly important. But, over the near term, so too will your ability to reach them using new media, creative interactivity, and old-fashioned word of mouth.

Because it’s a buyers market, when looking to attract young talent, compensation and location will continue to be increasingly important. But, over the near term, so too will your ability to reach them using new media, creative interactivity, and old-fashioned word of mouth.

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Compensation. A business professor once told our class “It’s all about the bottom line.” And in many ways, when it comes to hiring he was right. Cost of living differences aside, top candidates typically want to be paid top dollar. If you’re new to formalized recruiting and you’re looking to hire undergraduate or graduate students, contact career offices at core recruiting schools for up to the minute salary data.

Location. Not something most companies can easily change at the drop of a dime, mid- to large-sized companies have the capacity to open up satellite offices in the U.S. and abroad. As the competition for top talent becomes even more intense and job seekers become less flexible about where they work, companies that offer geographic options will have a competitive advantage. Companies that were once able to hang their hats on shorter commute times and the opportunity to live in the suburbs are finding that might not be enough. To land top talent, sometimes you need multiple locations.

And, as I mentioned in an earlier post, don’t overlook the importance of marketing your city. Whirlpool is one such company that does a great job of highlighting what their location has to offer prospective employees.

New media. This is the wild card. A lot has been written about companies using Facebook, MySpace and YouTube to do a little digging on applicants. Now, more and more companies are starting to jump on board using those same sites as a marketing vehicle to attract talent. This is quite possibly the single biggest opportunity to change the way job seekers interface with, and identify companies of interest. But because we’re talking about it now, it’s already old news. Challenge your recruiting team to think about the face of recruiting over the next few years. How will your organization use technology to attract and land great candidates? Chances are company websites, flashy videos, and huge job boards aren’t going to be enough.

Creative interactivity. Companies recruiting on campus have traditionally followed a standard model. First, play a flashy video that includes sound bites from senior executives and junior employees. Then, dive into an hour-long presentation with time for a few student questions at the end followed by a little mingling. The benefits of these presentations are likely short lived. What students often remember is creative interactivity–having a chance to learn about the company while also seeing first-hand what the job involves. For example, Lehman Brothers sets up a sales and trading simulation and Fidelity hosts a stock picking game for MBAs. Other companies sponsor tailgates or case competitions. The benefits of these activities are enormous. They create a huge buzz on campus and they also give companies a chance to evaluate candidates more than they would if they relied on a traditional hour-long run of the mill company presentation.

Word of mouth. The low-tech approach to wooing candidates, there’s no better marketing resource on a college campus than a returning intern. Long after a company presentation or career fair is over, a former intern will continue to interact with dozens of classmates every day. But, as is often the case, that can be a double-edged sword if the intern didn’t have a great summer experience. So, don’t over hire interns. Make sure you have enough projects to keep them busy and check in with them periodically (not just during a mid-summer review) to see how things are going. And before they head back to campus, if you don’t already do so, schedule an exit interview to get a feel for what worked and what didn’t.

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Increased competition for candidates requires continuous improvement around recruiting strategies and methods. The companies that continue to be thought leaders in this space will continue to attract and yield young talent.

Shawn Graham is an Associate Director with the MBA Career Management Center at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and author of Courting Your Career: Match Yourself with the Perfect Job (courtingyourcareer.wordpress.com).

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About the author

Shawn Graham partners with small businesses to create, implement, and manage performance-driven marketing strategies. His knowledge base includes media relations, business development, customer engagement, web marketing, and strategic planning.

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