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What Really Attracts Gen Y to a Job

Hiring the best and brightest can be surprisingly tricky. These things are catnip to young talent.
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The recent news that America has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment in the developed world may be horribly discouraging, but it's hardly surprising. For years we've been bombarded with stories of young people--even college educated ones--languishing in parents' spare bedrooms or menial jobs.

It shouldn't be hard to hire the best and brightest, but paradoxically many business owners report it is.

"The biggest single challenge will be recruitment, as the world's population ages and companies seek specialists in fields such as technology," concluded a survey from Odgers Berndtson and Cass Business School cited by CNN. Meanwhile, plenty of entrepreneurs have shared stories of their heroic efforts to attract the cream of the crop, particularly grads with in-demand tech skills.

But while unemployed young people may seen like a dime a dozen, highly talented Gen Y job candidates willing to come work for you can be a rare commodity. How can you attract more of them?

A good place to start is your job ad, Jason Dorsey, a self-described Gen Y expert, told the blog SmartRecruiters. Sure, you're probably working your network, using social media and perhaps reaching out to local colleges, but you're almost bound to put out a good, old fashioned notice when you begin hiring. Do it poorly, and the best of Gen Y will ignore it. Do it well, and you'll reap the rewards.

Here are three things that draw Gen Y to a job ad, according to Dorsey:

Real pictures: "Everybody shows fake pictures. It’s a total turn off."

Stories: "Interview your ACTUAL employees of different ages talking about what it’s like to work there and what they really like," he says.

Challenges: "In your job descriptions, talk about the challenges candidates will face in the first year," says Dorsey. "Everybody talks about responsibilities, or they talk about pay or all this stuff. Gen Y is very challenge-driven, so they want to know when they show up what kind of challenges they’ll have to face."

It may sound counter-intuitive to put the good and the bad on display, but Dorsey insists that by telegraphing accessibility and authenticity, you'll end up with a younger--and awesome--pool of talent. 

Do you buy his ideas?

Last updated: May 13, 2013

JESSICA STILLMAN

Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist.




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