Watch out, Gen Xers -- according to the Pew Research Center, Millennials have gained the majority and now comprise the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. Clearly, companies competing for top talent are already tapping into this labor pool in order to meet their recruiting needs. It's time to evaluate what's working in Millennial talent acquisition and strategize for post-Millennial hiring, too.

Young hires can present a challenge, as nearly 40 percent of employers cite a lack of qualified candidates for even entry-level work, according to a McKinsey & Company report. Still more -- 60 percent -- bemoan a lack of preparedness for the same sorts of job openings. While the skills gap is something that employers can address with training, it also creates the perception of untalented workers, leaving a large pool of candidates waiting to be discovered.

Philip Hardin, CEO and co-founder of aptitude-based career guidance program YouScience, views the skills gap in terms of opportunity: "While America may have a skills gap, we do not have a talent gap. Young people across the country have the aptitudes and natural abilities to do the work that our economy requires. However, education and industry leaders must work together to more effectively help students uncover and leverage that talent for high-demand career opportunities."

When it comes to discovering your company's next top performers, there are a number of methods for finding the brightest and the most motivated, from consulting illustrious academic associations to popping up on trendy dating apps. Here are four to consider:

1. Take advantage of self-selection.

When looking for top young talent, why not let those candidates identify themselves? Commencement season produced another bumper crop of college grads, and the best ones are ambitious and eager to make a name for themselves. When you're evaluating younger candidates, don't overlook age-old qualifiers such as involvement in honor societies and professional organizations. Membership in an accredited, international honor society like Beta Gamma Sigma can indicate standout applicants, while exclusive internships with companies such as Under Armour demonstrate a competitive drive.

2. Host a hackathon.

Hackathons aren't just for Google -- almost every industry now has some cybersecurity component, which means companies can attract coders and analysts with hacking contests. This tactic is even becoming popular in industries as well-established as banking, where the demand for cybersecurity talent far exceeds the supply. In fact, Symantec has predicted that 1.5 million cybersecurity jobs will go unfilled by 2019.

3. Schmooze applicants with AI.

Despite its relative infancy, AI has already had a profound impact on many different areas of business. Recruiting is certainly one. Various AI technologies such as chatbots can interact with large numbers of applicants and narrow down your search, while other technologies such as Beamery can build meaningful relationships with your most valuable candidates, whether they're actively searching for a job or not.

4. Be present on unexpected platforms.

When you're looking for new employees, you're also marketing your organization. As every good marketer knows, being seen by the members of your target audience requires you to meet them wherever they hang out. That might mean posting an ad on social media, including Snapchat and Instagram, but most companies stop there. The most innovative brands come up with unconventional alternatives. Amazon went so far as to post open positions on dating app Tinder, while Goldman Sachs marketed to potential candidates on Spotify.

Winning over customers can often require some outside-the-box thinking, and winning over talented young employees is no different. Most organizations post to the same overcrowded job boards and then have to sift through thousands of job applicants to find the few who are actually qualified. Meanwhile, unconventional acquisition methods can help both employer and applicant stand out while creating valuable connections that might never have occurred otherwise.

Published on: Jul 31, 2018
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