If your company wants to recruit top young talent, campus job fairs and posters don't cut it with Generation Y. Young people today aren't interested in being pulled away from socializing with friends, going to class and studying. When they're ready to find that first meaningful job, they'll come looking for you, so you need to do it their way if you want to connect with the best and the brightest, says Lauren Friese, founder of TalentEgg.ca, a career website for 18- to 24-year-old students and recent graduates.
"Old recruiting methods, such as setting up a booth at a special time and day, interrupting students from their day-to-day rhythms, aren't as effective as they used to be," says Ms. Friese, who launched the site in 2006. "Top students don't show up at job fairs because they're too busy doing the things that matter to them as a student. What employers are starting to realize today is that they have to integrate their recruitment messages into media that is targeted to students when they're looking for jobs."
The timing of traditional campus recruiting is all wrong, says Ms. Friese. University job fairs are typically held when students aren't looking for jobs.
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"The interesting thing about student traffic on Talent Egg is that employers tend to do all their recruiting on their schedule, which is September for entry-level positions and January for summer internships," says Ms. Friese. "Students are completely unaware of this. They tend to look for jobs when it makes sense for them, so our traffic really spikes at the end of January, February, March and April, when students are getting ready to graduate. It's a fundamental problem with campus recruitment today."
A member of Gen-Y herself, defined roughly as people born between 1980 and 1999, Ms. Friese says the most important thing to know about this generation is that they grew up able to access information whenever they wanted in whatever medium they wanted. So they're not about to be forced into consuming information when a marketer or recruiter wants to speak to them.
"Employers have to realize that information about them needs to be available constantly when students are looking for information," says Ms. Friese. "You need to help the top students find you and the jobs with your company."
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"To attract Gen-Y, employers first and foremost need to be where and when students are looking for them," says Ms. Friese. "What's the number one tool that student use when they want to find things? Google."
But why should employers cater to what Gen-Y wants? Simply put, now that the financial crisis is easing up, baby boomers are thinking about retirement. Companies will need Gen-Y.
"There will always be competition for top talent," says Ms. Friese. "There aren't enough A-players out there - never are."
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Ms. Friese suggests that companies often miss great people by being too narrow in their recruiting. She says that most recruiters are only looking for students with engineering or business degrees, but the vast majority of students fall outside of that. She advises employers to broaden their scope and realize that intelligent students may be fantastic in other areas with a little training because their learning curve is so quick.
Another mistake companies make is in their language and tone. If they want to appeal to Gen-Y, their communications need to be authentic.
"The type of communications that have gone through your PR department, then your legal department and back to your website won't appeal to Gen-Y," says Ms. Friese. "Write like a real person - like you're talking to someone in a tone that is relatable and genuine. Aside from being ad-blocking ninjas, Gen-Y have BS detectors in their heads."
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