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Connecting with top talent to fill positions is always challenging, But drawing promising young applicants can be even more difficult. Traditional methods of recruiting often miss the mark with Generation Y, also known as millennials, who were born between 1981-2000.

Tim Ryan, founder and chief executive officer of, an online career site for young professionals, suggests the best way for employers to approach Gen Y is to target the right channels.

It's not just about going online, he says, but going where Gen Y spends its time. Online job boards with dozens of new postings every week may drive large volumes of candidates, but well-qualified applicants can get lost in the sea of resumes. They might also find the process frustrating, time-consuming and inefficient.

"Big job boards have been a catch-all for different kinds of careers, but they're less relevant to Gen Y because they want to be able to network with their peers and discuss what it's like to work in a particular industry or position," Mr. Ryan says. "They don't want that kind of static interaction, with just a job posting and its description."

Those channels include career services that cater to Gen Y as well as social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

"Employers need to be very specific on their employer brand - it's not just what you do, it's why you do it - and what it means to work at your company. That's often lost in the traditional approach of, 'Here's the job description, here's what we do.'"

One of the most important things employers can to do to attract and retain Gen Y is offer training and development, whether through dedicated programs or assigned mentors.

"People consistently rank that higher than cash bonuses or company cars," Mr. Ryan says. "Gen Y wants to feel like they're constantly improving. It only adds benefit to the employer."

When it comes to work/life balance, Gen Y sees the line between them as increasingly blurred, Mr. Ryan said.

"Gen Y wants to work with people that they can see as their friends, or they want to work at companies where their friends are already working. So it's important that employers communicate that aspect of it," Mr. Ryan says. "People will actually go to companies where friends of theirs are working because they want to feel part of a community."

It's important to provide extracurricular activities, he says, whether on or off the premises. Employers aren't losing productivity by doing this, he says - it actually increases.

Companies also need to communicate their beliefs and responsibilities, Mr. Ryan says. Those that run an environmentally friendly organization, support charitable work and allow employees to take volunteer time rank highly among Gen Y.

"When a company is recruiting, corporate responsibility should be upfront, but it has to be something that the company believes and lives - not just a sentence in a job posting," Mr. Ryan cautions.

"If you pitch millennials on something like that and then it turns out that it's not something that the company lives and breathes, that frustrates them and may make them leave."