How to Attract, Predict and Hire Talent in the Rough

Hiring young talent can be a difficult challenge for many employers. Yet with the large shift in the workforce currently taking place as thousands of baby boomers reach retirement age every day, it’s a hurdle that will need to be overcome very soon. And because millenials, or those born between the early ’80’s and the first part of this century, are unlike their predecessors in many ways, they will require a new, progressive recruitment strategy.

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Top young talent is likely so difficult to discern because they have such little track record. Outside of university and only a few years of work experience at best, recruiters have little to go on as to their level of fit for a vacancy. But with the changing workforce comes changing technology that allows us to better examine that information which we do have available about such greenhorns.

But let’s first consider how to attract young top talent. While conventional wisdom tells us “they’re young and hungry for any job they can get” the reality is that this group of newcomers is actually rather picky. Young people don’t merely want a paycheck at the end of the week; they want to know that they’ve made an actual difference, if not in the world then at least in the business. They want opportunities to demonstrate their leadership and, as a 2011 ILoveRewards study found, they’re looking for jobs that offer career advancement.

Young people also want to work in company’s that take advantage of new technology and new ideas. This doesn’t mean that your firm needs a profile on every form of social media available, but it does indicate that they expect us to act in a way that is timely and relevant.

Consequently, we need to emphasize the way our organizations fit such requirements, highlighting the unique employee advantages. In other words, we need to collaborate with existing employees to find out what makes working at company XYZ so great – and then we need to leverage that to the hilt with young people. Doing so effectively can actually compensate for a position that does not pay as well as comparable jobs.

But now that we’ve gotten past the issue of attracting talent, the question becomes “How do we predict and hire young people?” When comparing candidates that had years, if not decades, of experience, it was much easier to make assessments in passing. However, because this metric is less diverse with greenhorns, our best bet for predicting performance is to leverage science; more specifically, behavioral science.

Before you head for the hills at the mention of the term, know that you needn’t be an expert in the field. In fact, you really needn’t even be that familiar with it. In short, behavioral science is the study of how and why people do what they do. In a human resources setting, this is focused primarily on how and why people work. Through rigorous testing, applications of behavioral science allow us to actually predict how someone will perform on the job.

The most recent and widespread method for this is the appropriation of automated candidate assessments. These online questionnaires allow recruiters to quickly and effectively filter candidates based on job-relevant traits and competencies. In other words, recruiters and hiring managers can investigate a candidate’s job fit in a way that is consistent, time sensitive, and predictive.

For young candidates, this approach is dramatically more affective than the traditional method. Simply put, generic job descriptions and lengthy hiring processes are out. Digital candidate assessments that allow the hiring process to move quickly are much more attractive to millennial top performers. In short, it’s a win for all parties: recruiters, greenhorns and employers alike.

About the Author: Greg Moran is the President and CEO of, an Employee Selection and Automated Reference Checking technology suite as well as a respected author on Human Capital Management with published works including Hire, Fire & The Walking Dead and Building the Talent Edge. Greg can be found blogging at or on twitter @CEOofChequed.