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In an environment where talent is key, what can a company do to access and retain the talent it needs, particularly young, educated talent?

This was the topic last month at HR Day and the Michigan Career Educators and Employers Association Annual Conference (MCEEA), where university career services and HR experts converged to share their experiences and knowledge to help Michigan companies gain the talent edge in this new economy. Here are a few strategies a number of speakers shared, summarized below, that you can implement to help your company gain a competitive advantage in the young, college educated talent market:

Recruiting Millennials
Cindy Brown, Executive Director of Hello West Michigan, knows what it takes to recruit Millennials – she spent over 12 years recruiting college graduates as new hires for Enterprise Rent-A-Car and is the immediate past president of MCEEA. The following strategies are based on her rich experience:

  1. Utilize career services offices, which are access points to young talent, and develop relationships with career services professionals who can help you navigate the university system and connect you to talent.
  2. Target a diversity of colleges and universities – talent comes from a variety of higher education institutions – small and large, private and public.
  3. Consider membership in MCEEA, which is free for the first year – MCEEA can enable you to connect to hundreds of career services professionals across Michigan and provide you with the latest recruiting information and opportunities.
  4. Host internships to create a trial opportunity for young talented individuals and broaden your company brand among the target population.

Considering International Talent
Athena Trentin, Director of the Global Talent Retention Initiative of Southeast Michigan, presented information pertaining to the rich opportunities available to and high ROI for employers hiring international talent. She made the following case:

  1. The international talent pool is highly entrepreneurial, innovative and over-represented in key STEM fields, such as software development, engineering, and business – hiring these talented individuals could help employers with hard-to-fill positions.
  2. Employers are driven by a set of myths that limit the hiring foreign nationals:
    1. Displaces U.S. workers
    2. Too expensive
    3. Too much red tape
    4. Not worth the effort
  3. The reality is the following:
    1. Hiring 100 foreign nationals with advanced degrees promotes job growth at a 100 H2Bs:183 new jobs ratio, in general, and a 100:262 ratio in STEM
    2. The ROI is high for employers who hire foreign nationals, particularly international students, who are not required to pay into social security, Medicare, or Medicaid, thus saving the employer money that can fund the H1B application and then some.
    3. International students come with their own work authorization for 1-3 years, which provides time for employers to work with a seasoned immigration attorney to plan out the process.
    4. Because immigrants tend to be more loyal and stay longer than their domestic counterparts, the employer effort reaps huge rewards in higher retention rates of top talent.

Retaining Millennials
Dr. Phil Gardner, Director of Research for the Collegiate Employment Research Institute, and author of the annual Recruiting Trends reports, was the keynote speaker at the MCEEA conference. He presented the concept of the T-Professional who possess both deep content knowledge and broad boundary-spanning competencies (many disciplines and many systems), career motivations and behaviors of Millennials, and the resulting skills gap that exists between the two. In brief, sourcing and retirement trends are creating a critical need among employers for new hires while employers’ competency expectations for employees are increasing to reflect the developed T-professional, including expectations that recent college graduates should be STAR performers (based on R. E. Kelly’s model) before they start work. In juxtaposition of this atmosphere, young people fresh from university have broad content knowledge that likely spans multiple disciplines, lack experience working in systems that enable our newest colleagues to quickly navigate their new environment, and are motivated to engage in meaningful work in positions that offer great benefits, job security, and opportunities to learn. To bridge these competing situations, Dr. Gardner offers employers the following strategies:

  1. Offer more internships before students graduate from university
  2. Connect expectations to reality – understand that recent college graduates will not be polished and ready to hit the ground running like an experienced hire – they have a learning curve that can be scaled quickly with support from you
  3. Offer career development opportunities to new hires
  4. Encourage senior employees to mentor new hires