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What Every Hiring Manager Needs To Know About The Class Of 2014

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Kathryn Dill, Forbes Staff

May 1, 2014

Seven Things Every Hiring Manager Needs To Know About The Class Of 2014

The tale of the millennial-next-door who is un- or underemployed and lives in mom and dad’s basement is a yarn that’s still grabbing headlines, but increasingly, data is painting a different picture of a highly-motivated generation, 72% of which feels optimistic about job prospects following graduation. Graduates are becoming choosier about the jobs they apply for and accept.

Also in the frame? The hiring managers scrambling to attract the best talent from the pool.

“There’s never been a lack of opportunities for the top 25%,” says Razor Suleman, founder of employee engagement software company Achievers, which co-published the survey. “Those people are being even more picky and feeling more confident. That’s starting to spread inside colleges and universities. ‘People are calling me back, they’re hiring, I’m getting interviews, I might turn down an offer.’”

Released today, “Class of 2014: Your Next Generation of Top Talent,” the fifth annual survey of 15,000 graduating college student by Achievers and ConnectEDU found that null

Citing statistics that claim that by 2015, 60% of available jobs will require skills held by 20% of the population, the survey predicts an all out war for talent in coming years, and recommends actionable steps for HR professionals looking to attract–and keep–the best and brightest from the class of 2014.

So how do you get these tech-savvy, challenge-seeking almost-college graduates to come work for you?

Provide Immediate And Regular Evaluation

Overwhelmingly, these soon-to-be professionals–71.3% of those surveyed–want feedback, and fast. This group of students was 11 or 12 when Facebook was founded, and they want their professional reckoning with the swiftness of clicking “Like.” According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, millennials only stay in each job an average of 18 months, so if you’re waiting to evaluate their first year in the job, they’ll already be two-thirds of the way out the door.

And leave the “years of experience” plaques in the storage room. When it comes to rewards, millennials want flexibility and optioms, including gift cards, travel opportunities, and the chance to participate in experiences, such as a company trip.

Sell It With Social

While not much has changed over the past five years in terms of how college seniors approach getting a jobs–the vast majority still apply directly through a company website, through a company recruiter at an event, or at a campus career services office–the research driving the choice to apply differs greatly from previous years.

Communicating enthusiastically about your company culture via social media is essential. Social tools are the compass by which college seniors are navigating the job hunt.

“Before they apply, all of the research happens in the social community around the company,” says Suleman. “Things like LinkedIn and Glassdoor have never been more important.”

Mentorship And Training Are Key

Millennials both want mentorship and need training–a dynamic that provides employers with a unique opportunity.

According to the survey, millennials “are not only the most educated generation in history, but are also the least experienced, making it difficult to recruit employees with the cutting-edge skills and experience employers seek.”

In a ranking of factors that contribute to where to work, opportunities for advancement and salary came in one and two–they always have–but mentorship edged into spot number three for the first time this year. (Vacation time, oft cited as a millennial preoccupation, ranked last.)

In pictures: Seven Things Every Hiring Manager Needs To Know About The Class Of 2014

An expressed desire for mentorship by those surveyed came to the fore again in a question about how companies could best promote engagement.

“We’re seeing the importance of having the right leaders, having the right mentors, and making them available to those millennials have a win-win effect,” says Suleman. “Millennials really do want to be coached, so having those mentors in your organization is a high-return strategy, because it helps ease [recent graduates] into the workplace.”

Manage Expectations

Survey results indicate that a high percentage of millennials feel very prepared to enter the workforce. Guess what? They’re not as ready as they think they are.

“Things like apprenticeships and technical trades required you to learn your job on the job–those things are fading out. Now we have this highly educated population that’s never worked a day in their lives,” says Suleman.

While companies might need to revamp to attract millennial talent, they also need to actively and honestly communicate with entry-level employees and play a role in helping them acclimate to professional culture.

“We recommend to employers to be up front with communication around the expectations. ‘We’re going to teach you our business, we think you fit in the culture but we’ll show you how you can thrive.’ Make sure they onboard with the right expectations.”

Follow me on Twitter @KathrynDill.

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