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Understanding the Pillars of Early Talent Recruitment

The importance of early talent recruiting cannot be understated, but to be successful in your endeavors, you must understand what Gen Z talent wants in the workplace. To discover exactly what young professionals expect from an employer, we conducted a sentiment study of 800 people from the Gen Z talent pool and the results were revealing. Based on what participants told us, we were able to identify four core pillars that describe what this talent cares about most—and they can act as a roadmap on how to make your company attractive to these candidates.

The Four Pillars of Early Talent Recruitment

Untapped’s Global Talent Acquisition Leader and Advisor Jason Miller recently hosted a webinar in conjunction with the National Association of Colleges and Employers entitled “Is Your Employer Brand a Gen Z Magnet or Repellent?”, where he discussed the four pillars we identified in our sentiment study and what they mean for early talent recruitment. The following are some takeaways from that discussion.

Pillar 1: Strong Employer Brand

An attractive employer brand has numerous benefits, not the least of which is the ability to bring talent through the door. And candidates know that there's not just one employment game in town, so if an employer brand doesn't measure up to their expectations, they're well aware of the fact that they can get their needs met elsewhere.

“It's not lost on us that the candidate market is one where they have a lot of options, and especially as you get into technical early talent recruiting, they have a lot of very similar options,” Jason explained. “So being a company that stands by its values, and does a good job of describing to the talent pool what those values are, just makes you a more attractive place for folks to work.” 

Hiring is great, of course, but part of the value of having a favorable employer brand is also the ability to retain the Gen Z talent you attract. Early in career talent doesn’t stop thinking about the quality of an employer brand after they've been hired, so companies need to create an environment employees want to stay in for the long term.

“This helps people have pride in where they work, so they want to stay,” said Jason. “It's our job to bring people in, but we also want those people to come in to stay, to be proud of where they work, and to talk about how great the company is with their friends, which helps with referrals.”

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Pillar 2: Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Gen Z is the most diverse talent pool in history, so it's not surprising they want to be in organizations with a diverse workforce. In fact, diversity is such a priority for this talent that they have no problem walking away from a dream job if the company doesn’t have a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion—which means DEI needs to be woven into your employer brand to hire this talent. However, organizations need to demonstrate a real dedication to DEIB, not just surface-level rhetoric, to successfully attract early career candidates. 

“When I talk about authenticity and I talk about doubling down on DEI, these are not things like when you stand up for a diversity organization just for the sake of standing up for a diversity organization,” Jason said. “People want to know that the company has employees with a diversity of experience, a diversity of thought, and who come from diverse backgrounds.”

Pillar 3: Talent Communities

Although the term "talent communities," may be relatively new to the recruiting lexicon, Jason points out that job seekers have really been gravitating toward talent communities all along and have made them part of their employment searches—so it's best to lean into this tendency and incorporate talent communities into your employer brand.

“We’ve always had talent communities. We've always had our friend networks or our alumni networks. We've always, as humans, gravitated toward these talent communities. But the fact of the matter is with technology, with social media, it’s possible to really expand talent communities further,” he said. “Eight in 10 job seekers would rather join a talent community before applying because they want the company they work for to have an employer brand that really speak to them.”

Pillar 4: In-Person Recruitment Events

While the pandemic made it necessary to organize virtual recruitment events, the fact is, early career talent yearns to connect with people in person and, in a post-pandemic environment, they’re actually favoring in-person events to online ones. Jason said this became clear to him when he started meeting students during live events again and they talked about how much they enjoyed working in an office, rather than virtually.

“Events have always been the lifeblood of early talent recruiting,” he said. “At the end of the day, when making the decision about your first job, you're doing all you can to gather as much information as possible—and what better way to do it in an authentic manner than when you're actually with other people that have made that same decision? Seven in 10 people would rather attend an event before applying to a role, and live events are two-and-a-half times more impactful than the virtual events are.”

To find out more about what Jason discussed during the webinar—which also includes a conversation with Nicole Wright, University Recruiting Lead at Gusto and Brittany Mitlo, University Recruiting Manager at Duolingo, about how they're using the four pillars in their own companies—watch “Is Your Employer Brand a Gen Z Magnet or Repellent?” here.

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