Common mistakes and tips to avoid them when hiring young talent

The attraction, engagement and retention of young, diverse talent is vital across industries and key to the future of the Greater Cleveland area. Many cities across the United States have created initiatives and organizations to compete in the war for talent. In addition, employers now realize that younger generations — millennials and Generation Z — are key to their future success.

Leaders are making changes to entice this group, but even the most well-intentioned leaders and companies are making common mistakes when it comes to attracting, engaging and retaining millennial and Gen-Z talent. 

Common mistakes

First, leaders need to understand that not all young talent is the same. These are generations that require more of a personalized approach, not a one-size-fits-all strategy.

Second, work/life balance matters a great deal, but so do salaries. In almost every survey or report I have read on the topic, salary is the No. 1 attribute young talent wants in a position, though things like work/life balance are almost equally as important.

Third, many leaders do not understand that young talent wants to be involved in the community. Civic engagement is important to them. They see it as an opportunity to make meaningful change in their community.

Fourth, young professionals believe learning is valuable even after entering their careers. Continuous learning is important because it leads to new tasks, new projects, new positions and more. Companies often silo young professionals into a role when variety is what young professionals crave. 


Now, here are some tips to work past these four common mistakes and ensure you have the best and brightest talent on your team.

First, think about ways your company can create more of a personalized approach for younger generations. Perhaps you can pair each new hire with a mentor who can provide more of a one-on-one touch point and offer specific advice. Perhaps your company can create a professional development plan for each new hire to serve as a personalized road map.

Second, work with each new hire on a total compensation package to understand their needs and how you can meet them. In terms of salary, is the company being competitive locally, statewide and nationally? When thinking about work/life balance, can employees work from home? Can they have flex time to start and end their day as it works best for them? Can they work a four-day week? Not all of these options work for every company, but determine what does and use it as a strategic advantage.  

Third, the majority of young professionals recently surveyed in the Cleveland community noted that they learned of civic engagement opportunities through their employer. Help connect talent to nonprofits in the community. Top employers are also offering employees a few hours of paid time off to get involved in the community.

Fourth, companies should consider creating rotational programs and nonlateral promotions. These types of opportunities keep young talent interested, growing and learning. 

Test out these strategies with your next hire and you can avoid making some of the most common mistakes.

Ashley Basile Oeken is president at Engage! Cleveland.