7 Ways to Attract Young Tech Talent

How do you capture the attention of young professionals to recruit and retain them effectively in today’s times?

This question is especially important in the technology industry, where millennials tend to be job hoppers and where there is a high demand for qualified professionals. A recent survey from ISACA, Tech Workforce 2020: The Age and Gender Perception Gap, found that:

  • 49% of tech professionals under age 30 have changed jobs within the past two years 
  • 70% of tech professionals would consider changing jobs within the next two years and are considered “in-play” for recruitment

All of which provides an opportunity for recruiting teams searching for tech talent to supplement traditional methods with approaches that appeal to young professionals and yield positive impacts across the workforce. Here’s how.

1. “Get Your Sparkle On”

You’ve got to reimagine job descriptions drastically in many cases. As Caitlin McGaw, CEO and chief recruiting officer with boutique executive search firm Candor McGaw, suggests, “Get your sparkle on, starting with the job description. Most job descriptions are boring and lack important messaging. By adding information about your awards and accolades — such as a best place for women, millennials, IT professionals, or working parents — you will capture attention. Mention unique wellness or life perks. Talk about the career-growth track record of employees who started in the role. Finally, talk about the impact of this position within the organization.”

2. Let People Have a Life

You want to paint a picture for candidates so that they can see themselves growing professionally and personally with your organization. While opportunities for global mobility, remote work, parental leave, and sabbaticals aren’t new ideas, they are particularly appealing to younger generations that are more globally connected and prioritize wellness. Indeed, 64% of survey respondents say they experience stress or burnout in their current roles. That’s why it pays to outline a career path with your organization that suggests an innovative company mindset and highlights your use of emerging technologies that support new (and intriguing) ways of getting work done.

3. Get With Groups

The survey found that female IT professionals often feel stuck in their current positions and are unsure how to advance their careers to the next level. Consequently, initiatives that support women and other groups are a great way to promote connectivity for camaraderie, mentorship, and professional development. Likewise, support for professional association membership is also advantageous for collaboration, education, and networking. ISACA and SheLeadsTech are excellent resources for women to make connections, ask each other for advice, and hear success stories. Also consider mining internal employee networking groups for stories to share internally and externally and personalize and promote meaningful experiences.

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4. Go Beyond the Résumé

The ideal candidate may lack expected qualifications but possess advantageous traits that tend to be success factors. By keeping an open mind and ensuring that your people have training opportunities, you can widen your talent pool. Various organizations, such as AWS, Google, and LinkedIn, offer (often free) training that can help candidates with non-traditional education backgrounds.

5. Start Your Pipeline Early

Fifty-six percent of women believe the lack of female role models is the primary reason for the gender imbalance in tech. That’s why it’s a good idea to partner with higher education and K-12 schools as a means to share knowledge, offer mentoring, and extend your talent pipeline source. This also helps to provide early STEM exposure for young girls, who have historically been viewed as disinterested in technology without having enough exposure to make an informed decision.

6. Turn Career Fairs Into Mentoring Fairs

Too often, a career fair or college visit is more résumé collection and handing out corporate brochures and swag. As McGaw states. “You win big by making a personal connection with potential candidates. Ask insightful mentoring questions, listen to people’s needs and key drivers, and give them information about your team or enterprise that will speak to them personally. Impress potential candidates by having one of your top-notch talent-acquisition leaders or hiring managers provide résumé feedback. The gift of time and willingness to invest early-on creates a powerful positive impression.”

7. Don’t Forget the Interview

The chance to make a powerful positive impression also begins with the job interview itself, which is why McGaw recommends including diverse leadership throughout the interviewing process. “Astonishingly, many companies trying to recruit women, minorities, and millennials don’t include these peers in the interview,” she says. “First impressions count on both sides of an interview. Let your diversity shine by being inclusive in the composition of your interviewing teams.”

Natasha Barnes, CISA, is a senior manager in internal audit technology with Protiviti, a global consulting firm. She has provided IT risk and compliance consulting services within both public and private sectors for nearly a decade. Natasha helps her clients optimize their control environments and address evolving IT risks and challenges. She is also a member of ISACA, The IIA, and Women in Technology. Additionally, she co-leads her office’s Women in Technology employee networking group, Gender Equality in Technology and Information Technology (GET IT). She is based in the Washington, D.C., metro area.

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