By Jim Wong, CPA | November 18, 2013


With engineering enrollment at colleges and universities on the rise, there is no shortage of Gen Y talent in the IT sector. However a traditional recruiting approach won’t necessarily work in finding the right person to fulfill your needs.

A challenge in the industry is universities curriculum and teaching methods vary by institution. Some teach a theoretical curriculum, others teach a practical one, and some universities teach both.

“As a potential employer you have to understand the nuances of the universities, the students, and the entire playing field,” says Scott Staples, co-founder and president of Americas at Mindtree, in a recent article on Informationweek.com.

For example, lets say you have two potential candidates with a software engineering degree. It doesn’t mean they have the same set of core skills.

So what is a hiring manager to do?

Staples provides a few tips to help hiring managers find Gen Y talent in the IT industry.

Understand the University Landscape
In order to successfully recruit Generation Y talent, you need to understand universities — their curriculum, programs, and disciplines. “The great debate in engineering schools is whether to teach a theoretical or practical curriculum. The best schools do both, but this is not the case at every university and it can vary from professor to professor within universities,” says Staples.

Understand the Core Skill Sets
“Attracting talent is one thing, but you also need to understand the core skill sets that this talent brings with it and what training is required to fill gaps,” says Staples. He goes on to explain that most graduates don’t understand the software development lifecycle or how to write business applications. If they have no experience in the business world, they also lack soft skills such as communicating and interacting with businesspeople, writing effective e-mails, and even really basic tasks like using Microsoft Office applications.

Be Prepared to Train
Millenials value mentorship and the opportunity to grow within a company. According to Lynda Gratton, Forbescontributor, they place an emphasis on continual learning, regular feedback, and help with developing their career. At face value, what this tells you is you have the opportunity to shape this person, teach them how to be successful within the industry, and mentor them from the ground up. The youth of today are eager to learn and they absorb knowledge quickly.

Final Thoughts
Staples leaves us with some lessons he’s learned along the way when recruiting IT talent:

  • To find great Generation Y talent, have their peers recruit them.
  • Test every candidate to determine his or her knowledge baseline.
  • Address compensation early. “There is a complete misrepresentation of compensation in the market because university professors and the reputation of Silicon Valley have put inaccurate figures in students’ heads,” adds Staples.
  • Create a comfortable environment for them to work in. “Create a ‘Starbuck’s’ work environment (cafes, wall-to-wall whiteboards, bean bag chairs, etc.). This is how they like to work and this type of environment will dramatically increase productivity and collaboration,” adds Staples.
  • Encourage Millenial hires to get involved with industry webinars, and suggest TED talks or YouTube broadcasts you think will be valuable to them. “New graduates bring great energy and are ‘sponges’ for information,” adds Staples.
  • Make sure you have a solid onboarding process and a structured training program to teach them.
  • Look for candidates who have had relevant internships or past work experience, and those who have built things on their own, such as an app for an iPad, mobile, or a game app. “This shows initiative and a better understanding of tools and technologies,” says Staples.

Baby Boomers are beginning to leave the workforce in high numbers, and attracting and retaining top IT talent within the Generation Y demographic continues to be a point of concern for many companies. Hiring managers have to know what to look for in potential candidates in order to find the right fit for their company.


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