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5 Tips for Finding & Hiring Generation Y Talent (During the Recession)

yGeneration Y’ers don’t like strict organizations, but they do like iPods and wearing flip-flops to work. Apparently.

But it’s hard to remember–we haven’t heard a lot about them recently. A few short years ago businesses were worried about how they could find, hire, inspire, and retain Gen Y’ers.  Worried headlines asked what the future would look like with a transient, pleasure-seeking, generation interviewing for jobs they didn’t even want. Now, look up “Generation Y” in any news feed and you’ll get outlandish stories (How Generation Y Can End Hunger) and obvious ones (Gen Y: The Social Innovation Generation).

Sadly, after a long, hard, recession the only newsworthy headlines Gen Y’ers are grabbing these days are depressing ones. Gen Y’ers are now being referred to as the “Lost Generation“–or, the generation that would like to work, but can’t find any.

As a result finding, hiring, inspiring, and retaining Gen Y employees will be less challenging for companies across the country. However, locating the perfect fit is still just as hard, especially as more options exist. I’d suggest that leaders and companies looking to find inspired Generation Y talent should consider some of the following ideas:

1. Use Social Media: Create a company profile on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc. and post available jobs. Top Gen Y talent will find you and reach out. Proactive job-seekers on social media sites are not only energetic, but in tune with current technology and social media trends.

2. Develop a Solid Internship Program: Gen Y’ers will work on a part-time, no-pay, basis for a few months–and they don’t just have to be college students. Make sure you set clear expectations, goals, and plans for any intern. Remember to treat an internship like an apprenticeship. This means you should actively try to coach interns and help them learn a new skill or point them in the right career path. Interns aren’t just there to make coffee and copies.

3. Recruit Generation Y’ers on a Part-time Basis First: Use sites like and to find part time employees with specific skill-sets you need. Hire them on a part-time or project basis and make sure they can produce the results you want. It’s a great way to start a relationship and judge how excited someone is to work with your company. Don’t be afraid to use your personal networks as well to find seasonal or project-orientated help.

4. Look at Resumes Carefully: Obviously Gen Y’ers haven’t had the chance to earn tons of work experience, but make sure they were proactive when they had free time. If they took a year off to travel find out if they were just partying or if they were taking a few language classes. You want to make sure you find someone who likes to keep busy and who can achieve goals independently. Just because Gen Y’ers are expected to take a year off doesn’t mean they should waste a year.

5. Ask for a Portfolio: Gen Y talent are comfortable with computers and they should have a few papers, homework assignments, or independent projects on hand when you call them in for an interview. Ask to see a relevant portfolio from the people you interview. If you were looking for an Assistant Marking Manager make sure you ask all candidates to show you some previous writing samples or ask them to create a few ideas in order to see what skills they have or don’t have. This counts for a lot, especially as a lot of Gen Y’ers don’t have many professional references.



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