Recruiting Young Talent

Recruiting young talent is critical to ensuring any business's growth and sustainability. The success of any organization is often determined by the quality of its workforce, and recruiting young talent is one way to build a solid foundation for the future. Young talent can bring new ideas, fresh perspectives, and innovative solutions to the table, which can help businesses stay competitive in today's rapidly changing business landscape. Successfully recruiting the next generation is 1 of  8 challenges we believe CEOs should be prioritizing right now.

But first of all, before we dive into strategies for recruiting the next generation, let's brush up on what talent recruiting means.

What is Talent Recruiting?

Talent recruiting is the process of identifying, attracting, and selecting qualified candidates for job openings within an organization. It involves finding individuals with the skills, knowledge, and experience required to perform specific roles and functions within the business. Talent recruiting aims to build a talented workforce that can help the organization achieve its objectives.

Why is Talent Recruiting Important?

Talent recruiting is crucial for businesses for several reasons:

  1. It helps organizations remain competitive by ensuring they have the necessary talent and skills to adapt to changing market conditions.
  2. Recruiting young talent can help create a diverse and inclusive workplace, improving creativity and productivity.
  3. The ability to recruit directly impacts a company's ability to scale.

Company growth depends on how well an organization can attract the number of employees necessary to successfully handle larger workloads and operations required to grow the company. If a company struggles to bring new talent into the organization, its growth can become stifled as employees can't keep up with the demands of the business.

Recruiting During Uncertain Times

Success will become dependent on a company's ability to recruit. An organization's recruiting ability will become increasingly important as the US continues to experience a worker shortage. Not to mention a large portion of the workers the US does have are aging out of the workforce in waves. Leaders must become very good at engaging and recruiting younger workers in upcoming years.

AMBAC Marketplace Data-2


Businesses everywhere are experiencing difficulty with hiring as job openings grow and participating workforce numbers dwindle. For example, a manufacturing company in South Carolina, AMBAC International, was experiencing an unemployment rate of 4.5%. They were specifically looking for machinists, an essential core skill for their business. The expected job growth for a machinist in South Carolina from 2016-2026 was 13.6%. At first glance, that looked like a terrible prospect for hiring people with more jobs available than people in the marketplace. 

However, this company takes great pride in its culture. As CEO of AMBAC International, Robert Isherwood, shares in this video"There is never a talent shortage IF you're a great place to work." In other words, people will find you if your company has done the work in creating a place where people want to be. He found a way to make his company stand out so much that his organization developed a waiting list for people wanting to work with the company.

There is never a talent shortage IF youre a great place to work.

Leaders can proactively take many steps to ensure their organization remains attractive to prospective candidates. Below we've listed general best practices and tips from the pros like Robert Isherwood on attracting talent to your company.


How to Attract Young Talent 

1. Have a Higher Purpose

Create a purpose or mission statement for your company. Everyone wants to feel like they're making a difference, and giving your business a higher purpose helps employees realize the importance of their work. Understanding this importance allows employees to better appreciate what the organization offers. It gives them a greater connection to the company and helps fuel their passion for their work. Establishing a higher purpose will also bring more qualified candidates to your doorstep. If your company can identify who they are and what they stand for, people with similar interests and values will naturally be attracted to your organization. For example, AMBAC International provides heavy-duty fuel injection systems to its customers. Hence, their higher purpose is about how they "fuel" the work of their hometown heroes in need of power components. Some of their purpose statements include messages like "Our products power those that protect and serve the people we love" and "Everyone has a chance to be happy, healthy, and wealthy." 

2. Provide Opportunities for Professional Development

Millennials want professional and personal growth opportunities that expand their talents and knowledge. You can offer this by providing opportunities for employees to attend training and development programs, conferences, seminars, online certifications, and networking opportunities. Mentorship programs can also be an effective way to help young talent develop their skills and knowledge. If you can show candidates these opportunities during the interview process and beyond, you'll be more effective when recruiting.

3. Offer Competitive Salaries and Benefits

The younger generation often looks for opportunities that offer quality work, good pay, health benefits, retirement plans, and other perks. One of the most important ways to attract young talent is to offer competitive salaries and benefits. However, don't put your business at risk by trying to keep up with the highest-paying wages in the industry. The critical thing to remember is to always pay people FAIRLY. Not all companies can keep up with the shiny sign-on bonuses and big salaries, but organizations should always pay people what they're worth. Match fair pay with great work, competitive benefits, and healthy workplace culture, and you have a combination that will attract and retain quality candidates.

4. Prioritize Work-Life Balance

Creating a culture that values healthy work-life balance can help your company stand out in the recruiting process. Millennials want to work for organizations that value their health and well-being, and they're looking for work they can enjoy. The younger generation is more concerned with their overall job satisfaction, work-life balance, and general happiness than with the dollar amount of their paycheck. Establishing a workplace culture with this kind of balance will make your company more attractive than the competition. Prioritizing work-life balance isn't only suitable for your organization as an employee attraction tool, but it can also reap many benefits for the production of the company and the overall health of your employees. Workplaces with healthy work-life balance typically see that productivity is higher, employees miss less work, and physical and mental health is improved, allowing employees to demonstrate higher levels of focus and motivation at work.

5. Ditch The Childish HR Policies

When you're recruiting top-notch talent, consider ditching the HR rules. If you as an employer, believe you're hiring the best of the best, then why have a list of rules that should go without being said? You can build a lot of trust in an organization by treating employees like adults and allowing them to make their own decisions. AMBAC has fully embraced this thinking, and their organization has no employee policy or HR manual. However, they do have guidelines, and within those guidelines is the assumption that all associates will use good judgment and do the right thing. One of the core values inside the company is to "do the right thing." They even go as far as to tell employees, "if you need to deviate from a policy to achieve one of our core values or protect a customer, do it." They also have eliminated what they call "HR childish rules" – or, in other words, strict uniform policies or complicated approval processes for simple things. They believe that the people they've hired are great people. They're trustworthy, and they're going to use good judgment. So they don't need to be managed. 

6. Embrace Technology

Young talent is often tech-savvy and impatient regarding inefficient processes that could be simplified through technology. Businesses should invest in technology that can help streamline operations, improve communication, and enhance productivity. Providing the latest hardware and software tools can help attract young talent, improve automation, and allow innovation.

7. Create a Positive Work Environment

Creating a positive work environment is essential for attracting and retaining young talent. Businesses should strive to develop a culture of respect, collaboration, and inclusivity. They should also provide a work environment that is comfortable and conducive to productivity. Establishing open lines of communication and building trust in the organization is also essential when building a positive workplace. Avoid micromanaging and trust employees to get the job done on their one. Establish regular cadences for rewarding and recognizing employees who go the extra mile. Recognizing employees for big and small wins helps foster appreciation in the workplace. Regular team-building activities can also foster a positive work culture.

8. Use Social Media to Promote the Company's Brand

Social media is a powerful tool for promoting a company's brand and attracting young talent. Businesses can use social media platforms to showcase their company culture, share success stories, and provide insights into what it's like to work for the organization. They can also use social media to post job openings and attract candidates who have not heard about the opportunity.

9. Create An Ownership Culture

Creating an ownership culture means establishing a workplace where ownership is held broadly throughout the company – meaning employees think like owners and feel a sense of ownership in the work they're doing every day. Creating ownership committees (teams involved in setting the pace of the organization and making improvements )to include employees in the process of creating the company's culture is a great way to improve the psychological ownership of your organization. Ownership committees are NOT party planners. These committees are comprised of employees from all levels of the organization, and they're volunteering their time to actively involve themselves in the management of the company. They determine the gain share bonus program each year and the capital plan strategy, payroll budgets, etc. Providing employees with a deeper understanding of how their job impacts the company's financial performance is also a great way to create psychological ownership and accountability in the organization. ESOP companies also have a huge advantage when it comes to building a culture of ownership. ESOP companies should prioritize educating their employee owners on their stock options and how their daily performance influences the company's stock price.

10. Establish Core Values and Make Decisions Based on Those Values

Establish a set of shared values and a core purpose, and make decisions based on those values –even when it hurts. Doing so will make your culture so much stronger. When companies stick to their values, they create a workplace employees are much more passionate about, they build brand loyalty amongst customers, and they create opportunity to stand out from the competition when recruiting. Values are something Robert Isherwood feels very strongly about, stating that "when we [AMBAC] have to turn down business or somebody doesn't fit with the culture or something like that, we have to. You have to make the tough calls. And that's something I think is very important to enforce–those standards."


In this video, Great Game of Business practitioner and CEO of AMBAC International, Robert Isherwood, describes how at a time when recruiting is more complicated than ever, he's created a recruiting process that has generated a waiting list of people that want to work with the company.


Recruiting (and Marketing) is your best competitive advantage

A company's competitive advantage lies in maintaining a sought-after culture. Great companies are made of great people, and businesses with the best talent will always have the upper hand. That's why it's imperative to have a strategy for creating a work environment that brings employees to you! As Robert Isherwood, CEO of AMBAC International, says, "Recruiting IS corporate strategy."

So, how do you create a company culture that attracts talent? Below, we've listed actions Robert Isherwood says business professionals can take to transform their company into a great place to work. Once you've established a great work culture, the next part is to market your company, so people are aware of your organization and what you have to offer.


Steps for recruiting and marketing from Robert Isherwood


1. Actually be a GREAT place to work

Don't just talk about being a great place to work; commit to actually being a great place to work. Do the hard work. Take the necessary steps to get your company there. This might involve tackling a few of the items listed above, such as creating a positive work environment, emphasizing the importance of employees maintaining a healthy work-life balance, providing career growth and development opportunities to employees, etc.

2. Invite people to your huddles, company celebrations, events

Once you achieve your goal of truly becoming a great place to work, start inviting people into the organization to see what the culture is all about. Since Robert Isherwood plays The Great Game of Business in his organization, he has several natural opportunities to invite people into the organization to observe, such as huddles. Huddles are company-wide meetings where the organization forecasts financial information and makes plans on how they can improve that financial performance. Another great way to invite people into the company is to invite employees' family members to company celebrations and events! For an individual, family member, or peer who's never seen a company open its books and share real-time and forward-forecasting financial numbers with their employees, this can be very interesting to take in.

3. Build the community around your company

Get your local community involved with your business as much as possible. This could include working with local suppliers and vendors, giving back to the community, or inviting employees' families to see what the company is doing first-hand. Over time you will build a significant amount of community support for your organization. You'll also develop a channel for word-of-mouth marketing where the community will start sending job-seeking locals to your organization.

4. Tell your stories to the world

Share all the good stories happening within your company! Create publicity for your organization – it will help connect you with prospective candidates. Sharing stories could look like creating a post for social media, creating press releases, or applying for a Great Place to Work Award, where you share some of the great things happening inside your organization.

5. Great players can (and will) only work with other great players

Great people want to work with other great people. When you're truly a great place to work, the great players in your community and industry will start seeking you out. Highly-skilled talent will seek out high-performing teams in their area.


Best Practices For Recruiting, Interviewing, and Developing Talent

Hire What The Team Needs By Having Tools and Processes For Recruiting

When starting the recruiting process, first, you must ensure you're hiring what the team needs. Start by gathering a team base of 3-5 people (in the department you're hiring for), and together create a profile definition of what the job requires (skills and work style characteristics that would appear on a resume). Involving team members in identifying skills and traits the new hire should possess helps ensure the team feels invested in the success of the new hire. After determining the definition of the profile, post your job listing, and start looking at potential candidates. 

The next step is to use a tool to make identifying the right candidate easier. Shaun Bradley, Vistage Chair, once said, "The most important decision you'll ever make is who you let in the door." That's why using a tool that can help you determine the right candidate through measurable data is essential. Robert Isherwood uses a tool called the predictive index. This tool is designed to help leaders hire the right person every time. It helps identify the right person for a role by providing measurable behavioral targets and assessing and ranking each applicant's fit based on the job they applied for.

Talent Optimization Leader - The Predictive Index

Create A Recruiting Value Proposition

A recruiting value proposition is a compelling, memorable, believable story that tells your ideal candidate why they should work with your organization. It's essentially a well-thought-out elevator pitch used to win over candidates.

To create a recruiting value position, start by asking yourself:

  • What does the company offer potential candidates as an overt benefit? 
  • What dramatic difference does the company provide to the candidate?
  • What reason does the candidate have to believe in the difference?
  • And then, who is the company's ideal candidate?

Since one of AMBAC's overt benefits is that the company is open-book, they show potential hires in the interview process their current cash position. They follow that up by asking the candidate, "As you're looking to work at other companies, how many other CEOs will sit down with you and explain their current cash position to you?" Below, we've shared what AMBAC International's example of a recruiting value proposition looks like.


Recruiting Value Proposition

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Develop People Through A Personal SWOT Analysis

In an effort to retain talent, start developing the people you have through a personal SWOT analysis. People want growth opportunities and a SWOT analysis is a great way for leaders to determine where employees are at, where they want to go, and a plan to help employees reach their career goals.

A personal SWOT analysis is a great replacement for annual reviews. The typical process for giving annual employee reviews can be uncomfortable, leaving employees feeling embarrassed and discouraged. It's ineffective for both the person being appraised and the appraiser. A personal SWOT analysis is  where an individual will, through their own self-reflection, determine their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Employees also determine their goals for their career (their goals may or may not include your company, and that's totally acceptable).

This analysis serves as a moment for management to do some succession planning (identifying the critical positions within your organization and developing action plans for individuals to assume those positions). This also helps inform management on what kind of work they should give employees to help develop them in the areas the employee is most passionate about and where employees may need some growth opportunities. Some employees may have a goal to get to a leadership position, whereas some employees may want to further develop skills. But having employees annually fill out a personal SWOT analysis provides leaders with the data they need to strategically develop their teams.


Only Hire The Right People – Say NO!

Only hire the right people. And in this marketplace, that can be really difficult. As Justin Bontkes, Principal of Caliber Projects said, "When you can't find the right person, don't compromise – turn away the customer instead." This idea sounds completely insane, however leaders have to remember that they don't always have to take on new business. As Robert Isherwood said, "As a leader of a company, your job is to take care of the people. The people take care of the customer. The customer takes care of the profits. That's how it works." Never compromise with a new candidate and bring in somebody that will be a poor fit for the team because that's not taking care of your people. When experiencing a people shortage, challenge your team to get more creative with their processes instead of bringing in a random person off the street. Often more efficient processes can be born out of times when people are really challenged to get the job done. The more selective you are with candidates, the better your talent pool gets. 


Using The Great Game of Business To Attract Talent

The Great Game of Business is a growth system designed to build healthy companies, better businesses, and better lives. Typically companies choose to implement The Great Game of Business system in their organizations to drive profitability and employee engagement or to scale the company. However, many companies have started leveraging The Great Game of Business as an employee attraction tool. AMBAC International is just one example of a company using open-book management processes o attract talent. Another example is the Jaybro Group.

Jaybro Group is a full-service supplier of consumables, safety, geosynthetic fabrics, temporary fencing, and barriers to infrastructure and construction sector in Australia and New Zealand. The company employs over 250 employees based in multiple offices and warehouses across Australia and New Zealand. The culture at Jaybro has also become a magnet for talent.

In April 2021, Jaybro received an award that made official what everyone at Jaybro already believed. Jaybro was officially certified as a great workplace by the Global Authority, Great Place to Work®—an organization recognizing the best places to work in Australia for over 14 years.

"Being a Great Place to Work gives us an advantage as we continue to attract the best talent and build brand recognition in the civil and infrastructure supply sector," says Alison Passey, Jaybro's Group HR Manager. "The employees who are an excellent fit for our culture remain with us for longer, are happier, and are more engaged in their work because they have found their 'tribe.'"

At a time when most workplaces are suffering from a lack of engagement, 90% of Jabybro employees surveyed in the Great Place to Work application process self-reported that Jaybro was indeed a great place to work.

JAYBRO (R)  image - happy-productive

To win their prestigious award, Jaybro leveraged a bit of a secret weapon to help build that highly engaged and motivated workforce - The Great Game of Business®.They even created a video to show how the principles and practices of The Great Game of Business have become part of the Jaybro culture—something they now use to recruit new employees.

"The Great Game of Business has helped us go to the next level," says Passey. "By playing The Game, our people genuinely feel connected to the core of the business. Everyone feels like they're part of the strategy for growth."

The team's biggest challenge in implementing Great Game, Passey says, was convincing the staff of the why behind The Game. It wasn't until the team earned a Level 7 Stake in the Outcome gainshare check—which was 5.75% of their pay—that they genuinely bought in. "That was really important to winning the hearts and minds of the frontline employees," says Passey. "When a warehouse worker earns an extra $3,000 in pay," she says, "it has great impact and develops meaning."

In Conclusion

In conclusion, recruiting young talent is critical for the success of any business. To attract the best candidates, businesses must create a great workplace culture, offer fair salaries and competitive benefits, and provide opportunities for professional development. Young talent often looks for a workplace where they feel trusted and valued, and The Great Game of Business offers this kind of workplace by trusting people with company financial information and empowering them to use their unique skills and talents to improve financial performance. But this is just one of the reasons this business operating system is attractive to the younger generation.

Open-book management and The Great Game of Business are attractive to young talent looking for work for several reasons. Firstly, these approaches emphasize transparency and communication, which align with the values of many young workers who prioritize authenticity and openness in the workplace. Secondly, they promote a culture of collaboration and participation, which can appeal to those who want to be engaged and have a sense of ownership in their work. Thirdly, they provide opportunities for learning and development, as employees are encouraged to understand and contribute to the company's financial performance – thus providing purpose in their work and a deep understanding of how their work makes an impact every day. Lastly, open-book management and The Great Game of Business can lead to financial rewards and recognition for employees, which is essential for many younger workers seeking opportunities for advancement and financial stability.

Overall, these approaches offer a dynamic and engaging work environment that appeals to the aspirations and values of the younger generation. By taking these steps, businesses can build a talented workforce to help them achieve their goals and objectives.


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Create a recruiting value proposition to use while you're interviewing new candidates for your organization! A recruiting value proposition is a compelling, memorable, believable story that tells your ideal candidate why they should work with your organization. It's essentially a well-thought-out elevator pitch used to win over candidates.