In Pursuit of Top Talent in the Digital Era

Remember what recruiting talent was like during the Great Recession? In 2008 and 2009, hiring topnotch professionals involved little more than spreading the word among your staff and waiting for choice candidates to roll in.

Fast-forward several years, and recruiting young, bright employees is markedly more difficult. The job market has rebounded over the last five years, recruitment tools have evolved and more young job candidates are using new media to access job information. That means, as an HR specialist, you won’t attract competitive young talent by waiting for millennials to find you. You must be proactive, creative and tenacious in your pursuit of the people who best fit your culture.

Here are some tips for attracting the best employees.

Control your brand

Your company projects an image to the outside world whether you want it to or not. In the eyes of talent in your field, yours is the company that’s … what? That’s stable but a little stodgy? Friendly but a bit dreary? State of the art? Hip? Doing leading-edge work? If you don’t decide what your company’s brand will be, the outside world will define it for you.

The strength of your brand determines how much you’ll need to sell your company to top talent. Do you want to be seen as the type of company younger candidates will strive to join? If so, determine what you must do to elicit their passion. That might involve decisions regarding management style and work attire, or the design of your graphics and the look and feel of your office spaces.

And yes, your people will talk. Your employees can be your primary source of leads—or the grumblers that keep top talent away. So if you have morale problems, address them – before they become recruiting problems.

Sell the relationship

It’s been said in sales that prospects don’t buy what you’re selling; they buy you. That’s equally true of your applicants. Job candidates who can be choosy choose to connect with a company that stokes their passions. They want to feel an emotional connection, and the only evidence of that is in how they connect with you and others from your firm from the initial point of contact through the interview process. First impressions mean everything. Let the candidate see your human side and the humanity of your company.

At Wiss, we post bios of team members so applicants can “meet” those they’ll be working with. A longer-term plan is to post video introductions to the organization and the people who work here.

Use social media — and not just to recruit

Millennial professionals are active on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, as well as Facebook and LinkedIn and some sites you may not have heard of. They’re job-hunting on their phones.

If you’re not of the social media/digital technology generation, consult associates who are to ensure your messages are appropriate and engaging for social media platforms – and that your communications are reaching the intended audience.

And don’t only use new media when you need to fill a position. Maintain a day-to-day presence online and on social media to stay in touch with millennials who work in your field, making them aware of your business. This will help you build a pool of potential employees long before you need them. We’ve showcased the Wiss brand by posting photos of our redesigned spaces and from firm events, which we believe will appeal to our target job candidates.

Stay adaptable

Some of your hiring strategies will work and others will fall flat. Use metrics to test every approach. Measure everything from keywords used in job titles and descriptions to which platforms deliver the best candidates. Determine which approaches pull in the most relevant audience and which attract the wrong candidates — or none at all. Then replicate the winners, dump the losers and share your findings across your organization.

Create a more efficient hiring process

While it’s important to take the time to ensure your candidate is the right cultural fit for your company, talented candidates won’t be available for long given the tight job market. Waiting too long to make a hiring decision can cost you your top choices as they tire of waiting and take positions with your competitors.

To ensure you get your top candidate, include the right people in the interview process from the beginning; in the current job market, the best candidates may not be available for second and third interviews that are drawn out for weeks, or even months. Once you have found the right person, take immediate steps to lock that person in so he or she doesn’t take a position elsewhere.

Attracting top-tier millennial candidates in a competitive economy can be a challenge, but it’s one that’s well worth the effort.

Lisa Calick is Director of Human Resources at Wiss. If you have any questions, please contact Lisa at or 973.994.9400.

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