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Advice for Attracting & Retaining Young Talent

Nearly half of the American workforce will be made up of millennials by next year (they’re at 35 percent right now). That’ll be 46 percent of the workforce that’s ambitious, tech-savvy, and socially responsible. These traits will have a positive impact on your company, but only if you can attract and retain young talent.

Many companies struggle to attract, retain and motivate millennials and other young talent. Mainly because a millennial’s attitude towards work and careers differs from previous generations. What millennials want from their jobs has changed, and they’re no longer looking for a single job they can have for 20+ years.

Here are some ways IT staffing teams can attract, retain, and motivate young talent.

Optimize the Hiring Process for Millennials

The way millennials grew up with and use technology has changed the way companies hire. Because they’re so tech-savvy, you’ve got to speak to candidates in their language and at their speed. The IT job market is highly competitive, so good candidates don’t stay on the market long.

One area millennials are keenly aware of is communication. They grew up online and being always available, so a “black box” hiring process where decisions and status updates are hidden are red flags for them.

Millennial hiring tips:

  • Calculate how long your hiring process takes, from the job posting through to onboarding. Optimize it as necessary.
  • Reduce the number of in-person interviews needed. Instead of bringing someone in four times, try a group interview.
  • Consider using an applicant tracking system to handle the entire hiring process. Millennials will appreciate the fact you’re using technology to manage the process and the visibility it gives them into it.
  • Create an onboarding process for new hires. The transition into a new role can be a challenge for anyone, so having a clear onboarding process can help. Everyone involved, from the hiring manager to new colleagues to the new employee, will appreciate the clear direction.

Make Benefits Millennial-friendly

Instead of the Gen X benefits of ping pong tables and beer fridges at the office, millennials are looking at the bigger benefit picture. Company benefits are becoming very relevant influencers of a millennial’s decision to accept your job offer.

Yes, they’re looking for job stability, but also family leave programs, flexible work schedules and remote work opportunities, exercise and fitness programs, and more. Most importantly, this generation puts a high emphasis on the effects of work on mental health, so they’ll be looking for health benefits that will help with that.

Millennial hiring tips:

  • Encourage work-life balance through flexible work options, robust family and personal leave programs, exercise and fitness programs, and more.
  • Offer a variety of wellness programs so they can curate their own routine, whether it’s a gym membership subsidy, access to in-person and phone counseling, or something else specific to your location and company.
  • Offer top-ups to government-mandated leave programs such as Family and Medical Leave, so employees are set up for success in their personal lives too and have a broader vision for what their future can look like outside of work.
  • Highlight your retirement programs and any savings programs you may offer. Millennials are aware of the need to prepare for the future and are very active about it. Forty-five percent of millennials have a retirement account, and 33 percent are actively contributing to it, according to an Insider and Morning Consult survey.

Give Employees Room to Grow 

Millennials are no less ambitious than previous generations, but their priorities have evolved; the traditional “success” markers of adulthood no longer apply. Instead, millennials want their work to make a positive impact on their community or society. They want to travel and see the world.


Companies that promote learning and development opportunities will have a better chance to motivate and retain their millennial employees. Ask them what learning options they’d like to see and discuss the availability with upper management. Some millennials might prefer live events like conferences and trade shows, while others might prefer online learning and webinars.

Millennial hiring tips:

  • Clearly highlight the growth opportunities in your job postings and outline the growth lifecycle in any conversations or interviews with candidates.
  • Mention the education possibilities at your company, such as mentorship opportunities, continuing education, and live events.
  • Offer education reimbursement. Many millennials are suffering under crushing student loan debts, so offering to reimburse them for their education shows you really understand their exact needs.

Demonstrate Your Mission

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is essential for millennials. When evaluating a potential employer, 64 percent of millennials wouldn’t work for one that doesn’t have strong CSR commitments. Millennials want to be an active participant in the social work of their employers, so sharing these same values are essential for your company to attract and retain them.

Millennial hiring tips:

  • Provide paid volunteer time to employees so they can participate in causes that are near and dear to them.
  • Host volunteer events at the office, but don’t make them mandatory. This demonstrates the company’s philanthropic message while leaving participation up to employees. After all, nobody likes to be forced to donate time or money to a cause.
  • Sponsor charitable events or causes that align with the corporate mission and share your efforts online. It’s vital to showcase your efforts to millennials, to both current and potential employees, so they can see what causes you champion.

Appreciate the Millennial Perspective 

The best way to attract and retain millennial employees is to understand their values and priorities. – And do it sincerely and genuinely. Prove to them that your company is in complete alignment with those factors and showcase it wherever you can. Creating a culture that matches the millennial “outlook” will ultimately help your company thrive today and in the future.

Millennials are ambitious, tech-savvy, and social responsible people. Attracting and retaining them is a challenge for companies who aren’t ready for them. The same old hiring processes and benefits package just won’t work anymore.

For more help on how to attract, retain, and motivate young talent at your IT company, take a look at our No Hassle Guide to Talent Acquisition.


Veanne Smith

Co-CEO & Co-Founder


Veanne Smith serves as the co-CEO and co-founder of SOLTECH – Atlanta’s premier software development, technology consulting and IT staffing firm.

Prior to founding SOLTECH, Veanne spent more than 10 years in the technology industry, where she leveraged her software development and project management skills to attain executive leadership responsibilities for a growing national technology consulting firm. She is passionate about building mutually beneficial long-term relationships, growing businesses, and helping people achieve their personal life goals via rewarding employment opportunities.

Outside of SOLTECH, Veanne is considered a thought leader in Atlanta’s IT community. Currently, she serves on the Advisory Board for The College of Computing and Software Engineering at Kennesaw State University. In addition, Veanne helped launch the AxIO Advisory Council, has been a member of Vistage for 20 years, and created Atlanta Business Impact Radio – a podcast that showcases some of Atlanta’s most innovative businesses and technology professionals.

As an influential figure in the technology and IT staffing industry, Veanne consistently produces insightful articles that address both the opportunities and challenges in IT staffing. Through her writing, she offers valuable tips and advice to businesses seeking to hire technical talent, as well as individuals searching for new opportunities.

She holds a degree in Computer Science from Illinois State University.

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