Recruiting the Class of 2016

Benefits, culture, flexibility most attractive to new grads

By Roy Maurer Jan 25, 2016
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Appealing to what new college graduates wish to experience in their future workplace—strong, two-way communication, a clear career path, flexible work options and personalized development opportunities—will give savvy employers a leg up on the increasing competition for talent on campus.

“It’s crucial that employers are in tune with what today’s graduates want in order to attract top talent in 2016,” said Anne Caldwell, senior human resources manager for National PEO, an HR services outsourcing firm based in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The ability to make an impact, the career development opportunities available and the alignment of company values all matter more to Millennial job searchers than compensation, according to a 2015 study conducted by Futurestep, a Los Angeles-based recruitment process outsourcing firm.

The research shows that today’s young workforce has changed priorities, said Trish Healy, vice president of RPO operations for Futurestep in North America. “Where traditionally we might have expected salary to be the number one differentiator for talent choosing their next employer, Millennials are now placing greater value on understanding what a company stands for and how, as employees, they can play a role in growing the organization into a better, stronger brand.” Organizations need to clearly communicate paths for advancement and “create ongoing dialogue about development opportunities,” as part of the recruiting and onboarding process, Healy added.

Recruiters should emphasize the following attributes to motivate this age group, Caldwell said:

  • Transparent, two-way communication standards and practices that induce a collaborative culture and autonomy among employees.
  • Training, development and mentorship programs.
  • Career-crafting opportunities. “Talk up how employees are able to develop and shape a role that allows them to reach their fullest potential while still aiding the best interests of the company,” Caldwell said.
  • Flexible scheduling and telecommuting.
  • Creative benefits that include company perks that add value to employees’ lives, such as massages or free fitness classes.

Macy’s has personalized the format of recruitment information sessions based on what students have said they want, said Taylor Davis, college relations manager for Macy’s Inc.

“Do students want information pushed to them or do they prefer to network with executives one-on-one? Or is the student profile more hands-on?” she asked. If so, Macy’s recruiters can present a more interactive case or provide a “day-in-the-life” scenario vs. delivering that information in a traditional presentation format.

Macy’s also now offers workshops and presentations on campuses to reach passive candidates.

“The topics … range from hard skills such as business Excel workshops, where we have executives teach students how to analyze data and to be more efficient using the program in an office setting, to workshops on softer skills such as personal branding or high-impact business conversations,” Davis said.

Campus Presence Is Key

Campus recruiting programs provide a continuous opportunity for organizations to promote their employment brand, said Robin Erickson, Ph.D., vice president of talent acquisition research for Bersin by Deloitte. But for this strategy to be effective, campus recruiting programs require a strong relationship with the colleges and universities involved, she said.

Jeff Kudisch, Ph.D., managing director of the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith Office of Career Services, said organizations need to have a consistent campus presence to build awareness, even if it doesn’t have any openings to fill. “A well-run recruiting program requires year-round commitment, planning and support from the business,” Erickson added.

Enterprise recruiters are very high-touch on campus, said Marie Artim, vice president of talent acquisition for St. Louis-based car rental company Enterprise Holdings Inc. “In addition to partnering with career centers and attending the typical events such as career fairs and on-campus interviews, we also develop relationships across campuses to educate people about our organization and find talent. We involve ourselves with targeted student organizations, faculty, staff and even athletic organizations. We also use social media as a way to further engage, educate and connect with these audiences.”

The Futurestep survey revealed that nearly half (42 percent) of survey respondents believe social media is the best way to recruit Millennials, followed by word-of-mouth and networking (28 percent), and online talent communities (19 percent).

Healy recommended employers utilize mobile-optimized career sites and online professional and social communities geared to college-aged candidates that “communicate the culture, values and personality of the company,” to truly connect and engage with this demographic.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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