Written by
Changeboard Team

Published
19 Feb 2015

How are you attracting top talent?

19 Feb 2015 • by Changeboard Team

Attracting the next generation

Millennials who are already emerging as leaders will comprise 75% of the global workforce by 2025, according to Deloitte’s Millennial Survey 2014. This is simply a stat that flashes “alert!”, especially for businesses with flaky or perhaps historic graduate campaign methodologies.

Generation Y is not going anywhere and there is a revolution happening right under our noses. Top graduates have top opportunities and your ability to attract, engage and retain these prized gems will make or help break your organisation in future years.

Blending graduate attraction campaigns with your standard talent acquisition and management strategies is a massive faux pas. To attract the best needs a completely different approach underpinned by an impressive talent brand strategy.

It is all about talking their talk and walking their walk – they want to work with people like them and do not care for the corporate websites, power suits or false promises. Millennials seek transparency, leadership, CSR and lots of career growth to name but a few things, according to a recent Forbes article. 

Generation Y takes no prisoners

Social media is, and will continue to be, a business-critical element of successful campaigns and requires an allocated budget. Smooth application processes, dedicated graduate portals, video testimonials, online gaming, Twitter feeds, live chats with graduate ambassadors, Instagram campaigns, through to ongoing long-term relationships with targeted business schools is key in achieving your vision and organisational goals – it just depends on your audience.

Some of the best include: EY, Deloitte, Unilever, Thales Group and Westpac Group.

Meanwhile, assess your current strategy as there will be here and now changes you can make. For example, if you have a social media presence, are you adding insights on a regular basis (ie: events, competitions and photos through to holding live chats with graduates by your graduate ambassadors)? Also, how is your graduate experience looking? The process from attract to retain and reject should be seamless, so why not arrange a workshop with your team today to touchpoint map the journey? Simply map out every point and grade yourselves from one to 10. I guarantee that, using this simple approach, you will move in the right direction.

Or perhaps you are about to hold a large open day. Rather than arranging the interviews yourself, use free applications such as Eventbrite, which allows graduates to book in their own interview – it saves time and admin for both parties.

Finally, remember, being different does not make you mavericks – it means you are unmistakable. 

Internship insights

InternsME is the UAE’s first and largest video CV employment network, connecting employers to students and new graduates seeking internships, traineeships and full-time entry-level jobs.

“Employers can watch a one-minute video introduction of each candidate before inviting them for an interview,” explains CEO Jean-Michel Gauthier.

He adds: “Our candidates are based in the UAE, have valid student or parent visas, are familiar with the region, can take up temp or full-time assignments and are ready to begin immediately.” The network’s long-term aim is to become the platform of choice for talent from the region to land their first internship or job and decrease reliance on overseas hiring. 

Engaging with young talent

Gauthier says InternsME has ensured its brand, platform and engagement campaigns resonate. “We speak to everyone who registers on our portal as part of a five to 10-minute screening process. This builds rapport and later helps in matching the right candidates with appropriate opportunities. We have formal partnerships with more than 40 universities, working with careers advisors, attending careers fairs, hosting workshops and events centred on students and graduates.” 

Selling the benefits

“The employment landscape is highly competitive for graduates. Internships provide valuable experience and give candidates their first real opportunity to understand what employers are seeking,” says Gauthier.

Data in Bloomberg Businessweek showed candidates applying for a full-time position with one internship or more under their belt more than double the chances of succeeding compared with those who haven’t interned. “We’ve put hundreds of interns and trainees in SMEs and multinationals, with many converting to full-time positions. We have more than 15,000 active registered candidates on our portal.”

Recruitment headaches

To attract young talent, Gauthier emphasises the importance of establishing a strong employer brand proposition and adapting your approach to this talent pool versus experienced job seekers. He adds: “If you cannot answer why you’re a great company to start a career at, it becomes very difficult to appeal to someone of high calibre.

A recent survey we conducted on more than 200 SMEs indicated that many companies also lack accessibility to said candidates.

“The public sector remains very much focused on attracting national talent, whereas the private sector’s attraction campaigns are of a broader spectrum.”

National questions

There remains a benchmark expectation in terms of salary among UAE nationals but InternsME is seeing much higher interest in opportunities that offer strong training and development, career paths and hospitable work environments.

Gauthier says: “Organisations need to adapt or grow their talent development infrastructure and feature this when reaching out to nationals. There should be a focus on the organisation’s internal success stories.

“Organisations must create a sense of purpose to work – what’s the greater cause, the impact being made and why should young talent be part of the effort? Continuous training, development and clear career paths massively contribute towards retaining talent.”

In terms of developing InternsME’s offering to nationals, a web platform is being built for Emirati students and graduates, which will have unique features to help match candidates with prospective employers. Gauthier says: “We’re also developing partnerships with key institutions and semi-governmental entities to help meet the UAE’s nationalisation targets. We aim to roll this out during the next six to 12 months.”

He goes on to paint a picture of what the talent landscape could look like in the future, saying: “The population of students in higher education is growing by about 10% year on year, more courses are becoming available and more institutions are set to open in the coming years. While the job market is growing, we are likely to see stronger talent emerge as a result of more competition.”

Case studies: Emirates

Emirates strives to be the employer of choice for UAE nationals by engaging in their successful recruitment, development, progression and retention.

The national recruitment division in the group includes a team of more than 35 people who recruit and provide training for the purposes of UAE development.

The following statistics show how many employees are UAE nationals and spotlight the roles they carry out at the organisation:   

  • UAE nationals represent 11% of the company’s workforce 
  • Young people account for 34% of UAE national employees (as of 16 August 2014)
  • 24% of senior management are UAE nationals
  • 13% of middle management are UAE nationals

Emirates recruits 700 to 800 national young people each financial year, and most of its yearly intake comprises fresh graduates from high school or universities to feed its development programmes such as:

  • National Cadet Pilot Programme
  • National Aircraft Engineering Programme
  • National Aviation Management Programme
  • National IT School Graduates Programme
  • National IT Graduates Programme
  • National School Graduate Programme
  • National Cabin Crew Programme
  • National Diploma Graduate Programme
  • National Graduate Trainee Programme
  • National Commercial Outstation Programme

The company’s brand name helps to attract young people but highlighting the opportunities is paramount. This is achieved through different communications channels such as newspapers, radio, cinema, social media, website banners, jobs fairs, open days, school and university visits.

To ensure Emirates is an employer of choice, the company offers prospective employees structured programmes with a clear progression path, and provides academic support to those wishing to pursue higher education during their career with Emirates.

It also offers development support to those who wish to upskill, and upgrades existing programmes to bachelor’s degree level to attract more nationals. When it comes to the challenge of retaining young nationals, Emirates makes sure it keeps in close contact with the management of the relevant section on issues that deter nationals from continuing to work with it, says Amira Al Awadhi, vice-president at the organisation’s national recruitment and development division. “The same applies for career progression concerns and we always try to initiate new programmes and development opportunities.”

Al Awadhi adds: “We are one of the few organisations with a NRD department of 35 staff to look after the recruitment and development of nationals.”

The department has a lot of initiatives when it comes to new enrolment, such as national induction when joining, a Bedayati programme, which means “my start” in Arabic, and is a transition course to deliver working ethics, guidance on attendance and punctuality, and business writing and email advice. Every new joiner will have a one-year development plan that consists of 70% on-the-job objectives, 20% coaching and 10% classroom courses. Finally, there is a mentoring programme where people can learn from senior employees and share concerns.

On the subject of talented national graduates’ motivations when seeking employment, Emirates has found career development, salary and benefits and the quality of training are top priorities. When asked what the organisation’s advice would be to other organisations seeking to attract and retain top national talent, Al Awadhi says: “They need to provide structured development programmes with clear objectives and career paths. Those need to be unique.

“We are seeking to take things a step further in attracting the best graduate Emiratis by approaching their talents while they are still at schools and universities.”

Case study: McKinsey

McKinsey has more than 19,000 employees worldwide, with a significant proportion of its new consultants being new graduates. “We recruit more than 2,000 consultants a year, so tend to remain a fairly young organisation,” says Rahul Agarwal, head of recruiting in its Middle East office.

He adds: “We want people to know three main things when they are considering McKinsey as a career choice. Firstly, you will work on real challenges that are top-of-mind for leaders of governments and organisations. Our clients come to us with complex issues that are critical to their organisations.

“Secondly, we will invest in you and help you grow to your potential. Finally, you will work in a team-inspired environment, with people from a diversity of backgrounds, and an incredible level of support. For example, one in 10 firm members is a knowledge professional working with our clients and consultants.”

In terms of tailoring the company’s offering to the Middle East, the organisations director of staff Anabel Fall says: “We operate as one global firm, so what we offer to young graduates is pretty consistent around the world. We’re lucky to be in possibly the world’s most vibrant region, and people are intrigued by what’s going on in Middle East economies.

“Our regional recruiting team goes all over the world, including Singapore, India, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, France, the UK and the US. As a result, the Middle East practice is one of the most diverse in the firm. We count citizens from nearly 50 countries among our people.

“We maintain a high-touch relationship at schools, where we recruit extensively, and our Middle East-based people share with students and other candidates how McKinsey has been a springboard for them, how it’s helped them take their careers and lives to another level.”

To ensure the firm is an employer of choice among candidates, McKinsey’s approach is straight-forward. Agarwal says: “We share the facts and hope they tell the story. There is a tremendous emphasis on development and training and we invest more than $100 million every year on training programmes.

“You gain access to an alumni network of the highest calibre – we have more than 28,000 alumni, with 300 leading organisations with more than $1 billion in revenue. Our global operating model offers our consultants a range of mobility options, short- and long-term moves to more than 100 offices around the world.

“Flexibility is very important to Millennials and Generation Y. We offer flexible work programmes, and the Take Time option (which effectively allows our people to take up to two extra months off every year) is very popular. People have taken time for all sorts of cool reasons, to learn languages, climb mountains, write books or spend time with family.”

Agarwal says McKinsey has to focus on the changing expectations and aspirations of gifted graduates to make sure it can attract and retain the right people.

“The expectations of the future workforce have definitely changed. Few graduates are looking for a lifelong nine to five job anymore. Top talent is looking for their work and personal lives to be better rounded, so an organisation’s culture is front-and-centre in recruiting discussions. We must think about how we fit into the aspirations and professional journeys of young talent,” he adds.