In the War For Talent, High School Is Becoming the New Battlefield

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Jun 28, 2019

The Internet has done wonders for recruiters. Jobs sites allow recruiters to post open positions in places they know job seekers will visit, breaking down geographic barriers and giving them access to candidates from all parts of the country.

Reach is no longer an issue. What’s more challenging is bringing in individuals who have the drive, skills and hands-on experience to not only carry out essential job functions, but to excel within the organization. In this tight labor market, with competition for workers as intense as it has ever been, anything that can give employers an edge in connecting with quality candidates even before they become candidates can make a big difference.

Considering Generation Z – those born after 1997, according to Pew Research Center — will add 61 million people to the workforce, recruiters should pay special attention to this population, learning how to connect and interact with them right now — even if they haven’t received their high school diploma yet.

There are a few things recruiters need to know about this incoming talent pool. For starters, many members of Gen Z find personal achievement extremely important. And having grown up in the aftermath of the Great Recession, they strive to be successful in “future-proof,” stable jobs, very different from the job-hopping approach their elder millennials are known for.

They’re also hesitant to take on significant student loan debt, so many are open to forgoing college altogether if they know they can get a well-paying job without a degree.

This is why recruiters should get in students’ ears early. Rather than sifting through resume after resume of students with a college degree, but no relevant experience, recruiters can guide interested students down a tailored career path that will give them the skills and experience they need to secure a position within the company. For example, a two-year college degree with some additional training may be more fitting than a more expensive four-year college degree. Letting high schoolers in on this kind of insight will not only ensure recruiters have qualified candidates coming their way, it will also ensure they have qualified candidates coming their way sooner — not having wasted valuable time in pricey degree programs they don’t need.

Randelle Thompson

To do this, recruiters should keep utilizing technology, but in some new ways. Instead of sitting on traditional job sites recruiters should reach Generation Z where half of them spend more than 5 hours of their day — their cell phone.

Recruiters at some companies are already doing this. Tidelands Health, a Georgetown, South Carolina healthcare provider, connected with one high schooler, Randelle Thompson, and informed her of the company and their scholarship opportunities. Randelle graduated from high school, was awarded a Tidelands scholarship and is currently attending Horry Georgetown Technical College. After she graduates, she will be working for Tidelands Health, similar to Cody Corneglio’s experience with Cummins Turbo Technologies.

Members of Generation Z are very different from the workers who came before them, and recruiters need a new approach as a result. Looking ahead, the recruiters who initiate conversations with individuals while they are still in high school—on the devices and platforms they use the most—are the ones who will find the greatest success.

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