Talent Pipeline: Six Things for Employers to Keep in Mind
Many growth-mode businesses and organizations are concerned about the talent pipeline: i.e. how to attract and keep those employees with the talents a growing business needs.  “Seek first to understand” is a good first step.  Let’s use a cohort of college undergraduates 18-21 years old.  Here are six things that may help in understanding this cohort.
    1. Indebtedness. While demographers describe this cohort as better educated than prior generations, this also means more indebtedness and school loans for many.  Debt burdens shape life and career choices.  That talented person you want to attract and keep may also be struggling with indebtedness and may be reticent to talk about it.
    2. Hybridization of Careers and Skills. This cohort is figuring out (maybe sooner than their predecessors) that complex, higher paying jobs increasingly require a hybridization of talents and skills.  Examples of hybridization include: an engineer who pursues a law degree; a graphic designer with advanced tech/computer skills; a research scientist with creative insight; a data analyst who can also interpret and extrapolate data into a larger picture of meaning, probabilities and trends; a physician or other health care professional who is multilingual and able to relate to pluralistic patient populations.  Look for those students who show, through combined majors and internship experience, the foresight to adapt to this job hybridization trend.  Many are realizing that their career prospects (along with paying off indebtedness) depend on combining complementary areas of knowledge.
    3. Pluralism. Pluralism across many demographic factors (socio-economic, urban-rural geography, race, gender, age, national origin, background, religion, etc.) is a widely accepted reality within this cohort.  Metaphorically speaking, pluralism is the water in which this cohort is more used to swimming.  This cohort places value on workplaces that reflect pluralism.  Pluralism involves not only demographics but pluralism of ideas.  Talent from this cohort is attracted to workplaces that value different ideas as opposed to homogeneity or top-down, groupthink-style management.
    4. Tech Judgment. In the earlier honeymoon days of social media, people were more trusting of tech giants like Facebook and Google with slogans like “do no evil.”  For this cohort, those trusting days are over and they are seeing the good, bad and ugly sides of social media.  The paradox is that even with the trust erosion, social media involvement is pervasive.  There’s no substitute for basic good judgment when it comes to tech.  Conversely, evidence of bad tech judgment hurts job prospects.  This cohort understands the need for and is very trainable around cybersecurity.
    5. Security and Safety. This cohort remembers active shooter drills in high school more than September 11, 2001.  They grew up with evidence that violence can happen in places prior generations thought were safe: schools, malls, concerts, work, churches, synagogues.  Safe workplaces will attract employees.  How safe is your workplace?
    6. Inspiration. This cohort is hungry for inspiring work.  They are increasingly turned off by negative politics and adults not acting and talking like adults.  Employers who want talent to come on board and stay will need to have and communicate a self-confident commitment to a well-defined organizational inspiration.  Employers with ideals, respectful tones and a take-the-high-road approach will attract and keep talent.

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