SmartRecruiters Blog

Sourcing High Potential Gen Y Talent – Mission Impossible?

Not at all, at least not if you know where to look! It’s just like a Chief HR Officer at a recent conference said: Sourcing talent is like hunting moose. And how do you do that? Well, first of all, you track them down and find them by going where they are!

Here are 3 Tips to turn your Sourcing Mission into a Gen Y Magnet:


#1: Define your ideal candidate profile

Every vacancy has a job description, carefully listing the requirements a candidate must fulfill in order to be considered for an opening. Surprisingly though, technical knowledge, education and experience seem to get all the attention during the sourcing and selection process. If we need mechanical know-how, we hire engineers. If we need IT expertise, we go after tech profiles. And if we need business credentials, we recruit MBAs. After all, the question every Hiring Manager wants to see answered is: CAN they do the job? But what about other important dimensions of suitability – what about Motivational Fit? Isn’t Technical Knowledge more like the ticket to the ball and Motivational Fit is what actually gets people up to dance?

Motivational Fit consists of at least two dimensions: Job Fit and Organization Fit. Both are key to identifying the right talent for your vacancies. Job Fit describes the extent to which activities and responsibilities, that are personally satisfying for a candidate, are available in the job; and Organization Fit describes the extent to which an organization’s mode of operation and type of environment provides personal satisfaction. Both should be considered in your sourcing strategy early on. You may find the best technically qualified candidate, but if they are not motivated to do the job, you might as well just double your recruiting budget right from the get-go because you will need to replace them the moment they decide to leave and go where they actually WANT to work.

#2: Use appropriate channels and creative methods to locate your candidates

The following are the top sourcing options and attraction techniques that work well with Generation Y.



–      Internship or entry level focused job boards (ask your Gen Y employees where they would be looking)

–      Your company’s career website (consider it your business card towards Gen Y)

–      Business schools and universities (both local and international!)

–      Peer networks and referral programs (“Fishing for Friends”)

–      Social media (yes, make sure to list your vacancies on Facebook and tweet about them)

–      Virtual career fairs (a cost effective sourcing tool and great for employer branding)



–      Leverage consumer loyalty and the strong brand appeal of your products (why not ask your customers to work for you?)

–      Use humor, images and storytelling when you advertise jobs (ever considered posting a job ad in form of a comic strip?)

–      Gamify your attraction campaigns (but make sure to avoid the pitfalls of poor gamification and work with an appropriate vendor)

–      Build your employer brand by sponsoring concerts, sports events, talent shows or reality TV productions (yes, you read that right)

–      Talk about your CSR programs (maybe offer volunteering opportunities for successful candidates?)

–      Get editorial space, blogs and articles into lifestyle magazines and on their websites (authentic coverage about “What life is like at XYZ” is worth much more than any glossy job ad)


Some of these ideas sound crazy to you? Well, that’s a good indication that they work with Gen Y.


#3: Make sure to integrate Motivational Fit in your Sourcing efforts

When you design your Sourcing Strategy, go beyond the standard approach of where to find the technical expertise, education and experience you need. Pay specific attention to your ideal candidate profile in terms of the traits you are looking for – how does Job Fit and Organization Fit look like? For example, who would be happier in the job, an introvert or an extrovert? Depending on the answer, you might want to consider targeting candidates in book clubs or social hang-outs. If the job requires strong interpersonal skills like building new relationships in unknown territory, target participants in overseas volunteer projects. The job requires lots of business trips? Go after people who enjoy traveling and find out where they are.

Depending on your company culture, you may want to source candidates in sports teams, start-up firms, or in debating associations. Whether you look for creative candidates in the world of the Arts, or for people with strong strategic thinking skills in chess clubs – there’s really no limit to your imagination where to find the right Motivational Fit!

Obviously, the above is true for candidates from any generation. However, Gen Y is inherently driven to find a job that matches their lifestyle and purpose. In fact, they are not looking for a job; they are looking for a mission! Thanks to their life stage, which typically entails a lot of freedom and few responsibilities, it is also relatively easy for Gen Y-ers to give up a job they hate, which makes their Motivational Fit weigh even more than other workplace generations.


So next time you hear complaints about sky-rocketing recruiting costs in spite of proper sourcing efforts to hire the right profile, you may want to analyze whether it was a motivational mismatch that drove your new hires to turn recruitment into a revolving door. Coach your Hiring Manager that both questions, whether a candidate CAN DO the job and WANTS TO DO the job, are key to successful hiring. In fact, even if a candidate does not fulfill all technical requirements, keep in mind that most skills and competencies can be taught and trained over time, whereas influencing someone’s motivation is much harder. That’s where your actual Mission Impossible starts…


Martina Mangelsdorf

Martina Mangelsdorf is the founder of GAIA Insights, a firm specialized in leadership development for Generation Y. She is also the creator of GOLD™ – Game Oriented Leadership Development – and has an extensive background in recruiting. 

SmartRecruiters is the hiring platform with everything you need to source talent, manage candidates, and make the right hires.

Martina Mangelsdorf

Martina Mangelsdorf is the founder of GAIA Insights, a firm specialized in leadership development for Generation Y. She is also the creator of GOLD™ - Game Oriented Leadership Development - and has an extensive background in recruiting. Prior to running her own business based out of Switzerland, Martina worked for Novartis Pharmaceuticals, DuPont de Nemours and EMDS Group in Latin America, Spain, Belgium and the US.