How to attract young employees – and keep them

Published: 2018-09-25

The first year Bachelor’s in International Business students were invited to the seminar “The war for talent” for a Q&A with Kajsa von Geijer, Senior Vice President Human Resources at Thule Group and Per-Arne Pettersson, Partner at Deloitte. Based on the students’ questions, they generously shared their experience on how to attract young employees – and how to keep them.

The war for talent refers to an increasingly competitive landscape for recruiting and retaining talented employees. Illustration: iStockphoto

What is “the war for talent”?

Kajsa: For Thule Group, as for all companies, the competition to attract the best is fierce. You have to plan for the future of the company, that’s in the business plan. So, it is our job to be an attractive company for future employees. Everyone wants to have a good job, but there is so much more to it today. People also look at the company values and balance in life.

Per-Arne: Deloitte used to employ 3–6 months before the start of a new job. Today we are hiring up to 9–15 months before the start of the job. We have to be attractive as an employer to keep the interest up during these months. It is crucial that we are a modern company with career possibilities and top-notch equipment. Future employees also look at our sustainability report – our values are everything today.

Any advice for the recruitment process?

Per-Arne: For me, it is divided into two parts. The first part is to get the interview. We look at your grades, your application letter and CV and if you have attended our student events. The second part is how you act during the interview. Be well-prepared and have good manners. Social competence and experience of teamwork is a big plus in my book.

Kajsa: It depends on the job and the entry level. However, we have examples where we have found applicants who are really appealing, but might not have had work experience in this field. So, if you have the right personality, are curious, and have a high intellectual capacity (not only an academic degree, show that you are educating yourself about society and culture – additional value to the education) let’s see how we can make this work. And of course – be nice! Be yourself, be well-prepared and prepare for what kind of company culture you are entering into.

How should you think about your future career as a first-year student?

Per-Arne: Attend Deloitte’s student events, talk to our people, be interested. To be active in the Lund student life is also of importance. We want to know that you have done something besides your studies. It shows that you have involved yourself, that you can balance extracurricular activities with your education.

Kajsa: All jobs are meritorious on the CV. It shows that you are able to find a job and are capable of time management and fulfilling your duties. Most jobs also require team work – put that on your CV! I don’t care if you picked apples, worked in a factory, or in a warehouse, that’s also fantastic. But remember, a career is more than a CV. It’s timing, and it’s pure luck. You’ll find your way, I am certain of it.

What does the research say?

Christine Blomquist, teacher and researcher in business administration, has specialized in Talent Management:

– The concept of "war for talent" was coined by McKinsey just over 20 years ago, originally focusing on the IT sector. That has changed however, to a more general discussion about a talent and skills shortage. This is reflected upon in most organizations' strategic agenda.

Why is it so hard to recruit young talents?

– There are many reasons why recruitment is difficult, which we are quite aware of from research. For example the presence of so-called "homosocial reproduction" – we tend to recruit individuals similar to ourselves. Today, however, discussions about recruitment should also include how to maintain, develop and engage talents.


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Cecilia Arkestad 

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Anna Månsson