In today’s competitive job market, attracting and retaining early-career candidates has become increasingly challenging. Many organizations are facing higher rates of candidate reneges, causing them to reevaluate their engagement and retention strategies. However, some proactive and forward-thinking employers are leveraging technology and new ideas to tackle these challenges effectively.

Earlier this month, co-founder Parker Pell sat down with Katie Thomas, Strategic Account Director at Yello, Kathy Young, National Director of University Relations & Campus Recruitment at American Heart Association, and Mallory Zikeli, Talent Acquisition Manager, University Relations at Dick’s Sporting Goods, for a conversation around true end-to-end candidate engagement strategies. 

From initial interactions at campus events, nurturing candidates through the hiring process, creating a sense of community, and getting candidates ramped up, we dove into the practices that help organizations build lasting connections with early-career talent and reduce reneges. Read on for the full recap or view the full conversation here!

Gen Z is Different – Embrace Their Expectations

To kickoff the conversation, the panelists explored the nuances that the newest generation, Generation Z, brings to the workplace. “We know Generation Z is different from generations that come before them, their behaviors and expectations are unlike anything we’ve seen before,” Katie says. Gen Z’s affinity for technology, accessible information, community, and safety has been felt first-hand by both teams at American Heart Association (AHA) and Dick’s Sporting Goods (DSG).  

  • 69% of Gen Z wants to hear from employeres 1-2x per week after accepting a job
  • 70% of Gen Z wants a way to talk with future team members
  • 38% of Gen Z candidates want better transparency on the timeline, logistics, and next steps of the job process 

“Everything is coming at them [Gen Z] earlier, faster, quicker; that’s how they’re used to getting information,” observes Kathy. At AHA, this means taking time to intentionally create experiences that are specifically built to Gen Z’s expectations. Streamlining communication is one way both AHA and DSG are tackling this challenge. “What we’ve discovered is that overcommunication does not exist as a concept for Gen Z,” adds Mallory. Leveraging multiple types of communication – such as emails, text messages, and platform notifications – can help create that “surround sound” approach and cater to the various ways Gen Z prefers to receive information. 

In addition to ample communication, Gen Z also demands community. “They want community, belonging that are focused on social interests, hobbies, and likes…not previous work experience ‘community’” Parker says. Gone are the days of adding candidates to a LinkedIn or GroupMe community and expecting them to generate conversation on their own. It’s a responsibility of the employer to help facilitate those engagements, and to bring those common hobbies, interests, and likes to the surface. Kathy relates this back to Gen Z’s desire to feel safe and prepared. “Community within their cohort is different than the community and network within their career path and how we prepare them for both of those experiences needs to be different,” she advises. 

Using Yello to Engage Gen Z Pre-Hire

Harnessing the power of the Yello/WayUp platforms has been key in engaging candidates pre-hire. With the ability to measure event data, offer acceptance rates, NPS, messaging efficacy, and more, both Kathy and Mallory advocated for the value of Yello in their sourcing and recruiting strategies. 

For Kathy at AHA, her focus remains on storytelling and authenticity. “Whether it’s our WayUp page or our own career page, we make sure we have recent intern stories and testimonials on there, ways that candidates can put together what the story is and get that information about us,” she says. 

At Dick’s Sporting Goods, they’ve moved from a regional recruiting approach to a national one, yet community (and content!) still remains top-of-mind. “We recruited from 10 schools now to 46 schools over the last few years and we’ve got to figure out how to create communities across the country, as opposed to just in strategic schools,” says Mallory. For Mallory’s team, this means maintaining a “Campus Captains” program: former interns that act as campus ambassadors to advocate and articulate what it’s like to work at Dick’s Sporting Goods. 

Using Abode to Engage Gen Z Post-Hire

Keeping interns engaged post-offer is important, agree Kathy, Mallory, and Parker. For Kathy, Abode acts as an extra pair of hands as she juggles year-found semester cohorts of interns. “There were so many different pieces of communication to manage and as a team of one, I needed help,” she admits. “Someone was getting left out no matter where my focus went.”

At DSG, infusing several key touchpoints along the way to keep interns engaged before day 1 has proven successful. Mallory acknowledges their Campus Captains program, signing day boxes, and branded goodies and snacks, site visits to introduce interns to Pittsburgh, and using Abode to connect interns to one another (and to track and manage the entire experience!). “Our strategy starts with the internship program itself and making that experience so great that they don’t even want to talk to another company,” she laughs. 

The Power of Yello & Abode 

Given the competitiveness of today’s top talent and rapid workplace shifts, it’s no surprise that today’s recruiting landscape demands more automation, better vendors, increased efficiency, and swift execution. “Together, Yello & Abode transform and streamline day-to-day tasks, delivering an enriched candidate experience from that first touchpoint through a candidate’s first day of work,” Katie outlines. 

“Both tools have the ability to help me identify what’s working in the key areas I’m responsible for,” adds Kathy. 

“The Yello & Abode partnership is more than just a convenience…it’s really about empowerment.”

Katie Thomas, Strategic Account Director, Yello

For Mallory and her team, the use of Yello and Abode allows her to set better, more clear expectations for her candidates pre- and post-hire. “Gen Z doesn’t like to be surprised, so the more you can inform them about what’s coming, the more comfortable they are,” she says. 

Parker challenges the audience to think about current state use of spreadsheets and manual trackers, and how much time back the Yello and Abode solutions can provide teams. “It’s not just about saving time,” he quips, “but about what can you do with that time back in your day?” 

Key Takeaways

The Yello and Abode partnership enables teams to provide a hyper-personalized, engaging recruitment experience. Whether teams are sourcing from the pool of 7 million diverse candidates on Yello’s platform, hosting one of the 85,000+ events held annually on the Yello site, or leveraging Abode to identify and reduce turnover by more than 50%, this collaboration empowers employers to streamline and maximize their approach to early talent recruitment. 

For more insights or to listen to the full conversation, download the webinar here