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Hire Young Talent Legally: Tips to Attract & Retain Student Contractors

Hire Young Talent

In a tight labor market, employers are scrapping for any edge they can get in the intensifying fight to attract and retain talent. It’s a seller’s market for talent at every rung of the seniority ladder, but roles that demand substantial experience are particularly hard to fill these days.

That’s why more employers, including those that formerly had their pick of the litter, are widening their talent search aperture and seeking out younger, less experienced workers whose drive and willingness to go the extra mile more than balances out their limited frame of reference.

Nowhere is the turn to younger, rawer talent more apparent than in the tech industry. In fact, many employers aren’t even waiting for job candidates to finish their studies. If you’re interested in hiring promising students to temporary contract roles, here’s what you need to know to draw them in — and ensure they’re doing right by your company.

Offer Workplace Perks

Maybe think twice about the proverbial foosball table, but don’t discount the value of legitimate workplace perks — virtual and otherwise. If you’re housing your workforce under a single roof, keep the team happy with catered lunches, a fully stocked kitchen, beer on tap (happy hours only!), exercise equipment, and other lifestyle amenities. If your team is remote, offer fringe benefits like periodic outings, gift cards or other monetary rewards for jobs well done, birthday and holiday gifts, and so on. These bennies aren’t expensive, and they go a long way to establish loyalty.

Offer a Company Credit Card

Think your fresh-faced teammates aren’t mature enough to handle a company Credit card? There’s only one way to find out.

Take a look at a recent roundup of the best credit cards for young adults and choose a product that’s appropriate for your team’s spending habits. Add trusted subordinates as authorized users, set reasonable credit limits, and use your issuer’s tracking tools to monitor spending patterns.

Give Academic Credit

What’s better than a company credit card? Academic credit for each semester worked.

Look into structuring your contractor relationships as paid internships. Academic credit has value, after all, so this is a great way to control wages without scaring away talent.

Take High Achievers Under Your Wing

Academic credit pairs well with mentor-mentee relationships. You probably don’t have the bandwidth to mentor an entire crop of student contractors, but surely you can identify one or two promising, driven youths to champion. You never know how this might pay off in the future: when your mentee goes looking for startup financing, maybe you’ll get in on the ground floor.

Give a Hand With Student Loan Repayments

Most of your student contractors are grappling with the prospect of a years-long slog to repay mountains of student debt. Give them a hand — and inspire their undying loyalty — with conditional cash earmarked for Student Loan Repayments or a formal student loan repayment benefit. (Though the latter may require you to classify recipients as employees.)

In It for the Long Haul?

Today’s compsci students are tomorrow’s tech leaders. That’s why it’s risky to view young contractors as necessarily temporary. If you have big plans for your company, it’s in your interest — and your enterprise’s — to look for students with big plans of their own. Give them a reason to grow with you and they’ll make sure you don’t regret it.

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