Finding top talent doesn’t just mean recruiting great students and recent grads across Canada.

Regardless of your industry, the size of your recruitment program or your ideal candidate, when you’re recruiting for tomorrow’s generation of Canadian leaders, you aren’t looking for a finished product. You’re looking for potential.

But managing extraordinary talent means confronting unique challenges. Consider a recent Harvard Business Review study which found that 75 per cent of top-performing young people were actively engaged in job-search activities during their first year of employment, including applying and interviewing for other jobs.

Their average stay with an employer? Just 28 months.

While participants in the HBR study said their employers generally did a good job providing hands-on development opportunities by assigning new responsibilities and challenges, they neglected formal development: person-to-person engagement and skill-building.

The bigger picture

HBR’s target candidates for the study were a little older than today’s recruitment potential – which means they’re well-positioned to act as a cautionary tale when you’re planning for this generation of Canadian student and recent graduate hires.

Just as your recruitment program helps you identify the candidates with the most potential, mentorship is a key component of maximizing that potential and delivering the employment experience the candidate is looking for. This helps you create the career hires you’re looking for.

Excelling in employee mentorship is a three-part equation and it begins with identifying the right mentors.

Without feedback and insight from the employees who will actually be driving the mentorship process, it’s difficult to decide how your mentorship program can function and which mentorship-oriented students or grads it will target.

If you chose mentors based more on availability than disposition, you may encounter some problems in the long run, as the best mentors are both qualified and enthusiastic. Consider the following roles and qualities of a mentor as you plan your mentorship programming:

Mentors are teachers

Mentorship doesn’t have to be a constantly enacted process, but it can’t be completely passive either. A mentor must be willing and able to commit to active skill-building and teaching and can’t function only as an opt-in information resource.

Mentors are genuine

If a mentor is afraid of being “shown up” by a mentee, the relationship will quickly go from growth-oriented to stagnant. A mentor should recognize and appreciate that a mentee’s stellar or innovative performance in a particular task or area is not an indictment of the mentor’s value or performance.

Mentors are connected

While mentors don’t have to be senior employees, the most productive mentorship relationships help a new candidate develop their own network of industry professionals. At any level, a mentor should be able to help a mentee bridge the gap between their early career role and the individuals with whom they should be connecting, either in-person or online.

Mentors are perceptive

There’s a bare minimum for people skills and perception in a mentor. The mentorship process is only effective when a mentor can learn about the mentee’s passions, dreams, skills and strengths – then find outlets and opportunities to enhance these qualities.

By the same token, this communication provides an outlet for the mentee to understand his or her place within the organization while giving the mentor some valuable insight from fresh eyes.

Mentors are approachable and accessible

Mentorship can take place in many different forums, but it’s important that it be an active and ongoing process. When someone commits to being a mentor, it is important they respond to the emails, phone calls, text messages and tweets of their mentees. Maintaining regular contact is key.

Mentors are (or have been) mentees

Everyone has to start somewhere, but there’s no question that the most engaged and stimulating mentors are often former or current mentees. Participating in both components of the process helps a mentor examine the mentorship process on an ongoing basis.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be exploring other areas of the mentorship process. Check in soon for our interview with Lisa Kramer, RBC’s Director of Global Campus Recruiting!