The Search For Passion: Keeping and Developing Young Talent

Published on December 17, 2021

For recruiters, hiring managers, and other HR professionals, attracting and retaining talent is one of the most important duties of their job role—particularly in today’s world. Even prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, one report from Gallup found that only 34% (roughly one-third) of all U.S. employees felt engaged with their work, meaning that the majority of all U.S. employees did not feel cognitively or emotionally connected to or satisfied with their work. Now, as we enter the third year of the pandemic, hiring managers and HR professionals are undoubtedly bound to encounter a growing number of candidates who feel disengaged from their work. 

Part of this disconnection is likely due to the requirement for employees to learn more new skills than ever before in order to attain an advantage over other candidates for specific job roles, as well as the base requirements for higher-paying, more rewarding employment opportunities. Similarly, lackluster onboarding processes can further foster feelings of confusion and dissatisfaction in new employees, leading to higher churn rates for organizations, whereas better onboarding processes can help retain more than two-thirds of all new employees for some 3 years into the future.

When employees feel more disengaged and disconnected from their work, organizations suffer from the reduction in productivity, leading to a drop in sales volumes and/or revenues. Similarly, employers who are able to increase the engagement of their employees by at least 10% can boost their profits by some $2,400 per employee each year.

These issues facing hiring managers and other HR leaders are precisely what one entrepreneur has focused on mitigating — if not outright solving — through his company’s innovative new process for attracting, onboarding and retaining to allow more employers to boost engagement, lock down valuable employees for longer periods of time, as well as help them learn new skills.

Challenging recruiters and candidates to improve engagement

When David Botos founded Helix in February of 2020, his mission was simple: search for and create transformative ways to help his fellow upperclassmen college students engage more meaningfully with (and solve more complex real-world for) leading organizations and businesses while still enrolled in university. Now, nearly two years after testing out his company’s initial offerings, the evolved iteration of Botos’s solutions come in the form of two programs: HelixChallenges and HelixCases. 

“HelixChallenges are micro-problems that can be run by paid clients, clubs, or universities to see the way that a candidate thinks,” Botos says. “HelixCases are micro-case competitions run by paid clients or clubs that delve deeper and test important career skills as students investigate and pitch their ideas for cash prizes.”

In working alongside HR leaders at major businesses, Botos and his team at Helix work to construct and conduct case study competitions for those leading organizations, granting those businesses and their HR teams unique access to a growing number of skilled student candidates at universities throughout the US through Helix’s online platform.

According to Botos, HelixCases act similar to short-term “hackathons” — case competitions that better replicate the format of hackathons with cash prizes attached as an incentive for people to engage with a problem with real freedom and range to solve it creatively, using their unique skill sets, as well as new valuable skills they can learn from participating in these competitions, and then transfer into an employment role in the future.

“For business careers at college levels,” Botos continues, “HelixChallenges and HelixCases can help employers learn how to reduce their churn rates and have better retention via onboarding, assessments, and continued employee engagement.”

Scoring and attracting candidates developmental skills

What sets HelixChallenges and HelixCases apart from other similar programs or solutions tailored towards hiring managers’ and HR professionals’ ability to successfully scout for the most skilled and talented candidates as potential employees lies in these programs’ ability to score participants on their performance during these competitions.

For example, participants of Helix’s innovative programs are scored off of 8 intangible factors; curiousness, observation, creativeness, analytic capabilities, numeration, empathy, confidence, and resiliency. These factors and their scores are visible throughout the length of each program to the participants and the recruiters working alongside Helix to host them, with final scores being made available to the public, as well, to generate interest from other recruiters outside of the competitions themselves. Each participant’s final scoring of each intangible factor is then grouped into specific categories related to job-specific functions, such as Strategy (scored the by primary factors of curiosity, observancy, and creativity), Finance (scored by confidence as well as numeration and analytical ability), or Customer Service (scored by empathy, resiliency, and curiosity).

“Participation in events on HelixCases such as our HelixChallenges, HelixCases, workshops, and events help to build a student’s functional skills that can be most attractive to recruiters,” says Botos. “The scores of participants’ functional skills evaluate the amount of time and effort a specific candidate puts into their professional development in certain skill sets.” 

In early careers, candidates that are dedicated to investigating their career interests and learning more professional skills are the most valuable assets to a company. By grading function skills across programs specifically tailored to fit the recruiting and talent-specific needs of leading organizations, Botos’s hope with Helix and its innovative programs is to capture which candidates have both the best intangible skills and care for each recruiter and their organization’s core functions, thus reducing churn rates while simultaneously boosting employee engagement to develop and retain a higher portion of talented employees.

Jay Feldman is an Osteopathic medical doctor and founder of Otter Public Relations, a PR agency with more than 35 employees internationally. Jay has more than 300K followers on social media and is the host of top business podcast, Mentors Collective. He is a contributor at and has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider and other top networks.

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