Recruiting young people

Many businesses report difficulty recruiting work-ready and appropriately skilled young people. Whilst specific challenges vary, there is often a mismatch between employers’ and young people’s approach and expectations during recruitment. The following information can help you engage with young people more successfully.

Recruitment Tips


Recruitment Tips

Timing and planning

Although recruitment needs do not revolve around the academic year, there are key periods when students in their last year of school or college make decisions and when it is easiest to communicate with them. If you can plan your future recruitment in advance, you will be able to communicate more effectively with young people to attract them to your business. 

October to December - students begin considering their future options and will attend careers fairs and talks. This is a good time to raise young people’s awareness of your business.

January to March – students planning to continue in education will make applications now for places in September. If you know that you will require new starters later in the year this is a good time to begin your recruitment process, so that young people consider employment as an option. 

April to June – revision and exams kick in. It is difficult to access young people during this period. Whilst school students will remain at school until the end of term, college students will leave as soon as their exams are over.

July and August – students are free to commence employment.

Reaching your audience

Unless you are a well-known brand or locally significant business young people are unlikely to know of your employment opportunities. Supporting careers activity at your local school or college is a great way to build awareness among potential future recruits. 

The plethora of media platforms available today can make it difficult to get your opportunity seen.

A high proportion of young people use social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat for fun, to stay connected and to explore their interests. If your organisation already has a social media presence, you might decide to add content to help you connect with young people.

Positioning your offer

Pay is just one factor influencing how attractive your vacancy is to young people. Emily Steel shares her insights on how Leonardo Helicopters attract and retain some of the best and most talented young people in Somerset in the video below:

You can generate more interest by addressing:

  • Location and travel - if you are in an isolated location without public transport this can be a barrier to those young people who lack the confidence or means to travel independently. Providing travel support – which may range from a subsidy (offset by salary reductions) or a lift from a co-worker can help address this.
  • Hours - if your business operates strict shift patterns or rotas it is important to be clear on this. If you can offer flexibility such as a shorter week with reduced pay or a flexible hours policy this may be attractive.
  • Development and progression - this is important to young people starting their careers. Can you specify how candidates can develop their skills in your business? If the role is fixed-term it is important to make this clear.

The Recruitment Process

Formal recruitment processes can be scary for young people, particularly those without good support. Reducing the stress involved can improve the performance of your candidates. Basic information should include the closing date and contact details for the advertised position.

Many young people have had little opportunity to develop a comprehensive CV. Competency based assessment is a helpful alternative. This allows the employer to set out the requirement e.g. ‘ability to greet customers politely’ and the applicant to outline their suitability from a non-work context e.g. ‘teachers have commented how polite I was in school’.

Caroline Derrick, Skills and Development Manager at Somerset Council explains the benefits of competency based recruitment for the employer and the candidate.

For those invited to the next stage, clear guidance on dress standards will reduce anxiety. Is a suit and tie / suit and blouse necessary?

A formal interview panel may not get the best out of the candidates. Alternative approaches could include:

  • Work-based tasks allowing the young person to demonstrate relevant skills
  • Meeting candidates as a group to view how they interact

Once you have recruited, providing unsuccessful candidates will help them prepare for their next opportunity – and will leave them with a positive view of your company.

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