Young people are at a disadvantage in today’s labour market due, in part, to employers preferring to recruit experienced workers over school leavers and new graduates. Getting a foothold in the labour market is a struggle for many thanks to the competitive nature of the market and the supposed risk of hiring inexperienced candidates over those who can “hit the ground running”.

Of course not all positions can be filled by young people, highly specialised roles do require employees with a certain level of business experience, however there are ways that young people can help you achieve your business goals, and by adding young people to your staff and giving them the opportunity to develop important skills, you are a step closer to securing the health and performance of your business long into the future.

What you need to do is identify how and where young people can meet the needs and challenges of your business. Think about whether the role you’re recruiting for really requires previous work experience, or if a young person with potential – the right soft skills, motivation and attitude – could offer just as much to the business. Also, think about designing and creating roles for young people entering your organisation, such as apprenticeships, internships, school-leaver and graduate programs, and work experience placements.

But don’t wait for them to approach you. Engaging with local schools and colleges is a good way of informing people about your business and the opportunities you can offer. By actively seeking young people as employees you can ensure that you get the right candidates knocking at your door.

Young people don’t go about searching for work in the same manner as older, more experienced workers. Living as we are in a digital and social media age, young people are much more likely to use social and professional media based on the internet to find job opportunities. Because of this consider making use of sites like Facebook and LinkedIn as part of your recruitment practice. Combined with more traditional and formal methods you will be able to reach a wider, more diverse pool of talent within the newest generation of employees.

One of the biggest issues in terms of recruiting young people is that the advertisements themselves are often written in a way that does not appeal to the target audience. Review the way your advertisements are written. Is all the information provided useful? Could you rewrite them so they are more focused on ability rather than experience? The advert needs to be concise in its message. The clearer you are about the job, the better the applications you receive will be. Pages and pages of job descriptions and person specifications will only work to overwhelm and put off candidates; especially those in the 16-18 age bracket that have likely never worked before and have had little exposure to the recruitment process.

A lot more can be said about fine tuning recruitment criteria and methods in relation to young people, but having the right advertisement and most effective promotional strategy go a long way to getting the best candidates to the interview stage. Many employers undertake an endless search for exactly the right person for the job. Instead they should look for a person – young or not – with the potential to become not only a productive team member but an asset to their business as a whole.

Our thanks go to the CIPD for their useful articles Employers Are from Mars, Young People Are from Venus and Recruiting Young People: Top Tips for Employers.

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