Recruiting Young People - Tips for Employers

This guide is drafted in association with the “Employability Competencies” identified by local schools and employers. 

Please click here for an electronic Tips for Employers booklet.

1. Look for the right attitude, not just experience

Key Pointers:

  • Young people are not only your workforce for tomorrow; they are also an invaluable asset to your organisation here and now.
  • Younger workers bring unique skills, new ideas and an enthusiasm because of their age and the fact that they don’t come from a pre-programmed corporate background. So even though young people may lack work experience, they can bring a wealth of ideas into your organisation and challenge existing thinking.
  • Young people’s unique skills are particularly important to organisations when it comes to digital literacy, social networking and social media.
  • If young candidates have the right attitude, motivation and work ethic, the rest can be taught on the job, including technical skills.

2. Make sure job descriptions are realistic

Key Pointers:

  • Look at existing Job Descriptions and Person Specifications and rewrite them where necessary to ensure that they are focused on ability rather than experience.
  • Look at the Doncaster Skills Academy ‘Employability Competences’ and ensure these are reflected accurately.
  • Does the job require an individual with a graduate qualification, or could it be performed by a school leaver or an apprenticeship who can study for this on-the-job?

3. Consider where and how to advertise jobs to attract young people

Key Pointers:

  • Young people don’t go about the job search in the same way as more experienced workers do, they are much more likely to use social and professional media to find opportunities, so consider advertising on your organisation’s Facebook and LinkedIn sites, as well as other suitable websites such as web-based job boards, graduate and non-graduate websites, and off-line methods like recruitment fairs.
  • Review how job adverts are written. Keep it simple - the clearer you are, the better the applications you’ll receive. Be open about the recruitment process, what the stages are and the expectations during those stages.

4. Look at your short listing and selection processes

Key Pointers:

  • Short listing and selection is the most challenging stage in the recruitment process for young job seekers. To ensure you consider the brightest and the best young talent available, employers can try the following:
  1. Develop simple, easy to use application forms and include sections for them to complete based on the ‘Employability Competences’.
  2. Hold short initial interviews and explore the ‘Employability Competences’ as well as ensuring the candidate has done background research into your company.
  3. Select a small pool for second interview and consider including a relevant short task to check work quality.
  4. Alternatively consider an Assessment Centre - these have the advantage of seeing how candidates interact with others as well as assessing their soft skills, intelligence and problem-solving, social skills, management skills and personal characteristics.

5. Make the most of the Interview/Assessment Stage

Key Pointers:

  • For a young person, the interview/recruitment process should be a confidence-boosting experience. Equally, for the employer, increasing the confidence of the young person means they will perform better during interview.

As an employer, you can:

  • Provide as much information in advance as possible, for example, dress code, who they should ask for at reception and what form the interview will take.
  • Give them a tour of the office and show them the work area they’d be working in.
  • Ask existing young employees to act as ushers during the interview process to encourage candidates to ask questions they may not feel confident enough to ask the interviewer.
  • Remove unnecessary formalities, e.g., sit alongside a desk rather than have one between you so as not to create a barrier.
  • Put candidates at ease by beginning the interview with an informal chat – perhaps discuss the hobbies or interests listed on their CV.
  • Inform the candidate of the date by which you expect to have made a decision.

6. Provide constructive feedback for unsuccessful candidates

Key Pointers:

  • Feedback is crucial to young people’s development. By giving open, honest and constructive feedback you can help ensure their success in the future.

We recommend that you:

  • List ‘common reasons’ applications have not been short listed in an email/letter to unsuccessful candidates.
  • Provide candidates who have been unsuccessful at interview/assessment an opportunity to receive feedback. Ideally, this should be given by the line manager who conducted the interview.
  • Be positive but honest! Don’t focus on where they went wrong, but explain why the role isn’t necessarily right for them.

For successful candidates

Keep in mind that young people who are inexperienced in the workplace may need some extra support in the early days of their employment, to get accustomed to their new role and environment.


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