Three huge mistakes to avoid when recruiting young people

Chris Jones, Chief Executive of the City & Guilds Group outlines the major mistakes made by companies when recruiting young talent.

Businesses need young people.

They bring fresh perspectives, help fill skills gaps and are increasingly needed as older workers retire.

But if your recruitment practices aren’t youth friendly, you’re letting some of the best candidates slip through the cracks.

The City & Guilds Group and BITC commissioned a survey of 4,000 18-24 year olds to find out their experiences when applying for work. It revealed three major recruitment mistakes that employers make – errors that could seriously damage their businesses.

  1. Making the application process difficult

    Some companies think that having a difficult application process is a great ‘weeding out’ tool. And sometimes it can be clever. The Guardian recently recruited for more developers by embedding the words ‘we are hiring’ in their code. 

    But for most jobs, a convoluted application process is just a massive confidence killer for those who find it hard. That will include many young people - keep in mind that they may be applying for their first job ever, and need a bit more support.

    Plus, one in five young people said a difficult process puts them off the company entirely. You could risk losing a major customer base for good.

  2. Requiring experience

    The biggest barrier by far for young people is lack of experience. It affected 63% of women and 52% of men that were surveyed. Many said they were stuck in a frustrating loop of not being able to get a job without work experience, but not getting work experience because they can’t get a job.

    To be fair, employers can get hundreds of applicants for one vacancy; it seems safest to take the one with the most experience. But it’s worth seeing if you really require experience for an entry level job. If not, asking for it will mean you miss some of the best new talent.

  3. Not giving feedback

    If you interview a handful of eager candidates and then select the best one, how do you turn the others down?

    You may want to re-think the quick courtesy email and consider providing them with quality feedback instead. More than a third of those who received feedback after an interview found it useful. Yet, 35% of women and 23% of men surveyed said they’ve never received any feedback at all.

    Giving young people a few post-interview pointers could be a great service for their future careers.  And it will likely leave them with a much better impression of your company.

So-called ‘Millennials’ are expected to be half of the workforce by 2020. Use these guidelines and your company will stand a much better chance of getting the best ones through your door.

Find more tools and examples of how to attract and recruit young people from the Future Proof website.

Read the throughts of Grace Mehanna, Campaign Director of BITC’s Talent and Skills team on why businesses need to rethink how they recruit young people.

Comments (1)

Dear Chris, In addition to your comments, it is clear that company directors have been seduced by the power of the recruitment industry, and, thus, this dominance has had a large dose of inability engage, listen and to empower job seekers. Also, with the fragmentation of work programs in our communities, it is clear that they are all doing the same things - in terms of policy and practice. Let's be clear, we have so much skills and talent in our communities, but the process in which it should be valued and harnessed remains flawed. This is having a negative impact to our young people - as it is to job-seeking candidates, overall. With regards to mental health and isolation becoming the growing "effect" of such causation, national and local authorities seldom inform what Is a correlation between Mental Health, Unemployment and "Unfulfilling" Employment. Why is this? Thus, we all these failings we see a disconnection between policy and people, local authorities out-of-touch with what support they offer to these correlation factors, and "isolation" becoming the norm in people's lives. We have to be broad in how we discuss or confront in practice the polices aimed at supporting job-seeking candidates. While there should always remain a vital need to refer to Young people, we must also recognise that all age groups, including the 50s age group, are affected by this. But, let's also recognise the "opportunity" that exist to utilise these viable, resourceful minds and to build something much better that can exploit a turmoil market while protecting the dignity of job-seekers as we prepare them for the world of work. There remains a myth that focuses solely on job-seeking producing the best possible CV in order to achieve goals. I believe this is outdated. As an innovator, we have to recognise that a CV alone can breakthrough barriers. The service provision has to recognise that "business" demands that they invest in partnership-building with a diversity of employers - better still, company directors. Finally, I am in no doubt that company directors need to get back into their driving seats and, once again, be the Inspiration that attracts new skills, talent and potential into their developing business models. Best. Ivor Sutton