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.