How to attract early careers talent

Attracting early careers talent requires recruitment rethinking. Here’s how to refresh a brand in order to prepare the pipeline for success. 

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The new world of work and recruitment puts hiring front and centre of any managers to-do list. Hiring the next generation of employees, leaders, change makers puts the focus on early careers recruitment. It requires making connection with, engaging with and retaining the interest and commitment of Generation Z job seekers. As hiring rates decrease (LinkedIn Global Talent Trends Report 2022) each and every hire counts. Finding the right person for every role is vital. For most employers this requires a rethink of candidate attraction techniques and most likely a revisiting of their whole recruitment process.

Attracting this new generation of talent requires employers to be more authentic and to have approached their recruitment and retention model in a holistic and value-based way. Employers are being expect to understand what their potential employees need and want in order to be interested.

If you’re actively recruiting, or even if you’re not, it’s worth working through the stages of refresh in order to prepare your pipeline for success. 

Reviewing and editing your recruitment and communications process in order to craft the formula for your early careers success should be front and centre of any business

– Emma Murray

Focus on Skills

The focus on skills is strong. Skills over experience. Valuing skills over background. Prioritising skills over previous employers. The first advantage to skills focus is the removal of barriers. Early careers candidates can often feel put off by a requirement of experience that many positions – even entry level – require. It can mean candidates may not even consider the company as a potential and attractive employer. Shifting a job description and role focus to the skills required can lift these barriers. It can open up your applicant pool to a broader socio-economic group and properly communicate the real day-to-day requirements of the position.  Shifting to a skills focus at the recruitment and interview stage is also a positive indicator for candidates that the potential for growth and development is real.

Rethink your Employer Brand 

Candidates are no longer focused entirely on salary. The top three employee values are compensation, work life balance and flexibility. Reviewing your Employer Brand to ensure that you properly communicate these values as they exist within your firm is important. Candidates are looking for roles within which they feel valued, where they can develop and where they can reach their potential. It’s also increasingly important to early careers talent that brands are socially conscious and sustainable, that they align with their own beliefs and future goals. Taking time to package up your company goals and purpose, to communicate them in a consistent and open way and to allow them to inform your recruitment process can open up your potential talent pool especially with the early careers demographic.  

Target the Right Channels in the Right Way 

Figure out how to meet your target candidates where they are. Use research, social media listening and a network of local businesses to figure out where your early careers candidates engage. Get involved in or host your own careers fairs. Undertake research to find out what sites your prospective candidates are using and when? Which are the physical locations where they spend time in? What information do they engage with? Figure out where it makes most sense to engage and then craft your messaging to fit the audience you want to talk to.

Youth Proof

‘Youth proof’ the job description you’re working with. If you have early careers candidates within your business, ask for their input. Involve them in the recruitment process to the extent that they can advise you on language and messaging to ensure it’s the most effective it can be. 



Review your Flexibility 

The preference, or even requirement for flexibility in the workplace is in high demand within Gen Z. Review your internal processes to evaluate how flexible your working environment is. If there is room for improvement, take action. Once you have, make sure to communicate your flexibility within your job description, your hiring process and your training. Flexibility might look like offering working from home options. It may involve contract positions, freelance hiring, remote work, or hybrid roles. It might support job sharing or gig projects. Be clear on what your conditions include and communicate them as central to your recruitment process. 

Ensure your Inclusivity 

Diversity and inclusivity should be at the heart of any strong recruitment process so review where you are with this. Work through the real requirements of the position in question. Can you remove or be more flexible with certain educational requirements that necessarily ostracise certain socio economic groups? Can you expand your scope to include a more diverse talent pool? Could you reframe your requirements to skills over experience, willingness to train over educational achievements? 

Build on your Opportunity and Development Offering

The scope to develop and reach personal and professional potential is of central focus to young job seekers. Learning, skills development and potential career advancement continue to rate highly on the priority list for Gen Z. What do you offer that aligns with this priority setting? Can you improve your opportunity and development offering? What is your internal mobility policy and how can you best communicate that with your prospective and current employees to improve retention as well as recruitment?

Perhaps you could consider offering interview preparation advice, or even resume guidance? There are myriad ways to invest in the future talent you wish to engage with.  It’s worth noting that setting in place real and rewarding career growth paths as well as skill development is of huge value and has been shown to increase employee retention by 7% as compared to companies who do not priority these aspects of employment (LinkedIn Global Talent Trends Report 2022). 

Lay the foundations for a Culture of Learning 

Build on your opportunity and development offering and lay the groundwork for a solid company culture of learning. Setting up Graduate Schemes or Apprenticeships, future CPD opportunities or mentoring programmes shows the willingness to continue to invest in your team no matter what career path they are on. Creating a culture of learning contributes to your employer value proposition and connects skills building to the bottom line. This investment in the future generation of business leaders and industry talent speaks to your Employer Brand and contributes to filling your employee funnel even when you’re not actively in a recruitment phase. 

Setting up a strong recruitment process to target and retain early careers individuals is of key importance. From properly understanding who your ideal candidates are, to meeting them where they are and having in mind what is most important to them. Reviewing and editing your recruitment and communications process in order to craft the formula for your early careers success should be front and centre of any business. 

“Attracting this new generation of talent requires employers to be more authentic”

Emma Murray