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Recruiting young people: best practice

In difficult times, young people can be particularly disadvantaged when it comes to recruitment and selection. As they leave school, college and/or university, they can bear the brunt of the economic downturn and find it difficult to compete in a jobs market which becomes more competitive with fewer opportunities and increased demands. This means there can be thousands of young local people with up-to-date skills, enthusiasm and a willingness to learn looking for work.

Despite often having less experience of work, young people can be a great addition to the workplace, often demonstrating equal or superior capabilities to more experienced employees in areas such as:

  • Willingness to learn
  • Ability to get on with other staff
  • Positive attitude to work
  • Ability to follow instructions.

How is recruiting young people different?

Traditional approaches to recruitment and selection often focus on the candidate’s previous work experience, which can sometimes create barriers to the recruitment of young and longer-term unemployed people. Instead, you could focus on the individual’s potential by assessing skills and attributes which may have been developed in a range of learning or life contexts.

Making recruiting methods more inclusive

Most recruiters follow a traditional recruitment process of advertising their vacancy and requesting applications by CV or application form and then inviting shortlisted candidates to attend an interview.

The interview is usually a CV or ‘unstructured’ interview, which gathers general information about the interviewee and their employment history but does not test any specific capability or personal attribute.

In an unstructured interview, the candidate is judged on the general impression that he/she leaves. The process is therefore likely to be more subjective and can disadvantage young people with less experience and those who are currently unemployed.

Many recruiters have found that by focusing on candidates’ capabilities rather than previous experience, they have been able to successfully select the candidate that displays the most appropriate skills and attributes for the role.

Standard recruitment methods can be lengthy, expensive and time consuming. A process that aims to gain insights into individuals’ capabilities can lead to better results as well as helping you to be more inclusive.