Each week it seems there are more companies announcing layoffs and hiring freezes. At the same time, recruiters across industries are still struggling to fill positions.
Even though hiring efforts look different now compared to the inflated salary offers of the last year, applicants can still find a multitude of openings across job sites. With stacks of job openings, what can recruiters and chief human resources officers do to fill much-needed roles?
Early career talent can be the answer, according to recruiters and staffing agencies. These workers — typically recent graduates a few years into their careers, or workers new to an industry — can be a rich source of talent. But companies need to appeal to these young or new workers to recruit them.
Early career talent is trainable, eager, and loyal
Whether it’s age or newness to a field, early career talent might not have years of work experience, but they make up the difference with other traits, said Julie Godshall Brown, president and owner of Godshall Recruiting in Greenville, South Carolina. She said at the early stages of their career, workers are flexible, adaptable, and eager to learn.
On top of these characteristics, Godshall Brown said younger workers and those transitioning careers can be more tech-savvy than workers decades into their careers.
“The early-career job seekers are digital natives, so they’ve grown up with technology and certainly understand the usage of it, or are more open to the usage of it than people my age, where we’ve had to learn over time,” Godshall Brown said.
“If a media firm was hiring someone in social media, or in a digital role, a new grad may actually come in with more relevant experience from an internship than someone with five years at another company because that technology is changing so rapidly,” she added.
Companies in every industry should recruit early career talent because the investment pays off, said Tony Hoffman, vice president of recruiting at Orion Talent.
“In most instances, almost every sector would be better off hiring early, trainable, two-thirds-of-the-solution-type candidates that not only they can train and build within the organization from the ground up, almost like a grassroots campaign,” Hoffman said. “But the loyalty that it creates from that venture is unmatched.”
While early career talent can help solve hiring issues, it only happens if companies are willing to invest in this type of talent and the recruiters necessary to hire them, Hoffman said.
Companies focus on early career talent programs
Apprenticeships, internships, and early career programs are not new for most companies, but the last year of a tightened labor market prompted companies to get creative in attracting talent, and recruiting early career talent is another way for companies to fill positions.
“There’s an opportunity and a different perspective that new and recent grads bring into the organization. They’re motivated, they’re hungry, they’re ready to learn,” said Courtney McAtee, senior director of talent acquisition at Mailchimp, an email marketing company based in Atlanta, Georgia.
“The early career perspective, from a different generation, from a different part of the world, or from a different industry or background, is a unique and fresh perspective brought to the table,” McAtee said.
McAtee said Mailchimp’s investment in early career talent and their growth and training has proven to help with retention, and it leads to this talent moving into higher roles at the company.
“We know that investing in our early career folks, as well as our internal folks, is a proven retention strategy,” McAtee said. “We want to provide opportunities to grow not just upwards but sideways, with new experiences and new skills.”
Currently, for Unilever’s global workforce, over 80% of recruitment is dedicated to junior levels of the company, according to Placid Jover, chief HR expertise and innovation officer at Unilever.
Jover said a strategy for recruiting early career talent is critical, with roughly 84% of junior management roles in the U.S. filled with this talent.
“We aim to maximize our hiring efforts by viewing early careers as an ecosystem of talent that gives us access to a broad range of capabilities,” Jover said.
Change job descriptions to attract early career talent
Even with increased investment in early career recruiting, companies need to update their job descriptions to appeal specifically to early career talent.
If HR and talent acquisition teams take a harder assessment of their job descriptions, they’ll realize that most of them are too rigid, said Joe Marino, chief operating officer at Hueman People Solutions, a staffing and recruiting agency based in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.
“In today’s environment, with an imbalance between the supply and demand of candidates, companies should see that X number years of experience shouldn’t be required, it should just be preferred,” Marino said.
If required years of experience were removed, more early career candidates would apply, Marino added.
On top of the job description, recruiters should shift their perspectives from hiring a resume to hiring an actual person, whose experiences extend behind the resume, said Jennifer Cooper, senior vice president of recruitment process outsourcing operations at Hueman People Solutions.
“While companies might not have an applicant with the exact years of experience that they think they need, do they have someone that’s moldable, trainable, and willing to learn?’” she added.
Marino said he’s worked with employers who aren’t requiring college degrees, and even lowering requirements to certain assessments or certifications, to allow talent to come in and learn on the job.
“Candidates are looking for, ‘What’s in it for me?’” Cooper said. “If a job posting is just a list of the job requirements, and there’s nothing enticing or intriguing to the candidate, the job definitely loses its luster.”
By Mikaela Cohen