Five job ad tweaks to make more young people apply to your company

Recruiting young people
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You’re recruiting for an entry level role, maybe an apprenticeship. It’s urgent, you’re stretched with limited HR resources and it’s the last thing on your mind. You reach for the job description template, maybe you even Google it. Sound familiar? 

With 71% of SMEs in the UK having recruited a young person in the last three years, and funding available to small business for employing apprentices, it’s a situation that more and more growing businesses are facing.
While it’s tempting to rely on outdated templates, the reality is that making a few key tweaks to your job advert or role description can make all the difference when it comes to attracting young people to your roles.
Over the past year, we’ve been working with the City & Guilds Group to conduct a UK-wide review of company recruitment processes, in particular exploring how accessible and attractive they are for young people. 

Across the country, we’ve brought together groups of young people to assess the entry level recruitment processes of over 100 employers who collectively employ over two million people in the UK. 
There were some common findings – most notably that two-thirds (66%) of the young people who assessed the company vacancies said they didn’t understand the role they would actually be applying to. This is a particularly major barrier for young people who may not have had previous work experience or prior knowledge of the workplace. 

How can employers change this? Here are our top five tweaks to make your next job advert more attractive to young applicants: 

1. Ditch the Jargon - be clear about the day-to-day responsibilities of the role

Having been working in an industry for so long, it’s easy to forget how much jargon is used day to day in the workplace and how excluding this can be for people who are starting their careers. Over a third of the job adverts we assessed contained unclear jargon, acronyms or technical language which put young people off applying, and over half of them did not have a clear job description which outlined the day-to-day responsibilities of the role. 

2. Back to basics – make sure you include key details about the office or site location of the job, the salary, hours and contract type 

From our research, we found that so many of the vacancies failed to include basic information about the job in the descriptions. Shockingly one-in-three didn’t mention salary, two-in-five didn’t state working hours and one-in-seven didn’t give a specific location for the job. These key details can make all the difference when young people are deciding whether to apply. They need to know where the role is based, whether they can get there and if it fits around any existing commitments.

3. Demystify the recruitment process - provide a clear timeline and explanation of the stages

Our research found that there was a serious lack of transparency about the actual application process. Over half of the vacancies assessed didn’t outline the stages of the recruitment process and 62% didn’t include a timeframe for the process. For many young people, this is the first time they have applied for a job and these missing details make the process much harder. 

Employers need to provide more information about the stages of the recruitment process, a timeframe and estimated start date. If you explain the process, young people are better able to adequately prepare. Also, many young people will be submitting multiple applications at the same time, so a clear time frame is invaluable.

4. Progression matters - outline any future opportunities for progression or training 

Back in 2016, we surveyed 4,000 young people about their experiences of applying for jobs. They told us that one of the most important aspects they looked for in a role was the opportunity to progress. By outlining the progression pathways either within your business or your industry you can make your entry level role much more attractive to enthusiastic young applicants who are keen to develop. It’s also useful to mention any training that may be available, including any provided as part of an apprenticeship etc.

5. Make your youth-friendly culture more visible 

Participants in our research often said they would find it daunting to apply for a role at a company if it didn’t seem like many other young people worked there. If you already employ young people, it’s key that you make this visible in your job adverts. You can do this either by including a day-in-the-life profile featuring one of your existing young employees or just by explaining what makes the company a great place for a young person to work. If you have a section on your website to advertise your careers, you can convey this by including photos of your existing young diverse employees and blogs or news about company outings or events.

Get more tips on how you can make your recruitment more youth friendly by downloading Business in the Community’s free guide for employers.

About Grace Mehanna

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