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March 19, 2020
How To Hire Entry-Level Employees: A Complete Guide
Liam Berry

A Complete Guide To Entry-Level Hiring—With A Focus On Diversity, Candidate Experience, And Efficiency

To hire entry-level employees in 2020, hiring managers, talent acquisition leaders, and campus recruiters need to work together to create a hiring process that works for recent—and soon-to-be—college grads. Your team can’t rely on a one-size-fits-all recruiting process to attract and secure diverse, qualified job-seekers in this generational cohort. 

The early talent population—made up mostly of Gen Z and young Millennial candidates—has its own set of questions, needs, and preferences. Learning how to cater to them is essential for your company and the success of your team. After all, Gen Z is expected to make up one-fifth of the workforce by 2021.

We’ve put together a complete guide on how to attract, recruit, engage, and hire entry-level employees from this new generation of workers. 

How To Tweak Your Recruiting Strategy For Entry-Level Talent

Entry-level job-seekers aren’t so different from your average experienced or executive-level hire. However, underestimating the importance of those differences can leave entry-level job candidates feeling alienated from your company and turning to more relatable, accessible competitors.

So, why is hiring for entry-level positions different from other roles? There are two primary differences when it comes to hiring for entry-level positions in 2020:

  1. The generational gap: As Class of 2018 graduates—the last group of Millennials—advance further in their careers toward associate- and manager-level roles, entry-level hiring has become all about Gen Z candidate preferences. Research shows that Gen Z has their own unique preferences when it comes to the job hunt. There are Gen Z–specific questions you need to be asking: How can you reach them? How can you attract and entice them? How can you create a candidate experience that leads to hiring the best, most diverse talent?
  2. Entry-level candidates are usually seeking their first full-time jobs. Finding an internship is one thing, but finding full-time employment after graduating from college is an entirely different task. This leaves them with substantial knowledge gaps—about everything from the interview process to assessing company culture. Not only will answering these questions give you an advantage in terms of candidate experience, but it will save you time and money down the line. A misinformed hire is not a good long-term investment. In fact, labor statistics show that 56 percent of entry-level hires plan to leave within two years.

Tailoring your strategy to entry-level hiring means having answers to questions about your recruiting team’s goals AND your target candidates’ preferences. Find where your top entry-level talent looks for jobs. Like most other demographics, Gen Z candidates overwhelmingly use online job boards, but many of them specifically use job boards for college students like WayUp, Handshake, and College Recruiter.

How To Determine The Characteristics You Need In Entry-Level Employees

To hire the right candidates, you need to create an entry-level candidate profile that works for your business. A candidate profile is an assessment of the characteristics, skills, and experience required to fill your roles. 

So, don’t just ask, “What qualities should you be looking for in entry-level employees?” Ask, “Which qualities should we be looking for in our entry-level employees?”

How do you create an entry-level candidate profile that attracts top talent? Your candidate profile will influence the way you market your roles and your company. The most obvious instance of this is your job description. To determine what should go into your candidate profile and job description, coordinate with both hiring managers and successful employees to see which traits are the hallmark of a great employee for a particular position.

Ask questions like:

  • Which soft skills are important on that particular team?
  • Which technical skills are most important for entry-level employees in this role?
  • What are the personality traits or characteristics that can make entry-level folks successful?

Of course, hiring managers and successful employees are the best resources for this kind of information, but it’s also important to look at competitors, too. What are the best companies in your industry looking for in their candidates? What are they putting in their job descriptions? Information like this can help you determine what you're missing and how to fill those gaps.

Early-Career Employer Branding: How To Advertise For Entry-Level Programs

Advertising entry-level job openings isn’t as simple as making sure people see your job posting on a particular platform. Gen Z candidates are digital natives who use more than just a job post to determine whether they should apply for your company. While the job post may be the first touchpoint, it will rarely be the last one before candidates hit "apply."

To make an entry-level job sound attractive and enticing, you need to have a holistic approach to employer branding. It’s often not the job that candidates are applying to, but the company. What can they learn about your company—and where? Cultivate a strong social media presence. Many of the most successful companies have accounts for both their consumer and employer brands. In terms of content, if your organization doesn’t have the budget or skill set to create articles, videos, and social media posts in-house, then consider partnering with a vendor who specializes in employer branding.

Where are the best places to advertise for entry-level job openings? Content, of course, is only half the battle. Distribution of both your well-crafted job postings and your employer branding content is your best shot at attracting a diverse slate of qualified candidates. If you’re producing content in house, then make sure to distribute it through your company’s most-followed social media channels like LinkedIn. Nearly 80 percent of job-seekers use social channels to research companies—which is a great opportunity to engage with interested applicants further. If you’re partnering with a vendor to make employer branding or recruitment marketing content, then make sure they have a distribution plan that aligns with your target audience.

Quick Wins: Tips For Entry-Level Recruiting

Not every strategy requires deep research or massive institutional overhaul. Some small changes can have huge impacts on your ability to hire top entry-level talent. Here are a few quick tips for optimizing your recruiting process and enhancing your efficiency.

Determine the right interview questions to ask entry-level candidates. Entry-level candidates are often short on the kind of experience needed to tackle behavioral questions. However, by refocusing these questions and letting candidates know that answers can pertain to experiences in school clubs, class projects, or volunteer work, you can get more telling answers and put candidates at ease.

Provide the right information in entry-level job descriptions. Job descriptions are often the first impression your employer brand makes on an individual. They shouldn’t be the last impression, but they might be if your job descriptions provide too few details or too much minutiae. Give them a broad overview of the role, the skills they’ll need, and what the company is like. And don’t forget—job descriptions are a give-and-take. Let them know what they might gain: mentorship, exposure, training, and more.

Automate applicant review, interview scheduling, and other tedious, time-consuming tasks. Many recruiters are uncomfortable admitting it, but much of their time is spent on largely mindless tasks like scheduling interviews, sending form emails, and reviewing applicants for basic criteria like visa status and willingness to relocate. Luckily, you can automate these things with the right technology and vendor partnerships, saving hundreds of hours and freeing you up to focus on the essentials.

Summary: Keep  Your Target Audience In Mind & Start Recruiting

In a highly competitive talent market, the recruiting process starts to look a lot like a marketing funnel. And the processes that create effective marketing—target market research, content creation, distribution, and rigorous data collection throughout—are the same ones that power effective recruiting strategies. You need to be doing the same thing when it comes to hiring entry-level employees.

Treat Gen Z candidates differently than you would experienced candidates. You have a responsibility, both to your company and to the candidates, to empower entry-level job-seekers with as much helpful and useful information as possible. This will lead to better interviews, better hires, and better outcomes for everyone involved.

Adjusting your messaging and strategy for entry-level talent can be challenging—but WayUp can help. WayUp’s team can get your team on-boarded and recruiting in as little as two weeks—and right now, that time is more important than ever.

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