The hiring race is on! With an unprecedented labor shortage, lower college enrollments, and an increased need for highly-skilled workers; businesses are scrambling to one-up their competition when it comes to hiring young talent.

How to Hire Top Early Career Talent Before Your Competitors

The hiring race is on! With an unprecedented labor shortage, lower college enrollments, and an increased need for highly-skilled workers; businesses are scrambling to one-up their competition when it comes to hiring young talent.

This is a boon for new college grads. One survey showed that employers plan to hire 14.7% more 2023 graduates than the preceding class! That means competition is set to heat up even more when it comes to early career hires.

So, what’s your strategy to stand out from other businesses and be the ones to poach these young employees? Because if you’re sticking to the same old same old, you might find yourself struggling to fill positions in this climate.

Here are four ways you can update your early career hiring methods to acquire more top tier talent before your competitors.

1. Look for Passion, Not Accolades and Experience

When it comes to hiring recent grads, you can’t only look at their resumes. Sure, their immaculately formatted PDFs may be filled with college achievements, honors list accolades, and some work experience; but it’s hard to gauge whether a candidate is going to be successful at your company from just those things.

Instead, we like what Matthew Kline, Chief People & Experience Officer at Greenlots, said:

My recommendation is to pivot away from over-assessment of experience, proven competence and pedigree. Rather, leverage tools and assessments that help focus on aptitude, capability and motivation. Not only are they better predictors of longer-term potential, but they also open employers up to a broader pool of diverse talent and create for a more positive candidate experience along the way. - Source

There are aptitude tests your business can leverage, and for high-salary roles, they can be incredibly useful. But another way to gauge candidates is to look for passion in their side projects.

Were they leaders of organizations? Did they work on their own projects without monetary compensation? After all, would you rather interview someone with an English major, or someone who has been running their own blog for years, writing content constantly as their passion?

Relevant skills can be taught, but motivation and passion can’t be. And research has consistently shown that motivation is more associated with learning outcomes than just cognitive ability. By looking for these traits, you can pluck future superstars that your competitors may overlook at first glance.

And a great way to gauge passion?

2. Leverage Internships

Internships are basically a cheat code to not only find, but to shape, top early career talent that’s specific to your business. By recruiting college students who are eager to learn about modern careers, you can teach them the exact tech stack they need, acclimate them to your company culture, and get in front of them long before your competitors do.

In fact, 80% of interns who are offered jobs from the companies they interned with accept them. That’s a tremendous conversion rate when it comes to hiring, but you’re also hiring a known entity that you’ve expressly trained to your business’ specific needs. That translates into a huge advantage for both their career path as well as closing your company’s skills gap.

With this in mind, don’t be afraid to pay your interns above market value in order to attract them to your company. Consider it an investment into a future top hire. Also, think through your internship program to make it less like data-entry busy work, and more like a training system to teach the necessary skills they need to be a top tier candidate. While this takes time, oversight, and mentorship; a great internship program can help you create an evergreen talent pipeline that your competitors won’t have access to.

3. Craft a Brand that Attracts Gen Z Candidates

Due to the labor shortage, graduates will have the luxury of being picky when it comes to where they want to work. Your company has to keep up and display a brand that aligns with Gen Z sensibilities. If you’re not a cool brand, not only will they not apply to work there, they’ll tell their friends not to as well.

Courting Gen Z is an entire article of its own. Luckily, we’ve written about this very topic before: how to build your brand to attract Gen Z employees. But the gist is that your brand should show itself to be “employee-centric” more than ever before. Because Gen Z desires jobs that are an extension of their life, instead of apart from it, knowing that your brand puts people first will go a long way in endearing your company to young talent.

For example, according to Monster: 91% of college grads and 83% of non-college candidates say it’s important to them to feel comfortable discussing mental wellness at work. Does your company have ways to care for employee mental health already established? If not, lay the groundwork so you can tout it as a major benefit on your careers page and on your job posts.

4. Hire Quickly (and Even Quicker!)

No matter how great a talent a candidate is, their attention span is probably small. It’s not their fault, that’s just how the world is moving. So when things take too long, Gen Z tends to check out.

A Careerbuilder study (via SHRM) showed that “60% of job seekers quit in the middle of filling out online job applications because of their length or complexity.” Especially when hiring recent graduates, a lengthy application process is patently ridiculous. They barely have any experience to speak of, and you’re having them fill out multiple pages?

Instead, it should be nearly a one-click process to get their resumes uploaded. Or, savvy businesses can check out online profiles that have already been created to save the applicants the hassle.

Slow hiring is a real concern for your business that can put you well behind your competition. 74% of recruiters say they have been ghosted by Gen Z candidates, and the top reason for that is that they had already accepted a different position. Be too slow in your hiring process at your own skills gap peril!

Instead, be prompt with replies and the hiring process to retain more top early career talent. Leverage new tech-based hiring methods like text messages and various video techniques to increase hiring speed.

Need help finding and hiring young employees? PathMatch can help your business connect with a pool of qualified candidates. Start browsing profiles today!