Are young people being disadvantaged by outdated recruitment?

Written by
Grace Mehanna

23 Mar 2017

23 Mar 2017 • by Grace Mehanna

Often, conversations about hiring young people focus on ‘fixing’ the young person to get through outdated recruitment methods, rather than adapting the processes.

Many businesses fail to use recruitment to assess the experience, skills and behaviours of the future workforce. Tired experience based interview questions remain commonplace and application forms rarely ask about non-traditional ways to gain valuable skills, such as volunteering.

This puts young jobseekers at a disadvantage. With jobs changing rapidly and a new generation entering the labour market, things must change. That’s why Business in the Community, working with City & Guilds Group, launched Future Proof, a campaign to challenge and support employers to take steps to update recruitment for the next generation.

Young people falling into an 'experience trap'

Over the past year we’ve surveyed more than 4,000 young people aged 18-24, about their experiences of recruitment, run in-depth focus groups and examined recruitment processes for entry-level jobs. It has helped us identify best practice and uncover hidden barriers.

Some 57% of young people thought their lack of previous experience hindered them. This ‘experience trap’ – the requirement to have previous experience in order to gain experience – still remains a frustrating hurdle for those looking to secure their first job. Other barriers could be easier to fix. For example, the young people in our focus groups found that less than a quarter of the roles they examined contained a clear outline of the stages in the recruitment process, including a timeframe; 31% of survey respondents said not knowing what was expected of them made the process difficult. Lack of transparency about role requirements was a recurring theme. 

Almost half of all entry-level job descriptions contained jargon, with many saying it put them off applying. The insights we’ve gathered are not only key for campaigners like us looking to reduce youth unemployment, but also for employers. We’ll soon be releasing full findings of our research, plus guidance on removing hidden barriers to young people entering the labour market.

Young people are open, transparent and keen to develop. Our aspiration is for employers to develop recruitment processes that match these qualities.