Attracting and Supporting Early Career Talent

Hiring early career talent? What you need to know about attracting, upskilling, and retaining them

Hiring early career talent has all sorts of benefits for your organization. Whether you’re bringing in someone who is new to the workforce in general or new to working in a traditional office environment, you could be getting in on the ground floor with amazing talent that hasn’t yet had the chance to shine. However organizations that embrace this approach with entry-level or early career talent must understand how to attract and support this segment of the workforce as their needs and concerns often differ from those with more traditional educational and professional backgrounds. 

In this post, we’re going to explore how you can attract entry-level and early career talent to apply for jobs, where they may need extra upskilling on the job, how to develop those skills, and how you can engage and support them more generally with an eye toward retention and productivity. Ready? Let’s go!  

How to attract and engage early-career talent

Even if you feel like your employment brand and employee value proposition are on point, you might want to do a little market segmentation if you’re serious about bringing in more early-career/entry-level candidates. Ask yourself, what does this group want from an employer? What might make them interested in working for you? More importantly, once you hire them, what will make them more likely to stay?

This population wants respect. They want to know that just because they maybe did not follow a traditional path to employment (e.g., only having an associates degree or high school diploma, etc.) doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities open to them. Also, they want to know that there is support tailored to their needs. Here are a few examples of how employers can make themselves a more attractive, engaging place for early career talent:    

  • Highlight success stories of newly hired talent internally and externally 
  • Offer clear, skills-based career progression paths regardless of academic qualifications
  • Provide “wraparound support” for childcare resources, transportation, etc., and make them available on day one of work 
  • Positive affirmation and recognition (this is particularly important for managers to practice)
  • Learning and onboarding programs that give them the opportunity to be successful in your organization

Which skills do early career talent need to be successful at your organization? 

Every business is different. But we often see that even the most talented early career hires may need a little help learning some of the professional or soft skills needed to perform and grow at your organization. Some of these opportunities for growth may include but are by no means limited to: 

  • Strong communication and the ability to convey ideas clearly
  • Seeking out feedback and using it to improve 
  • Cultivating a learning-oriented growth mindset
  • Time management and the ability to manage multiple projects at the same time
  • Networking with co-workers, mentors, and leaders to grow and shape their careers
  • Basic computer skills (e.g., MS Office, email, virtual meeting software, etc.)
  • Collaboration and the ability to work on a team
  • Working independently, but asking for help when needed

Now that we listed all those skills out, you’re probably wondering how to make sure your new hires learn them. 

How can you help new hires develop these skills?

  1. Build a solid onboarding process

Onboarding matters, it sets the tone for your whole relationship with early career talent. For people who haven’t worked in a professional setting before, this is your opportunity to establish company norms (e.g., typical hours, breaks, how the average day or week will go).  The better your people understand their first professional job the better positioned they will be to perform well early on. Many organizations provide new hires “buddies” or mentors to make sure talent have someone in addition to their manager to look to for advice and support in their early days. Finally, use technology to support your onboarding processes. Virtual welcome parties and meetups can be tremendously helpful if your workforce is geographically dispersed. 

  1. Encourage regular check-ins or one-on-ones with managers and other leaders

As early career talent gets their feet wet in your organization, frequent contact with managers and leaders is important to ensure everyone gets the support, coaching, and encouragement they need. Many organizations we work with intentionally schedule a few in check-ins for the first 30 or even 60 days of employment. Frequent interactions of this sort are also a great way to identify any problems or opportunities in your onboarding processes. 

  1. Support participation in team projects with other departments

Cross-functional project work builds organizational knowledge and collaboration skills. Find ways to ensure people are getting opportunities to work on projects outside their narrow job description. These kinds of “mini-internships” will build internal networks of multifaceted expertise that strengthens your people as individuals and the organization as a whole. This also builds a foundation for early career talent to build their social capital network within your organization which will create higher engagement and retention. In other words, put your new hires in this environment and watch them grow! 

  1. Create an open environment where asking questions and seeking clarity is welcomed. 

People learn by asking questions. If employees don’t feel comfortable asking questions, their learning curve will increase. For example, you might want to consider creating weekly Q&A sessions for the first 30 to 90 days of employment to create good habits of communication and feeling safe asking for help. Managers and supervisors have a major role to play in creating safe spaces for early career talent to ask questions and develop their knowledge base. 

Investing in early career talent.

Hiring early career talent and prioritizing skills over pedigree can transform your approach to talent, increase diversity, drive engagement and enable you to close future skill gaps. However, your organization may need to adjust its strategies and processes for attracting, onboarding, and engaging this talent segment. We hope this post will help you create an employee experience that engages early career talent and sets them up for success and productivity. 

We love talking about this stuff! If you’re interested in setting up a casual conversation with one of us. Feel free to reach out and we’ll put something on the calendar.

The information in this blog post is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. YUPRO Placement is not a law firm and does not provide legal services. The information in this blog post is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice from a qualified attorney. If you have any legal questions, you should consult with an attorney.

The views expressed in this post are the opinions of YUPRO Placement and are not necessarily the opinions of any other person or entity. YUPRO Placement does not make any representations or warranties about the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information in this post. YUPRO Placement reserves the right to change or update the information in this post at any time without notice. For detailed advice or guidance on specific matters, please consult with a qualified attorney.

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