Access to First Jobs
10 Apr 2021
Applying for a new job can be an exciting time. You’re feeling confident about your chances after crafting an engaging cover letter and making sure your resume is up to date with your latest achievements. You click the submit button and then...nothing. You receive very little communication from the employer and, more importantly, you have no idea where you went wrong and how you could improve.
While this is an experience that is common for many, data shared with the My First Job Working Group from one of our recruitment partners identified that this experience is particularly stressful for young people. When young people were asked about the recruitment process, they stated that there were most stressed after they apply for a job. They cite the lack of communication around what happens next and the overall level of feedback as the key reason for stress and feeling discouraged. While this creates a negative experience for a young person, the working group was also informed that this can create a negative association with their brand, creating a reputation risk for the business.
This feedback directed the working group to consider the ways that young people Access first jobs from the way job ads are written to the level of transparency in the hiring process from an applicant’s perspective. Providing ways to improve that process and allow opportunities for young people to show their strengths and feel like their time engaging in the process has been fair and valuable, providing an opportunity to learn and improve even if they did not gain employment was seen as important. This would create a benefit for the young person, in terms of feeling valued and less stressed during the process. Businesses would also gain value by ensuring the young person has positive connections with the brand and maintain their reputation through good user experience.
To improve Access to First Jobs the working group developed the following recommendations:
1. Employers provide more transparency in the hiring process for young people
Current hiring processes utilised by many businesses create a high level of anxiety for young people due to the high level of unknowns, lack of communication, and limited feedback. Young people lacked clarity around the various stages of the hiring process and what employers would be looking for in that process. The addition of algorithms in hiring decisions also risks further depersonalising hiring systems and entrenching pre-existing biases because their decision-making processes are hidden from applicants. Young people do not know what aspects of their application will be used in decision-making and how the data they provide will be weighted.
Establish a minimum level of expected communication between employers and young people throughout the recruitment process, which is clearly communicated to the candidate. Make it clear to applicants how responses will be weighted, and decisions made based on the information provided.
2. Young people are provided more opportunities to practice accessing first jobs
Young people can access many resources and supports to learn about the recruitment process, but there are limited ways to connect that theory into practice in a safe way. For many young people, just reading content about how to apply for jobs is not enough, particularly if they lack access to personal support networks. Young people need opportunities to practice and receive feedback on all aspects of the recruitment process so they can develop into better candidates.
Develop online training environments where young people can experience the process of applying for a job and participating in an interview where they receive actionable feedback on how they could improve. The model could also be expanded to include the development of more serious games around employment. These games build a young person’s understanding of their skills and career options as well as their ability to evaluate career advice before showing the young person’s compatibility with certain jobs and provide constructive feedback in a fun and engaging environment.
3. Employers and recruitment platforms work together on a first job appropriate recruitment process
Approaches to recruiting older employees, who may have significant experience, are not always suitable for young people. Language in job ads that rely on ‘corporate speak’, hard requirements such as years of experience, and the way interview questions are structured are just some of the elements that can filter out and limit the opportunities for young people.
Develop a best practice guide for implementing a first job appropriate recruitment process. This could include how to write first job appropriate job ads and sample interview guides. For a young person, this could mean instead of needing to have three years’ experience for an entry-level role they instead need to demonstrate their “100 Points of ID for Employment”. Employers would identify the key indicators of what they think will make a young person succeed in the role, which young people can then provide evidence for.
4. Create alternative ways for young people to demonstrate their skills by developing Skills Passports or Work Profiles
Young people, particularly those with limited work experience, have difficulty demonstrating the wide variety of skills they have, including their soft skills. This is an impediment when they attempt to find employment through traditional methods.
Develop a digital platform which assists a young person to build a Work or Skills profile. The profile would be based off an assessment and questionnaire process aimed at drawing out the young person’s strengths and demonstrating how their existing experience, skills, knowledge, abilities, interests and as behavioural fit can be demonstrated in an application process. The platform would help the young person to map out their possible employment pathway but would be dynamic. The young person could compare, contrast, update, and refine their pathway as they learn more about themselves and the different opportunities available. Employers would be able to tap into this information when a young person applies, providing a wealth of information on what the young person is likely to be like as an employee and their suitability/fit. The Work Profile would contain the information necessary for the young person to demonstrate their “100 Points of ID for Employment”. As a young person progresses on their path, connections with services, supports or just-in-time guidance could be provided to aid their pathway.
Implementing the proposed recommendations would provide young people with the best opportunity to showcase their skills and potential to an employer. Young people would have more clarity over what is expected of them and would be better prepared, which means employers more accurately assess whether a young person is the right fit for the job and avoid missing out on potentially valuable candidates who do not fit a traditional mould.