Young person baking yummy rolls at the bakery

6 tips to help you attract and hire young workers

13 April 2016

When you hire a young staff member, you can benefit from employing someone who is open-minded and flexible, open to new challenges, creative, motivated, technologically and digitally savvy, and eager to learn.

Young people can bring a broad range of skills, perspectives, fresh ideas and enthusiasm to your business, yet unfortunately some businesses miss out on these benefits by focussing too much on previous work experience. 

Investing in younger employees allows your business to build a strong talent pipeline, which can ensure your future workforce remains competitive. You’ll also be helping provide the opportunities and experiences that will assist them in becoming valuable members of the workforce.

Here’s a list of a few things you should think about when hiring young people, and some tips on developing a culture that fosters young people in your business. 

1. Don’t expect years of experience: focus on strengths instead

Everyone has to start somewhere. As many young people may be applying for their first job, it’s important that you don’t expect them to have a lot of previous experience. 

When deciding to recruit, it is important to consider whether the role really requires previous work experience or whether a combination of a good attitude and transferable skills is enough to build on. Having good communication skills, neat presentation, and being friendly, polite and reliable are all examples of transferable skills that can be used in a variety of roles, without necessarily requiring previous work experience. 

Using a strengths-based, rather than competency-based interviewing method can be helpful when hiring young people with little or no experience. Strengths-based interviews focus on finding out what the candidate likes doing, and their attitudes, motivations, and personal attributes, so that you can find out who would excel in the role and be the best fit for your business.  

2. Clearly explain the job

When writing a position description, it is important that you accurately describe the role, job requirements, and responsibilities in simple, clear, and detailed language. This is important for attracting a diverse range of candidates to apply for your position, regardless of age. 

Keep in mind that if they don’t have much experience behind them, young people may rely more on their personality, personal attributes, attitude and skills to determine whether they would be able to do the job.

For example, instead of asking for ‘excellent customer service skills’, you could say ‘excellent communication skills’ or ‘excellent interpersonal skills’. This allows your candidate to evaluate their skills that may be transferable, rather than ruling out the job because of a lack of previous experience.  

As with any employee, if a young person applies for a job based on a position description that is not accurate or lacks details, they may become disheartened and discouraged if they don’t get the job. 

However, if a position description clearly and accurately states the role and job requirements, your candidate can more easily evaluate their skills against the criteria and then decide whether to apply or not.  

3. Provide feedback

One of the most important things that you can do in the interview and application process is to provide honest and constructive feedback.  

Regardless of whether they get the job or not, keep in mind that a young person may not have applied for many jobs before or been to many interviews, so it’s important that you not only explain how they could improve in future job applications, but also include some positives. Including the positives will help them learn from the experience and make any changes for next time.  

Additionally, some young people may not have the guidance or support from family and friends to improve their résumé or application, so they may be relying on your feedback to keep improving the quality of their applications in the future. 

4. Have a good induction program

When a young person is starting in your workplace, you should consider having an induction or orientation program that is tailored to a younger audience. The induction should provide them with all the important information required to start their job, and make them feel welcomed and valued.  

You should give your new employee an in-depth tour of the workplace and include key information including the basics such as their work station, toilets, emergency exits and first aid. Make sure you also introduce them to their colleagues, supervisors, and managers. 

Show your new worker how to do the required tasks by first explaining and then demonstrating the task yourself. Be sure to point out safety procedures, risks and consequences so they know the preferred, correct and safe way to perform tasks. 

If you won’t be their direct supervisor, using a buddy or mentor system to help guide, monitor and assist your new employee when they first start can be useful. 

5. Let them know their rights and responsibilities

If you’ve offered a young person a job, one of the first steps is that you should explain and discuss the basics of the employment relationship so they can understand their rights and responsibilities in the workplace. Keep in mind that young people may not be aware of the laws that apply to their employment. 

You should let them know whether they are full-time, part-time or casual, their pay rate, payment cycle, and method of payment, hours of work, job duties, whether your business has an award or enterprise agreement, and if there is a probationary period for the job. 

You should also let them know what to do if they are sick or cannot turn up to work, the length of lunch breaks, and any uniform requirements. More information on what you should let new employees know can be found at the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website.  

6. Provide training and guidance

Training is an important part of improving your business and motivating employees. Young people can benefit from ongoing training and guidance to develop their skills, and it can be a valuable investment for your business in the long run.

Young workers are often more likely to apply for jobs when they know they will receive training, and like any employee, they are likely to be more motivated in the workplace when they understand what to do. Training and guidance can also help ensure a safer work environment. 

If your new employee asks to do a particular work related training program, you should consider it. It may even provide a positive boost for morale and productivity in your workplace. 

You should encourage young people to ask questions, ask for help whenever they need it, as well as provide ongoing supervision with lots of feedback on performance. Remember that what’s easy or obvious to you may not be so straightforward to someone new, regardless of age.

These are just a few tips for you to consider to help you hire, attract and retain young workers in your business, and help bring out their potential as valued employees.

If you are thinking about hiring someone new, you can also get in touch with a local jobactive providerto help you find the right staff to fit your business. The service they provide can include connecting you with opportunities to host a work experience placement in your organisation, or providing you with access to wage subsidies if you hire an eligible young job seeker.