Breaking Down The Application Barriers For Young Job Seekers


by Judith Thorpe

26th July 2017

Research by Business in the Community and the City & Guilds Group recently reported that 2 in 3 young people found the job description they were reviewing difficult to understand. Other barriers include finding vacancies hard to find on employer websites, poor job descriptions and overly complicated application processes.

From the research we've picked out TEN techniques which will improve the application experience for young job seekers.

  1. Identify the role as an entry level position, highlighting this status clearly so that it stands out from all your other vacancies.
  2. Use your website or social media to de-mystify what it is like to work in your company by sharing a diverse selection of photos featuring real people at work.
  3. Don't ask for previous experience as this immediately makes young people assume they are not eligible to apply.
  4. Provide a good overview of what the role involves, making it easy for the applicant to understand if this is a role they would enjoy. A "day in the life" case study is a great way to bring the vacancy to life.
  5. Avoid jargon and make your narrative conversational. Interestingly, the research identified that language which focused on self-worth, such as "highly confident" and "high calibre" are intimidating, deterring application.
  6. Progression opportunities are the most important aspect of a role for young people so make sure these are outlined along with the training and support that will be provided within the role.
  7. Outline all the stages of your recruitment process with an approximate time-frame which includes when applicants are likely to hear back from you at each stage of the process.
  8. Make the application process relevant to the role and simple to follow. Best practice would include providing top tips or useful things to consider when completing the application.
  9. Use behavioural assessment to identify the behaviours and attitudes that demonstrate a young person's potential to excel in your business.
  10. It's likely that the applicant will have taken quite a bit of time with their application. There's a responsibility on the hiring company to do the same and acknowledging all applications and providing an opportunity to provide feedback is advised.

Grace Mehanna, Youth Employment Campaign Director, Business in the Community, said: "We're concerned that the unclear job adverts and inaccessible hiring practices are making it harder for young people to access employment. Our workshops that invite young people to assess job adverts provide the much needed bespoke constructive feedback that employers need to change this. From rewriting inaccessible job descriptions to outlining the application process for prospective candidates, there are some small practical changes businesses can make to improve their recruitment process for young people."

For a comprehensive checklist on creating accessible job vacancies for young people visit futureproof.bitc.org.uk. A copy of Business in the Community's "Future Proofing Youth Recruitment" report is available to download from: http://futureproof.bitc.org.uk/guidance-for-employers


This article was also published in the Recruitment Supplement of The Press and Journal on 28th July 2017.

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