8 simple rules for youth recruitment...

March 29 2016  —  by Hannah O'Rourke, Communications Manager, Talent & Skills, Business in the Community

Last month CIPD hosted their annual Recruitment Conference and Workshop; featuring presentations from Swedish Video Game creator King, insurance firm AXA Insurance, music technology firm Shazam, new bank Virgin Money, hospitality firm Stonegate Pubs and restaurant chain Byron. Here’s what we learned:

  1. Technology can amplify the reach of companies to young people, particularly through gamification – the creation of online games for recruitment. After finding out that they had little brand presence among 18 to 23 year olds, AXA Insurance, created The Great Global Adventure to attract young people. Players were incentivised to share their progress on social media; and the game had 25,914 players, with an average game time of 44 minutes.

  2. Technology can help build proper feedback channels in recruitment. Ruthie Penfold, Director of Talent Acquisition at Shazam, explained that “technology has allowed me to become a human to recruits and develop relationships with them”. She uses LinkedIn, StackOverflow and Skype to keep in touch with applicants and manage the recruitment needs of a company of 250 people over 7 locations.

  3. You get the best results by engaging your employees in rethinking recruitment processes.  King, the Swedish creator of Candy Crush spent 1,000 minutes talking to 84 employees who came up with number of innovative ideas for new starters; including creating a ‘king-lish’ dictionary and relocation guides with information on where to eat, live and socialise in new cities. King lowered their attrition rate to between 3.5 and 5%. Stonegate Pubs ran focus groups to identify their core 7 strengths for recruitment. Byron, engaged their existing management on recruitment, resulting in a 50% drop in their 3 month staffing churn.

  4. You need to bring the whole of a company on board with recruitment. As Ruthie Penfold of Shazam; explained “It’s about winning the hearts and minds of the leadership to invest in recruitment”. She ensures all hiring managers across the company are trained in interviewing to make recruitment a priority. Even before a vacancy is advertised, 30 day, 90 day and 1 year KPIs for the job are agreed to ensure ongoing performance management matches recruitment expectations. This is important for youth recruitment, as a mismatch between an entry-level starter’s experience and managers’ expectations can put young people under pressure.

  5. Strengths based recruitment is essential for companies who employ young people. As Holly Cunnington, Head of Resourcing & Talent, Stonegate Pub Company told us “gone are the days of ‘tell us a time when…’” in youth recruitment. Stonegate employ many young people, and were struggling with a high staff turnover, losing 1 in 3 employees in the first 90 days. They moved from competency based assessment towards strengths-based assessment. The key was to train HR professionals in spotting what drained and energised applicants focusing on strengths rather than experience. Stonegate found that those hired through this approach performed better, picked things up quicker and fitted into the team more easily. Their 90 day attrition rate dropped, and perhaps most importantly, the recruits enjoyed the interview process.

  6. Experience-based recruitment means you get more out of your applicants. As Steve Morton, Head of People and Organisational Development said “Experienced-based assessment means people can’t prepare and you get their authentic selves”; something much deeper than just previous experience. Customer Service applicants at Virgin Money complete exercises like running the super hero hotline to test the accuracy of their information gathering skills and participate in a simulated party leadership Q & A to test how they react to difficult questions.

  7. Interesting recruitment methods can be used for more than just high level jobs. Virgin Money initially developed an experience-based recruitment process to publicise the new role of Head of Banking Innovation. High-profile applicants and journalists were invited to go went through a series of experiences to test different behaviours; including talking their way into a VIP night club and giving the England team their half time talk. After this Virgin Money explored how this innovative approach could practically be rolled out across their recruitment for entry level roles.

  8. You can start now. From Virgin Money sending feedback letters to all apprenticeship applicants to Byron introducing a ‘speed date your employer’ at their recruitment bootcamp; small changes can make a huge difference. At whatever level you are working within your organisation and at whatever scale, HR professionals can take action on this agenda now.


Hannah O'Rourke

Hannah O'Rourke, Communications Manager, Talent & Skills, Business in the Community