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An Inside Out Approach to Recruiting Entry Level Talent


Attracting and retaining top-notch entry-level talent is not only of paramount importance to organizations but one of the biggest challenges organizations face. Often, the traditional recruitment strategies might not suffice in bringing the best out of the talent pool. To overcome this challenge, HR professionals need to have an inside-out approach to recruitment.  This may cause them to venture out of their comfort zone and experiment with innovative hiring strategies. 


In writing this blog, I met with Matt Luensmann, Owner and Lead Recruiter at MJL Recruiting & Consulting.  Matt has extensive experience in recruiting at all levels of the organization and, in our conversation, stated that “These [entry level] roles are the hardest, yet most important roles to fill in organizations.”  He shared that companies not only need to be creative to recruit for these roles, but to look internally first to ensure you have the right culture, leaders and employee experience to attract talent to your organization.  That’s where we start.


Start With Looking Internally

Prioritizing candidate experience and employer branding presents a unique and effective strategy for hiring entry-level talent. When it comes to attracting quality talent, a smooth and positive candidate experience can work wonders. It's all about making the candidate feel valued from the get-go. From the application process to the final stages of onboarding, every interaction should leave the candidate with a favorable impression of your company. This approach can significantly enhance the quality of your hires and elevate your company's standing in the eyes of potential candidates.


Then, we delve into the power of employer branding. This essentially means shaping the perception of your organization as a great place to work. An attractive employer brand is a magnet for top talent. When candidates perceive your company as a workplace that fosters growth and promotes a positive work environment, you're likely to draw in high-caliber entry-level talent. This could be through showcasing your unique culture, presenting testimonials from happy employees, offering unique benefits, or demonstrating your commitment to employee development and engagement.  Matt states, “You need to stand out from other companies and show why your company is better and different.  We know that in these roles, the pay isn’t that great and the hours are not usually the best, so what else can you do to stand out?”


Pairing a positive candidate experience with strong employer branding creates a powerful synergy. It sends a clear message to potential hires that your organization values its employees and offers a supportive and dynamic work environment. This approach not only improves your chances of attracting the best talent but also contributes to employee retention in the long run. And who wouldn't want to work for a company that puts its employees first? 76% of candidates want to know about team culture and values before accepting a job offer. So, are you ready to amp up your employer brand and provide a stellar candidate experience? Remember, your next star entry-level hire could be just around the corner!


Meet Them Where They Are

Recruiting entry level talent requires you to get in front of them and meet them where they are.  This means, going to high schools, colleges, unemployment offices and other locations where you can get in front of them to show your employer brand and attract the talent.  Building relationships with guidance counselors, unemployment offices, and career counseling services can help you get in front of candidates and be front of mind when candidates are looking.  


Separately, Matt shares, “It’s a Gig Economy and there are many candidates, like moms, retirees and freelance workers, looking for something to do but with non traditional hours. Could you get creative to offer flexible hours, remote work or part time jobs to these candidates to attract a new pool of candidates?”  This is another great example of meeting the talent where they are.  Could you hire two part time individuals instead of one full time person, if you’re struggling to fill the full time role?  My mother is a retired teacher and works a few days a week at Hannafords.  She absolutely loves it.  She’s reliable, great with customers and will take on extra shifts as needed.  Thinking outside of the box on what the right candidate is can help you find and retain talent.



Referral Program

If you have a strong culture, a great employer brand, a strong employee experience, and great leaders, then roll out a referral program for your current team.  I know that this is not a revolutionary idea, but studies show that when employees have friends at work, they stay longer.  Your employees will only refer people if they feel like their friends would do well there.  Companies have seen zero results with referral programs, even when offering huge incentives, when their culture is not where it needs to be.  Train your front line leaders, build a solid culture, invest in your people and you will see the change in your referral program.  



Get Ready For Gamification!

Imagine turning the hiring process into an exciting game, where potential candidates eagerly participate and demonstrate their skills. This is the power of gamified recruitment practices, a rising trend in the HR landscape. Far from being a mere entertaining exercise, this method brings along a wealth of benefits. 78% of surveyed people said that gamification in recruiting would make a company or position more desirable to them.


When you transform recruitment tasks into game-like scenarios, candidates often respond more authentically. Conventional interview questions may sometimes result in rehearsed answers, but when faced with a game, candidates must think on their feet, displaying their true skills and problem-solving abilities. Additionally, these games can be designed to simulate real workplace challenges, providing a glimpse of how the candidate would handle such situations.

But the advantages aren't one-sided.


Candidates, particularly the younger generation, appreciate innovative and interactive hiring processes. These games can lighten the atmosphere, making the process less intimidating and more enjoyable. Plus, a unique recruitment experience like this can make your organization stand out, increasing the likelihood of attracting top entry-level talent.

Gamified recruitment isn't about winners or losers; it's about creating a dynamic platform to evaluate potential hires. 


We’re still in a war for talent, especially when it comes to the front lines in our organizations.  People want to work for organizations that are people first and their recruitment practices, employer brand and leaders need to be 100% aligned with that. Matt shared with me, “People want to know that they are cared about and not just a number.”  Before writing off recruiting as broken, look first at the organization internally.  As we said earlier, it’s an inside out approach to recruiting, the results will help you recruit and retain great talent.

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