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What are the your barriers to hiring greatness?

In our last two articles we have been exploring the hidden talent eluding many employers, amongst younger and more diverse candidates between the ages of 16 and 24. In particular, we have looked at what makes someone employable and how we redefine that when it comes to nurturing new talent rather than recruiting those who are established in their skill sets.

Of course, shifting to a recruitment strategy that focuses on nurturing young talent presents both opportunities and challenges for businesses. In this article we wanted to explore some of those barriers to change to attest to their prevalence and see how they can be mitigated against or overcome.



4 Typical barriers to recruiting younger talent

Most employers that we speak to are eager to find ways to support young people with employment opportunities. They can see the merits for the organisation today and in the future, and also recognise the importance of providing job opportunities. 

However, it’s perfectly reasonable to be apprehensive about changing the way you do things, particularly if you own or work in an SME with financial and time limitations when it comes to providing training or the risk of not getting jobs done. 

Typically we have found that most employers feel the following areas are potential barriers to recruiting more younger people in their organisation:

Where to start

We all get into habits and tend to cleave to the things that we know - the same can be said of recruitment. If you have go-to platforms and processes for recruitment, you know they will attract a certain type of candidate and that’s worked for you for a long time, then it’s reasonable to question why or how you would change? 

We have outlined the reasons why you might want to reconsider that approach in our last article. However, how you go about finding or attracting a different employee demographic can feel like a time consuming shift. It means thinking about not only about where you advertise job vacancies, but also HOW you advertise them. 

Changing your mindset 

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges for employers who want to shift their recruitment strategy is adapting the company mindset. The starting point is deciding that you want to change your approach. As a company leader, there’s a need to ensure that this decision is felt company wide, especially by those who are managing the recruitment process. 

In addition, it requires a change in your understanding of the skills you’re looking for, considering how you will approach interviews with people who have not interviewed before, and how you identify and quantify the skills you value in people who are new to the career market and who may not have finished formal education. You might need to think about how you can support them in their career development. It also means considering how functions and capabilities are going to be met within the organisation while new recruits build their professional skills and taking a long-term view.

Understanding the challenges that young people face

While some young people just need professional development and support, others face additional challenges that influence their entry into the modern working world. In 2016, Rosi Prescott, Central YMCA’s Chief Executive, wrote about the challenges young people face when preparing for work, based on the World of Good report. She noted, in particular, five key areas including: 

  • Lack of employment opportunities 
  • Failing to succeed within the education system (e.g. not being given support with studies when needed) 
  • Issues of body image 
  • Family breakdown 
  • Substance abuse 

Since then, we know that additional challenges have developed and are becoming better understood, such as social media and mental health difficulties. A 2019 report from the YMCA noted that at that time an estimated 1.25 million children and young people had been diagnosed with a mental health difficulty in the UK.

Creating a supportive infrastructure 

As mentioned, younger employees who are starting out in their careers need a different type of support to those who are already established in their knowledge and skills.

Some of that support might be in the form of mentoring and coaching, creating a nurturing environment that’s cognisant of the challenges a young person faces. That support might relate to a lack of confidence about their professional capabilities, a lack of home support, or the need for additional  formal and informal training opportunities.



Can these barriers be minimised or overcome?  

The short answer to this question is ‘yes’. What young people lack in experience they invariably make up for in energy and an understanding of the modern consumer landscape and where it’s going. 

Furthermore, in a world of greater connectivity and plug-in solutions, businesses of all sizes can find the support that they need to create a nurturing environment for young people as well. That might be in the form of training support, coaching or accessing higher level strategic input to help drive commercial goals cost-effectively, whilst redistributing resources to new recruitment initiatives.

Some of the ways you can address these barriers include:

Talk to recruiters about how they can help 

When it comes to how you start recruiting younger people, your existing recruiters may already have insights into how you can do this and it’s worth asking them for their support in meeting your objectives. In addition, with Sort employers can connect with a community of more than 660k young people, and one in three Sort candidates come from a minority background, and are looking to work for organisations that value diversity. We also offer support in terms of how you promote jobs to a younger market. 


Look for external providers plug-in solutions to create the right infrastructure

While some companies are large enough to have their own training functions, most businesses aren’t, and neither do they need to. Sort’s skills building capabilities can support employers in providing a supportive framework for young employees, as well as offering learning opportunities without the cost of obtaining a degree.


Make sure your team is on board

The mindset shift really is the biggest barrier for most organisations, and the challenge is to make sure that mindset shift runs through the organisation in order to create a working environment that’s right for nurturing young talent.

At the start, that also means considering things like the measure of success that the person in charge of recruitment is being asked to adhere to. Is the pressure on them to fill the role as quickly as possible? Or are there other metrics that will make for a more productive recruitment process?


In our next article we will be delving further into the metrics of success when it comes to recruitment, and how a change in company mindset can be developed to nurture talent and generate positive outcomes for you and your new team members. 

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