Connecting with Early Talent in a Changing World Through Tech

Last updated

19th January 2022

Read time

2 minutes

Connectr’s internal expert and Head of Talent Acquisition, Kate Davis, shares her intel on how employers need to respond to the changing early talent market leveraging technology.

The UK early talent job market is changing. In the face of Brexit and the pandemic, new roles are emerging and young people are re-evaluating their plans. Applications are falling and employers are finding it more difficult to engage younger candidates.

In response, employers are bombarding young people. Some universities ran over 500 careers events in this semester alone. For students, the whole thing feels like a minefield.

So how are young people feeling right now about their next steps – and how can employers do better at engaging them?

Disruption has dented confidence

Students have been cooped up for 18 months. There’s been no chance to debate their work or chat to their peers about life and what’s next. Final-year students have had their education interrupted since Year 13.

What’s more, far fewer young people than usual have had the chance to do work experience. That’s led to a lack of confidence about applying for roles.

On top of that, young people are struggling to find insights into how the workplace has changed. They wonder where they’ll fit in.

And for students from underrepresented groups, a lack of genuine diversity – especially at board level – makes it harder to see how they’ll belong. In the FTSE 100, only 5% of CEOs are female, none are black, and there’s no one at board level who has declared a disability.

University leavers need more time to adapt

As a result of all this, lots of students who graduated this year have taken jobs in hospitality or warehouses, to gain some experience and earn some money while they work out what comes next.

Master’s courses are surging in popularity too, with universities reporting rises in applications between 10% and 20%. A survey by Prospects showed that two-thirds of students who are planning postgraduate study are doing so to switch career path – while over a third of university finalists are changing their career plans because of the pandemic.

How employers should respond

First of all, employers must be patient. The recruitment cycle isn’t as predictable as it used to be, and students are not as prepared. That isn’t unreasonable on their part.

So focus on quality, not quantity. Don’t judge engagement – whether that’s application numbers or attendance at events – by volume. If only 10 people come to your event, but those people find it really useful, they’ll tell their network.

It’s important to recalibrate your application process too. Reassure students that you realise they won’t have had the level of experience they might have needed in the past. Remember that students might not understand their strengths as well as past cohorts did. And allow them to answer competency questions with the skills that they think are important.

Restoring connections: tech will be key

The early talent job market is different now, so employers must be different too. To stand out, you need to support your candidates, understand the experience they’ve lived through, and change up what you’ve offered previously.

Technology will be key in restoring the connection. It can offer an engaged, supported candidate journey, but also one that’s dynamic and always accessible.

HR tech isn’t all that human – but we are. So let’s chat about how Connectr can transform your candidate journey to engage and retain talented and diverse young people.