'Behind your Brand': Creating a memorable experience of work for young people
Do you remember your first experience of work? I certainly do. Age 13. A weekly paper round distributing the free local newspaper, The Advertiser. Tenuous skills learnt - time management (all copies to be delivered by 8pm at the latest, every Thursday) and attention to detail (posted in the correct number of letterboxes, 153 to be precise). £5 per week. My first taste of financial independence, even if it was forced because my father had always told me that he would stop giving me pocket money once I became a teenager. Future evening and weekend jobs were to include being a shopkeeper, waiting for a catering company and a local pub (one shift), making candles at the factory next door to the family business and the work experience arranged by my school in Year 10 at another local newspaper which I later delivered in addition to the aforementioned - each opportunity developing a new skill set and helping me to understand what I did and didn’t want to do.
Our young people today don’t have the same experience. The number of teenagers with a Saturday job is falling, and a shift is being seen towards more gig economy type work, on-demand and personalised to their needs. Not a surprise really if you’ve read anything about Generation Z, however, the appetite for work experience from schools and colleges has not waned, and with the introduction of T-levels just two years away, employers need to start to pay closer attention to the work experience opportunities offered and the insights they provide young people to look ‘behind your brand’. Why is this so important? Because of these 3 employer brand truths:
Your brand is forgettable. According to new research from All About School Leavers, close to 60% of students say that they have not been visited by an employer (even though their teachers and careers advisors say they have…)
Consumer brands rule. Brand recall amongst young people has always been strong amongst consumer brands opposed to employer brands. Companies historically well-known by university students for graduate roles are not recognised by school leavers.
Those already behind your brand are sharing their stories. Those already working as apprentices are sharing their experience and rating you as an employer. Rankings such as RateMyApprenticeship’s ‘Top 100 Employers’ offer young people the chance to tell their story which teachers, parents and your future talent are reading and using to inform their career choices.
It’s time for employers to be more proactive in their attraction and marketing strategies - to think beyond the bums on seats for next year, but for the year after that, and after that and in 5 years time. And beyond. Taking the time to create more memorable brand experiences that better support young people in making the right choices for them, and which strengthen recall and affinity for your employer brand. Win. Win. But how? Some suggestions from me:
Invest time, budget and resource into creating more opportunities for your target audience to look behind your brand for themselves, in person. Evolve your open evening strategies to include parents. Take time to work with the schools that you visit to understand when their students can take up work experience rather than when you want them to. Take advantage of the great technology now available to bring your world of work into their classroom, homes and smartphones. Use every face-to-face interaction, whether in-person or digitally, with a young person as an opportunity to help them understand who you are and what you do. Which brings me to my second point…
Make more connections with your people happen. Young people don’t want to meet members of your recruitment team when they are first starting to navigate the world of work. A recent white paper from Meet & Engage has found that they want to meet people who are doing the jobs they are interested now, not the people who lead the organisation and are disconnected from their experience in the ‘here and now’. Turn your apprentices and graduates into master storytellers. Ambassadors for your employer brand. Trust them to do the work for you, leaving your team time to support them once they’ve started an application to make best use of their expertise too.
Provide more support for females. The 2018 Youth Voice census from Youth Employment UK has found that young women are getting less access to careers education at every stage compared to young men.
Be where they are, using the technology they are using. It’s important to go to your audience when it comes to the early careers market. If they don’t know who you are, don’t expect them to find you first. And if your website is not optimised for mobile then you have a problem. Young people expect this and will click away if they find your website hard to navigate.
The time is now. Not tomorrow, next week, after Christmas, when writing the 2019/20 strategy. Now. Take action, or risk getting left behind in the war for talent.
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