For organisations of any size, recruitment can be challenging, but particularly for large-scale businesses, you need a continual pipeline of fresh talent joining the ranks. But, we know that different demographics have different priorities when they look for job roles, and Gen Z are more diverse than any generation before. So, if you’re recruiting young talent, how do you first find them, and second, land your offer in a way that’s appealing in a competitive environment?

The solution could actually be very simple. Involving young people in your staff recruitment and training is not only empowering to them, but it can bring a fresh perspective to businesses, helping them to think more like their target audience, understand their unique wants and needs and know exactly how and where to engage with them.

Here’s an example…

A leading UK retailer reached out to Participation People as they were struggling with recruiting young talent into new roles. Our Young Consultants identified that the channels the supermarket was using to advertise roles had little cut-through with Gen Z audiences, and instead, made a recommendation to place job ads in barbershops in local areas. Within days, applications had increased by thousands. This example really indicates the power of young people to solve big business challenges, simply by asking their opinions on matters that affect them. 

Here are some of the top ways businesses can involve young people in recruitment, to help you appeal to the next generation of employees when recruiting young talent.

Involve young people from the start

If you want to employ Gen Z, involve them right from the start of the recruitment process. Bear in mind that young people are often more concerned with life fulfilment and how work impacts their wellbeing, so they can offer valuable insight on everything from the particular package you’re putting together, to the wording you use to describe it.

Gen Z are also more concerned than previous generations with the bigger picture, i.e. workplace culture, and inclusivity, so nailing this will help you attract the best talent. Think about how this is positioned in your job ads and ask your young employees what they like about work, you might be surprised! 

Top tip: Young people are more open to applying to jobs in different ways too, for instance, creating short intro videos. This makes your application process more accessible and gives you a real insight into the individual’s communication skills and personality. Videos are also a great opportunity for selection panels to get to meet candidates before the interview itself.

Offer pre interview skills training or mentoring

As adults, we have to remember we have years of experience – young people are at a deficit. To make the playing field more equal, we have to give them the training, space and opportunities they need to thrive. 

Providing training resources and / or access to more experienced mentors in the workplace, young people can develop skills and gain experience faster than without. They will use and value these opportunities to build their careers, which will help build employee loyalty. For example, businesses can offer free insights on interview skills, resume writing, or job search techniques easily via the company website. By providing training to young people, businesses are investing in their own future, as these young people may become employees or customers in the years to come.

Even better if you can accredit this work – we like AQA unit awards at Participation People, but there are lots of options out there if this is something you are considering.

Internships and Apprenticeships

Offering internships and apprenticeships can help businesses identify talent and build a pipeline of future employees. It can also create opportunities for young people who might not have had access to similar opportunities otherwise, and provides young people with real-world experience to develop skills and knowledge in their chosen fields. Essentially, as an employer, it allows you to tap into hidden pools of talent that could prove to be an asset to your business. 

We’re speaking from experience here. Participation People has been operating an internship programme for over a year which has driven real results – including this blog series. So this blog is a credit to this team’s hard work and their love for all things Youth Voice.

Foster a Culture of Learning

Potential Gen Z employees will want to know what personal development opportunities you can offer them, and particularly if they can have a steer in shaping this. So fostering a culture of learning can help businesses create a workplace that is welcoming to young people. 

This means providing opportunities for professional development for all staff, building this into your company culture, and encouraging everyone to learn and grow. A mentorship programme is a great and low-cost place to start, connecting young people with more experienced team members to benefit from their guidance and support.

Reach out through the right channels, in the right way

When you’re creating a job ad, make sure you ‘youth-proof’ it first. A lot of the organisations we come into contact with will list jobs with an advert that isn’t reflective or representative of the audience they’re trying to recruit, and fall at the first hurdle. The best way to tackle this is to have someone at the level you’re recruiting review it for you, or to sit down with them first and understand the priorities they have and the language they use. 

Plus, when you list your advert, make sure it’s through channels that the audience you’re looking to recruit are using. As our example with barbershops above shows, it’s very much a case of right place, right time, to reach your target demographic.


Throughout our experience, we’ve seen HR teams uncover new and useful tactics for recruiting young talent, especially first-time job entrants, by talking to young people themselves. 

Effectively this saves both time and money, getting recruitment and retention right, first time. But the biggest wins (in our opinion) are in creating a workplace that is more effective, inclusive, and welcoming. Through this businesses invest in their own future and create positive outcomes for everyone involved. 

Let’s work together to create a world where young people have a say in their own future. Want to find out how? Reach out to us today.