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Nurturing Tomorrow's Talent: Rethinking Early Careers Recruitment

It’s an exciting time in my household right now - one of my daughters is just coming up to her GCSE exams and the other, just one year below, is studying subjects she has a real interest in having narrowed down her preferred subjects. They are starting to show a real curiosity in the world, and the differences in their approach to life and interests are really starting to shine through.


Keen to understand what I do at work; they have trialled most of the assessments and questionnaires we offer with a genuine interest in results (no pressure to be guineapigs was applied!). The results have led to some interesting discussions across the dinner table as my eldest works out what she wants to do next year and where her interests will take her. A review of our company, GFB, including a detailed SWOT analysis for my eldest’s business course has also demonstrated that, even at age 15, there is a lot to be learnt from the younger generations in business, as well as life in general.


As well as considering the personality and motivational preferences of my teens, they have also taken ability tests such as the Watson Glaser, RAVENS and Verify to not only see how they get on but also to give me some useful feedback from a test taker’s perspective. I’ve also personally taken these tests quite a few times over the past 20 years and I’m pleased to confirm that, despite testing advancements and updates to questions and norms, my results have remained remarkably similar. This highlights the test re-test reliability which is one of the key reliability measures of such assessments. Although this is great for the test, I personally was hoping for even a slight improvement (but at least it didn’t show any cognitive decline!). My personal interest and the increasing focus on early years recruitment by my clients has led me to look at the data we have on younger test takers and their performance.


Reflecting on my own experiences and the evolving demands of recruitment, I’ve recently undertaken a review of data for a number of clients looking to increase the assessment and robustness of their selection processes with early careers applicants. With reduced work experience for younger applicants, clients are increasingly turning to ability measures to check for capability, and personality and motivation measures to check for fit. The information provided by academic scores does not always allow individuals to demonstrate their true underlying abilities. The identification of personality and motivational preferences, which are sometimes hard for those earlier in their careers to pinpoint, can really facilitate targeted discussions with those at the starting point of their careers.


Anecdotally stand out stories have emerged of high performing individuals very early in their careers; such as one such individual requesting a short briefing with a senior leader prior to a meeting to which they had been invited, to allow them to fully understand the objectives and key learning points they should expect from attending - the confidence and understanding of the young apprentice really took the leader by surprise. But how do you find such ability and drive with individuals with limited work experience? How can you ensure you really understand what is driving them and what their interests are?

Having analysed the data available for a number of clients, it suggests that maturity in testing may be a consideration when assessing those at earlier points of entry. Early years applicants may not be as familiar with online tests or testing processes and may not be aware of the importance of being in the best possible environment when taking ability tests (free from distractions etc.). In taking out those that scored well below average in some of our assessments, be that for whatever reason (failure to complete the assessment in full, distraction when taking the assessment, time of day taking the assessment, minimal time spent on instructions or reviewing of practice questions) then the range of scores appear similar to older applicants. This highlights the importance of communication to give such earlier year’s applicants the best possible chance to demonstrate their capabilities. Our recommendations include:


  • Providing a clear explanation of the assessment process and what the testing will entail

  • Providing access to tips and advice for test takers, such as those detailed on our website

  • Ensuring communication is clear outlining deadlines, testing processes and the availability of reasonable adjustments

  • Ensuring tests used are relevant, face valid and device assessable

  • Providing access to practice assessments where available or as a minimum practice questions


As with the scores of my children, this is just some of the data that is useful when considering the roles and environment in which an individual will thrive, but what is clear is that in the right environment and with the right support, recruiting individuals early in their careers can really help organisations ensure they are fit and ready for the future.


I am excited to see the impact of early careers recruits and performance data as more and more becomes available. I am equally excited to see the paths my children take in whichever routes they choose with the wide range of courses, training or careers that are available to them. I would be interested to hear your experiences of early years recruitment. If you have any other insights, get in touch.


Watch this space!

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