Proper employee development through training enhances loyalty among the team, boosts engagement, and leads to creating an attractive environment for new employees.
We already know that.
But more often than not, little or nothing is done for the development of entry-level employees. Usually, hiring efforts are focused on hard-to-fill roles or positions that demand extensive experience. And employee development programs are mostly addressed to current employees who need upskilling or reskilling to take on new responsibilities. Or, employees who get promoted to senior positions and need to boost their managerial skills.
It’s reasonable to focus on your current workforce. But that means that the group of entry-level employees is being overlooked. You might think it’s not urgent to invest in developing and training entry-level employees, but facts demonstrate the exact opposite.
Your entry-level employees are your future leaders if trained properly. And they might actually boost productivity and reach top performance sooner than more seasoned employees if you provide them with the right tools and skills from day one.
Busting the myths for entry-level employees
In this section, we’ll go over three of the most common myths around hiring entry-level employees and training junior staff.
1. There’s no need to spend time in the hiring process as entry-level employees lack experience
It’s pretty common that employers might want to rush the hiring process when looking for junior staff as they assume there’s no point in spending too much time evaluating candidates with no previous experience.
However, the hiring process, if implemented correctly, can illustrate and reveal true potential, and show skills and abilities gained from non-work-related activities.
Some of these skills are transferable from other activities or disciplines. For instance, your new hire for customer support might not have work experience from a similar role, but has been working part-time as a waiter during college and has acquired impeccable people skills. You wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to reap the benefits your entry-level employee has to offer.
Take a moment to consider that skilled junior staff can help support operations, polish company procedures, and provide fresh ideas which can add to your long-term success.
2. Entry-level employees have simple tasks so you shouldn’t invest in training that early
“Why invest in hiring for entry-level roles, training and developing junior employees when all they take on is small and simple tasks?”
This is a misconception that can jeopardize your entire employee development strategy. By training entry-level employees, you help them get productive sooner and, as a result, take on larger responsibilities in the near future. Nurture them correctly in order to provide them with the right skillset they need to take your business to the next level, right from the very beginning.
3. Entry-level employees haven’t decided on a career yet
Younger employees, for example recent graduates, might haven’t decided on a career path just yet, so why invest in their development? Truth is, career paths are not linear anyway. Any employee, no matter how experienced or senior might be, can decide to change their career goals at any time. Just like younger employees who might not have made up their minds yet.
The wise thing to do is to start building an employee development plan together with your entry-level employees and adjust along the way, taking into consideration their needs and future goals.
Tips to have in mind when hiring junior staff
Now that we’ve highlighted the importance of investing in hiring for entry-level roles, training and developing your junior employees, let’s focus on how you should approach the hiring process.
Focus on potential, not experience
The starting point of your hiring entry-level employees journey should be the creation of targeted and engaging job ads. Make sure they provide detailed job descriptions with clear duties and responsibilities.
A long list of requirements, for example, might turn off less experienced candidates. Instead, in order to appeal to junior employees, focus on the job responsibilities and how this role will evolve. Also, highlight necessary skills instead of years of experience or knowledge of specific tools and techniques.
Further on, you can schedule career events by networking with college alumni groups or host an open house event to get in touch with professionals who decided to change careers.
Moreover, make sure you leverage social media and online communities. With remote work on the rise, a big number of junior staff is showcasing their (professional or personal) work online, and you can get a good understanding of whether they would fit into your culture.
Adjust the interviewing process for junior staff
When dealing with entry-level employees during the interviewing process, you need to remember you should separate work experience from abilities and skills. Plan ahead some situational interview questions or hypothetical scenarios that will demonstrate how new employees could use their skills in the new role.
For instance, instead of asking “How did you manage X project?”, try asking them something along these lines “What would you do if a client had a question about X?”. Also, pay attention to extracurricular activities and interests, like volunteering, conferences, community service, or personal projects.
In order to be able to properly evaluate junior staff, you could always put into play skill-based assignments that simulate job duties. Such tests can show how your prospective employees apply their skills and qualifications at work even if they lack experience. Hence, you will be able to tell whether your entry-level employees are a good fit for the job.
Never skip onboarding
Even if this step comes after hiring, it’s important to think about onboarding (and plan for it) in advance. Onboarding during the first days can really make a difference to your employees’ performance but also to turnover rates.
You may already have an onboarding program in place for all your new hires, but your junior staff might need a slightly different approach. For example, they may now be familiar with common workplace tools, like Google Docs or Slack. Or, they may need extra help signing HR paperwork for the first time.
Help them with setting up their workstation, remotely or at the office, and get paperwork out of the way. Give new hires detailed instructions on how to get everything ready in easy steps. Then, your IT and HR department should check if everything has been properly executed.
Acknowledge and reward at any given chance, even if the task they have completed is small. Giving your new hires positive and constructive feedback regarding their performance can boost productivity levels and engagement.
How to approach entry-level employee training
Letting junior staff sink or swim with zero development can cost your business money, time, and resources. Let’s see what your training entry-level employee strategy should include and why to make it a worthwhile move.
1. Training entry-level employees in technical skills
Technical skills development is key for every employee’s success. Training entry-level employees on the tools, techniques, and knowledge they need for their new role can improve confidence, morale, and productivity.
Don’t just let your junior employees figure out on their own how to deal with tasks, assignments, or technology that is used on the job just because they lack work experience and you want them to start small. Slowly yet steadily, let them familiarize themselves with what the job entails through training.
2. Soft skills training
People are not machines. Thus, it’s not just the technical skills that matter for performing well. Communication, collaboration, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, and other soft skills can take your employees to the next level.
As junior employees are new to the world of business, they can start building their soft skills immediately and contribute to the overall culture of your company.
3. On-the-job training
Entry-level employees could really benefit from shadowing their peers. It’s a great opportunity for them to witness first-hand how to approach their new role responsibilities and also how to use their soft skills in practice.
Peer-to-peer or on-the-job training can be achieved by assigning a mentor to your junior employees which will guide them through every step. Not only do you enrich the knowledge of your new employees but also you allow them to create stronger bonds with their colleagues, which can lead to higher levels of loyalty.
4. Training on diversity and inclusion
A safe and inclusive work environment is a top priority for all successful organizations. Training on diversity and inclusion should be mandatory for all employees—whether it’s junior staff or not.
This is a great way to illustrate the core values your company stands for in order to keep a healthy work environment from day one. Your new hires will be aware of what you expect from them and will be more willing to carry them out.
Never stop offering continuous learning
A pro tip you should always consider when hiring entry-level employees as well as training them is offering the opportunity of being in the learning zone whenever possible.
Continuous training and education at an entry-level stage is a way of showing your people you truly invest in their future. Your junior staff can boost their skills, take their career to the next level, and help keep a competitive edge in your organization. Investing in your employee training means corporate success. Always.
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