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Want to Retain Early Career Top Talent? Start By Investing in Your Managers

Many times, recruiters focus their attention on preparing incoming candidates for roles at your company. But how much time is dedicated toward preparing existing team members for an influx of new recruits?

If you want to strengthen your early-career recruiting strategy, you need to ensure hiring managers feel empowered to do their job. By preparing your managerial team to streamline processes, provide educational resources, and ultimately advocate for incoming candidates, you are more likely to get an early-career cohort to buy into your brand and vision.

Unfortunately, many companies aren’t invested in managerial training for early-career recruits — which could cause a significant blow to your employee retention rate. In fact, a recent survey shows that nearly one-third of managers worry that Gen Z candidates will be more difficult to train than other generations, and roughly a quarter fear it may be difficult to communicate with incoming candidates. 

How do you, as an employer, alleviate this managerial anxiety? Ensure hiring managers have the tools, training, and processes necessary to better serve your incoming cohort. Below, we explore three common problems facing hiring managers today, and four ways to integrate hiring managers into your candidate lifecycle. 

3 Common Issues Facing Hiring Managers of Early-Career Candidates 

Training hiring managers helps strengthen your overall candidate experience. By ensuring your managerial team stays involved throughout the entirety of your candidate journey, you can help forge connections between the incoming cohort and the colleagues they’ll work with on a regular basis.

As a best practice, you should ask hiring managers directly about which challenges they face when engaging with early-career candidates. At Abode, our ongoing conversations with hiring managers have identified three key opportunities where candidate-manager relationships can be improved:

  1. A lack of formal training: Many times, companies don’t have a set process to train managers on how to collaborate with recent grads. Without formal trainings in place, these hiring managers struggle to facilitate conversations with incoming interns before their first day on the job.
  2. Information roadblocks: Many times, there is a disconnect between hiring managers, HR, and operations, which causes gaps in communication during the onboarding process. Disorganization and a lack of systems and processes can prevent candidates from getting the educational resources they need ahead of their first day.
  3. Not knowing the big picture: Many times, hiring managers don’t understand how their specific role plays into a larger candidate retention strategy. It gets lost in translation that they could make-or-break an intern’s decision to come aboard full-time post-graduation. 

4 Ways to Leverage Hiring Managers to Improve Your Overall Candidate Experience 

Early-career candidates want to develop a tight-knit relationship with their managers. In fact, nearly one-third of Gen Z candidates say they are motivated to stay longer (and work harder!) at a company if they have a supportive manager. Meanwhile, 37% state they won’t tolerate an unsupportive manager, and nearly one-fourth of candidates refuse to work for a company that lacks supportive leadership.

Translation: If you want to attract and retain top early-career top talent, you need to invest in your managerial team. Strong hiring managers, in turn, can pay dividends later on, as you attract the most talented new recruits immediately following graduation.

If you want to address the most common struggles facing hiring managers today, be sure to implement the following tactics within your overall candidate experience: 

1. Implement Closed Loop Information Sharing

From the time a candidate applies to your company through the onboarding process, hiring managers should know exactly what types of content and information is shared. This ensures the candidate-manager relationship is as impactful as possible, as the candidate “hits the ground running” on their first day. 

Open lines of communication across departments help strengthen your candidate experience in a number of ways, including:

  • It helps save time: Closed loop information sharing prevents candidates from receiving the same information twice, preventing duplicate work for employees. This creates a more efficient process that can be scaled over time.
  • It serves as managerial training: If each hiring manager knows exactly which types of content are shared with the incoming cohort, they are better prepared to serve as a valuable resource. Your team of managers is equipped to answer questions, offer reading material, and request backup from other team members to create a smooth candidate experience.

2. Arrange Pre-Start Meetings 

Want to ensure a candidate-manager experience gets off on the right foot? Be sure the incoming talent actually meets their respective managers. 

Arrange specific times where managers can meet their incoming interns. A pre-start meeting can take place in-person or virtually, or if you have a large cohort (100+ interns) you might encourage managers to record a video to be distributed to new team members.

These meetings help foster a sense of belonging and welcome the new cohort to your company. In addition, these meetings can: 

  • Serve as a career springboard: Pre-start meetings can set the tone for how available managers are to their incoming team of interns. This face-to-face time creates an open dialogue where candidates can ask for advice, share their unique skill set, or get a clear depiction of their role and company expectations.
  • Offer a valuable candidate data point: Pre-start meetings can offer a valuable metric to help refine your candidate retention formula. If a candidate attends a meeting, asks questions, and follows-up with their manager afterward, it’s probably a good sign they’re more excited about the opportunity than a candidate who didn’t bother to attend. 

3. Advocate for LinkedIn Connections

This tactic is simple but impactful: Advocate for managers to connect with each incoming intern. Provide all hiring managers with sample messaging that can be easily tailored to the applicant’s unique role.

Not only does a LinkedIn connection help recognize and show appreciation for your new recruits. To help integrate this within your keep-warm strategy, consider the following:

  • Rally your entire team: Here’s a bonus tip — encourage your entire team to welcome the new cohort, giving a boost to company morale.
  • Team events: Book a team event where each department can meet new team members, allowing incoming interns to get face-to-face time with their new LinkedIn connections.

4. Strategize With Hiring Managers Before Your Next Recruiting Cycle 

As stated earlier, your existing hiring managers should play a significant role in improving your overall candidate experience. Therefore, be sure to brainstorm with all managers before your next recruiting cycle starts. 

Point-blank ask managers for their recommendations on how to improve candidate-manager relationships. Ask them how involved they want to be, which processes could be more efficient or productive, and what tools they need to do their job.

As part of your strategy session, try the following:

  • Assign a manager champion: Consider implementing a “Manager’s Manager” role, where one champion speaks on behalf of other hiring managers. This individual will act as a liaison between managers and company leadership, helping to improve the candidate experience.
  • Define the role: Job descriptions aren’t just for incoming applicants. Be sure to formally and clearly define the role and expectations of hiring managers on your team.

To Improve the Candidate Experience, Invest in Your Managers 

Early career candidates care about having a strong relationship with their managers. Unfortunately, the candidate-manager relationship is an area that’s often overlooked within the overall candidate experience.

To ensure hiring managers have the tools and resources they need to do their job, book an annual strategy meeting where managers offer feedback on your current candidate program. In addition, invite managers to meet with their cohort before their first day, connect with them on LinkedIn, and invest time in studying which educational materials have been given to candidates.

For more tips on how to improve your early-career candidate experience, be sure to join the Abode Slack channel and/or follow us on LinkedIn.

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