Rowena Bach is an Entry Level Talent Strategist who is dedicated to the professional development of young people. 

Rowena’s previous roles include Head of Future Talent at Sky and L&D Manager for Disney Consumer Products. Last July, Looop’s Chief Learning Officer, David James and Rowena joined forces on the L&D podcast to discuss how companies can attract and retain entry-level (Gen Z) talent

Entry-level talent (such as graduates and apprentices) bring fresh insight, ambition, energy, technical knowledge, to name a few things, to any workplace. With such obvious benefits, it’s clear why companies are keen to build attractive talent pipelines. After all, a mediocre recruitment strategy will eventually corrode all areas of an organisation. 

In this post, we’ve distilled Rowena’s insight on the candidate experience and early career strategies. Read on for the highlights, or listen to Rowena and David’s conversation in episode 9 of the L&D podcast.


The Future of Work: Gen Z 

In 2019, entry-level talent is now anyone from Generation Z. More specifically, anyone born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s. 

Gen Z are embarking upon their first careers, so if you want to attract the best to your company, it’s important to understand what they are driven by so you can be sure that you a) have it and b) showcase it. 

Gen Z candidates appeal to organisations for a number of reasons: 

  • They grew up with tech and are natural early adopters
  • Their recent studies make them even more familiar with technological advancements and best practices
  • They have limited working experience so are usually open-minded about how things should be done
  • Younger people are flexible and well equipped to respond to unexpected business changes (Science Daily)
  • They expand the diversity of a company through their unique, newer, perspectives
  • They’re motivated to learn and improve

Rowena recounts a first-hand example of recruiting young talent to fill a widening skills gap: “We had an aging workforce with the camera skills and filming skills, and as the business was digitalising, we needed a strategy to bring in talent to make sure that we could keep operating.” This was a ten-year plan that was designed to “change the employee makeup of the department.”

Though certain traits — such as camera proficiency — might be more prevalent within certain age groups, Rowena says it is important to remember that Gen Z characteristics aren’t “only beholden to people born within a certain birth year.” Rather, typical characteristics “arise out of the global economic, social, [and] political trends that affect everyone’s daily lives.” All of these factors contribute towards the curation of an individual’s identity and value set, both of which have a direct impact on the decisions they make — including whether to apply for a job or not. 

The benefits of hiring Gen Zs are endless. Because, though generational theories exist, they are just that… theories. It’s important to remember not to oversimplify or you may unintentionally place candidates, of any age, in a box. 


Improve the Candidate Experience to Attract the Best Talent 

your organisation will be greater than the sum of its parts if you focus on retaining talent


Each business is greater than the sum of its parts. Consequently, greatness depends upon who your employees are, what they know and how they perform. 

If you want the best people in your organisation, you’ll have to look for potential first. The bad news is that companies who are seeking to attract entry-level talent are still marred by typical recruitment challenges. The four main ones Rowena encounters are: 

  • Too many applications
  • Too few application
  • Lack of diversity in candidates
  • Candidates who drop out during, or shortly after, the recruitment process

For the most part, companies are either preoccupied with unwittingly attracting the wrong candidates, or scaring off the right ones.

Getting candidates to apply to your company is just the first step in the recruitment process. There’s no guarantee that they’ll hang around long enough to accept an interview, or the job itself. If they do, it’s another challenge in itself to keep them on for a substantial time after they sign on the dotted line.

According to research by Jobvite, 31 percent of younger candidates preemptively rejected a potential employer due to reviews on Glassdoor or other public company reviews. And almost one in three candidates leave a new position within 30 days of starting. Some of the cited reasons include:

  • Discovering that the job didn’t meet expectations (43 percent)
  • Having a “bad experience” (34 percent)
  • Disliking the company culture (32 percent) 
  • Receiving a better offer from another company (11 percent)

Work Institute estimates that employee turnover costs around 33 percent of the employee’s salary. Clearly, the longer an employee stays with a company, the more expensive it will be to replace him or her when they leave. That being said, it is even more costly to have a recruitment process that hoodwinks candidates into joining a company under false pretenses. If a candidate becomes an unhappy employee their performance will suffer until they eventually leave — likely decreasing staff morale in the process. The only recruitment strategy worth having is one that values candidates from the get-go. 

Listen to Rowena Bach in episode 9 of the L&D podcast


3 Tips for Recruiting & Retaining Gen Z Talent

Gen Z workers have different values, passions, expectations and views of the world than millennials, Gen Xs and baby boomers. Is your company increasing its chance of attracting the best and brightest by prioritising the following?

Gen Zs follow what matters to them


1. Authenticity 

Gen Z are tired of hypocrites — especially hypocritical companies. Rowena says Gen Z “will judge you right back”, before diving for the door. 

Does your company expect employees to arrive early but complain if they leave early, despite having worked their hours? Does your company preach about the importance of office recycling but covertly ship off its production waste to China? 

Scope out the disparity between what your company says and what it actually does by asking for anonymous employee feedback from your current workforce. Pay attention to closing that gap. 

If you don’t start listening to existing employees it’s not hard for potential employees to uncover the flaws and hypocrisies of a company by heading over to a site like Glassdoor. For Gen Zs, a company must live up to its values and own its shortcomings.


2. Providing the Best Candidate Experience Possible 

According to CareerBuilder, 86 percent of job seekers believe employers should treat candidates with the same respect as current employees. Some examples of what this looks like during the recruitment process are: 

  • Having a detailed, accurate job description so that candidates can immediately deduce what the role entails
  • Communicating what the hiring process looks like upfront (e.g., a phone interview and then an in-person interview)
  • Responding to candidates in a timely manner throughout the process
  • Providing enough time in the interview for a candidate’s questions
  • Giving feedback to the candidate in the event that they’re unsuccessful
  • Understanding what each candidate is looking for before they work for you

All of this may seem obvious simple but companies are still failing at it. 81 percent of job seekers say that “continuously communicating status updates to them would greatly improve the overall experience.” That’s not much to ask when you expect them to do the same. 

A Gen Z will struggle to respect a company that disregards its employees’ needs, and rightly so. They are courageous enough to walk away from an offer, or an existing job, if it doesn’t meet their expectations. It’s therefore vital that you provide a positive candidate experience before, and beyond, day one. 

Rather than throwing information at new starters during a one-week induction, look for ways to deliver training at the candidates’ point of need. And never, ever forget to ask for feedback about how the experience could’ve been better. 


3. Investing in L&D 

Studies have shown that employees prioritise compensation in their job search but growth opportunities come in second.13 percent of younger workers reported a lack of growth opportunities is enough to drive them away.

Gen Zs are ambitious. Use that. It will be to everyone’s advantage. 

Investing in an L&D strategy that helps employees to learn in the flow of work will help employees to flourish within your company.


“Talk Learning to Me” 

Is your onboarding process failing to drive performance? Find out how Sky’s employees went from strength-to-strength by building an employee-first L&D strategy with Looop. Then try Looop for free to experience the difference for yourself.

Find Rowena Bach on LinkedIn and Twitter

Ask David James a question LinkedIn or Twitter