How to Hire More Youth

Mark L. Johnson / January 2016

As I wrote last month, data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that the construction industry, in general, is not hiring enough young workers. This month I take up the question, What can you do about it?
    
One answer is to have a great website for your job postings. That’s because young people tend to focus their job searches online. Recent research published by the Pew Research Center supports this fact.
    
“Digital resources are now more important than ever to Americans’ ability to research and apply for jobs,” says the report, “Searching for Work in the Digital Era.” “The proportion of Americans who research jobs online has doubled in the last 10 years.”
    
Here’s what I learned from the Pew Research Center:
    
Millennials are now the largest group working today. According to the Pew Research Center report, “Eight Facts about American Workers,” millennials are now the largest generation in the labor force. These are American workers who were 18 to 34 in 2015. Millennials represented one in three workers in 2015, and during the year they surpassed Generation X, the group 35 to 50 in age, to become the largest share of the American workforce.
    
Young people, job searching and the Internet go together. How do young millennials search for employment opportunities? According to the Pew Research Center report, “Searching for Work in the Digital Era,” more than eight of 10 of adults age 18 to 29 (or 83 percent) looked for job information online, and 79 percent applied for a job online. Are your job postings available online for candidates to see?
    
Online job information needs to render well on mobile devices. According to the Pew Research Center report, among Americans who have used a smartphone to conduct a job search, 93 percent were college grads researching jobs online and 94 percent were high school grads or less researching jobs online.
    
Pew researchers asked about problems that smartphone job-seekers might encounter while using their mobile devices. They found that poor formatting and glitches related to accessing job-related content were among the most prominent.
    
“Some 47 percent of smartphone job-seekers have had problems accessing job-related content because it wasn’t displaying properly on their phone, and an identical 47 percent have had problems reading the text in a job posting because it was not designed for a mobile device,” the report said.
    
Other mobile problems include issues with text entry and with the ability to submit the required documents necessary to apply for a job. About one quarter of mobile job seekers had problems bookmarking jobs on their phone so they could come back later to apply for those jobs.
    
Contact information needs to be easily accessible online. According to Pew’s“Searching for Work in the Digital Era,” 78 percent of high school graduates or less called a potential employer with their smartphone. And, 90 percent of college grads telephone job providers directly.
    
Interestingly, 61 of high school or less job seekers filled out an online job application using a smartphone, according to the study. And, 80 percent of college grads emailed someone about a job they were applying for using their smartphone.
    
Social media networks play employment-related roles. According to the Pew report, 65 percent of Americans use social media. Of these Americans, 43 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds use social media to look for and research jobs, 40 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds use social media to let their friends know about job openings, and 29 percent of this age group applied for a job that they learned about on social media.
    
“Along with serving as a venue for finding and researching jobs, prospective job seekers can also use their social media presence to highlight relevant skills to prospective employers,” the report said.

Mark L. Johnson, an industry marketing consultant, loves data analysis and trying to solve tough problems. He tweets at @markjohnsoncomm and connects at linkedin.com/in/markjohnsoncommunications.