When it comes to retaining early-career top talent, open communication is the key to success. And frankly, those lines of communication need to open before a candidate’s first day on the job.
Research shows that Gen Z employees want to be prepared for day one at your company. According to a study by the UKG Workforce Institute, nearly half (45%) of Gen Zers expect their future employer to send detailed information on their new role well before their first day. Within their first month, 26% state they want to know upfront goals and expectations, while 25% expect regular check-ins with their manager.
At Scholars, we believe that setting early career candidates up for success begins before — not during — their first day on the job. All too often, the time period between a signed offer letter and a candidate’s first day is a lost opportunity, with employers rarely communicating with new team members. However, this time can be better used to deepen connections between 1) candidates and your company, and 2) candidates and others within their same cohort. Below, we explain five ways to connect candidates with your company and their peers before their first day on the job.
5 Ways to Connect With Candidates Before Their First Day
A post-offer journey isn’t just an opportunity for candidates to learn more about your company. It’s an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals within their same cohort, find mentors, and network with others in their department. Below, we offer five innovative solutions to forging connections with early-career candidates.
1. Create a Group Chat
Gen Z job seekers want to forge meaningful relationships at work, particularly amongst their peers. In fact, research shows that 90% of Gen Z candidates state they want valuable, human connections as part of their at-work communications — which is where group chats come in.
A group chat can take place anywhere, such as a community forum or Slack channel. However, you choose to implement a group chat, remember this: You can’t expect conversations to magically take place on their own.
Instead, group chats must be managed, with moderators intentionally facilitating conversations between candidates and their peers. To spark new connections, consider using polls or water cooler starters to ask insightful questions. You can start hobby or interest groups so peers can connect over like-minded topics. Finally, host regularly-scheduled recruiter office hours so peers can join, ask questions, and ultimately feel prepared for their first day.
2. Launch a Junior Buddies Program
When it comes to attracting top early-career candidates, there is no one better suited to speak on your behalf than former interns.
Studies show that Gen Z candidates typically spend two years and three months in a role, the shortest time span of any generation. Ultimately, your goal should be to retain top talent by hiring former interns as full-time employees post-graduation. One of the best ways to fuel this intern-to-team-member pipeline is through a junior buddies program.
A junior buddies program is a peer-to-peer community where incoming interns can gain real advice (and real-life examples) from those who have been through your program before. Junior buddies can set clear expectations for incoming interns, answer commonly asked questions, or otherwise help them prepare for their new role. Plus, if a junior team member is willing to participate as a “junior buddy,” chances are they’ve fully bought-in to your company culture, and will act as an employer brand ambassador for your company.
3. Organize Monthly Events
At Scholars, we recommend companies communicate with incoming candidates every 2-3 weeks following a signed offer letter. However, if you’re simply firing off two-sentence emails that say, “Just checking in!” you could be missing an opportunity to keep candidates engaged.
Instead, host monthly events to allow candidates to meet others within their cohort. At a minimum, try to gain executive buy-in to host 1-2 events during a candidate’s post-offer journey, and assign a dedicated team member to host and coordinate all event details. Try to strike a mix between social events (think happy hours and mixers) and professional development events, offering something for each individual.
Depending upon the size of your incoming cohort, you might prepare for these events differently. For example, you might find it best to offer a mixture of small group events (allowing one-to-one conversations to take place) and larger events (so individuals can mingle with their entire cohort). If you’re a large company bringing on 50+ early-career candidates at once, you might want to set an attendee limit, coordinating different events for different departments.
4. Create Employee Video Boards
Recently, Scholars spoke to Analog Devices who took an innovative approach to engage with early-career candidates. Each year, the company pieced together an “intern yearbook” where they showcased current employees and various intern programs.
Your company can offer your own, unique spin on this fun idea by transforming the intern yearbook into a video board. Collect videos at the end of each internship program (with the interns’ consent, of course) collecting their thoughts, advice, and tips to future interns. A video format can offer heightened interaction and engagement and allows former interns to share their knowledge and experience.
5. Launch a Social Media Campaign
Gen Z is the first generation of “digital natives” and spends an average of four hours a day on apps (and no, that figure doesn’t include gaming). If you’re not connecting with early-career candidates on social media, you are doing yourself — and your organization as a whole — a disservice.
To connect with candidates across social media, have your marketing team come up with a fun hashtag for the incoming cohort. Students can search the hashtag, engage with social posts, and connect with their peers on LinkedIn.
In addition, have your design team create a graphic for students to share on their own channels. That way, they can announce their internship, and take pride in their new role. Have your recruiting team take note of those who publicly share their internship on social media, taking it as a sign that they’re less likely to renege on their job offer.
Stay Connected With Each Candidate Before Day One
To reduce your renege rate, your recruiting team needs to have a clear strategy in place to keep candidates engaged. After all offer letters have been signed, you need to keep lines of communication open, allowing candidates to connect with your company and peers within their cohort.
To increase candidate engagement, consider hosting monthly events, launching a group chat, pairing candidates with a junior buddy, or creating video boards with former interns. You can also collaborate with your marketing department to create social media graphics for incoming team members to share their new roles on their respective channels.