Building Your Dream Team - Entry-Level Hires

Groom your own talent, and give that talent an opportunity to move up in the organization.
Sep 5, 2019
Ryan Brown
Ryan Brown
Lead Recruiter
three young people sitting around a laptop

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Today we want to talk about growth. You want to grow your organization—but with intention: a strong culture,  focused business needs, smart execution and great talent top to bottom. So how do organizations build their dream teams? 

Some make a point of bringing in talent from the outside (more on that in our next blog post); others groom their own talent, hiring entry-level people and giving those hires an opportunity to move up in the organization. Both approaches have their merits and their challenges.  A combination of the two is often how great companies do it. 

If you’re trying to build your own dream team, keep in mind that when hiring someone without experience, you can’t focus on previous skills. Because those skills often don’t exist yet. You have to focus on intangibles, life experiences, soft skills. Take a step back and look at your interview process. You also want to remember that this is a learning experience for them too. 

Challenges When Hiring Entry-Level People

Let’s dive into the challenges.

Entry-Level Hires Don’t Have A Refined Skill Set 

You’re molding this baby, and you’re hoping to instill skills and knowledge that will grow just as they do in your organization. Your challenge is learning what each of these candidates need to grow. It’s not one size fits all. It’s also an investment of your time and resources.

But The Intangibles Aren’t Clear Either

Look, you’re taking a gamble when you hire entry-level candidates and you have to determine how best to assess their intangibles, including qualities such as work ethic and their ability to figure things out. Assigning new hires a mentor and providing them with a structured feedback loop will assist your efforts in making this assessment. 

Are They A Good Fit For Your Culture

Or, are they able to adapt to your culture? This also is an intangible, and something you want to spend time assessing throughout the interview process. Figuring that out may take more than a formal interview, and it may require meeting with the candidates outside of the office and getting to know them.

And Then There’s the Time Commitment

These candidates cannot hit the ground running. There needs to be a support system in place and time for the new hire to be introduced to your expectations and how they will be executed. They’ll likely need dedicated guidance, so you’ll want to have someone in place who has capacity to support them.

How do we overcome these challenges?

Overcoming Challenges, or What We Look For With Entry-Level Hires 

If entry-level hires are not coming to you with a skill set or experience that allows you to plug them right in, what are you looking for?

  1. Work ethic - The little things outside of work, like a willingness to go above and beyond. Active in school, their majors and digging into internships. A go-getter.
  2. Softer skills - Are they articulate? Do they listen? Because if they don't possess skills such as these at this phase, they may never have them.
  3. Proactiveness - How involved is the candidate on LinkedIn? How much of an effort have they made in reaching out to you? This is the age of social media, and they can figure out who hiring managers are. Also, have they done the necessary research about your organization and come to the interview prepared to ask questions?
  4. Confidence - It can be tough for a young candidate to be confident, especially when they don’t have the background. But it stands out when they are. 
  5. Career plans - Have they spent time trying to figure out where they want to go professionally, how they’re going to get there and the role your organization plays in executing this plan? These hires bring more confidence, focus and drive to their work, all of which benefit your organization.
  6. Curiosity - Do they want to learn more? Are they willing to put the time in to learn your business and the skills they need to be productive?

There are a lot of applicants when hiring entry-level people, and beyond these criteria you have to sift through those who look good on paper, as well as those who might not be good resume writers.

How do you reduce some of this clutter?

Location is one way to do this. You’re not likely to ask someone to relocate for an entry-level job.
You can utilize the services of a company like RIVS (a Hirewell client and partner), which provides one-way video services in lieu of holding actual interviews. In this scenario, the candidate can answer your recorded questions, and you can review them whenever you want.

You can also start your entry-level hires as freelancers, or better yet, interns.

Onboarding Entry-Level Hires

Once you’ve sifted through the clutter and made the hires, on-boarding is crucial. If it’s not in place and structured, people not only get overwhelmed, but it reflects poorly on your organization. Further, without a structured process, you can’t say whether someone is good or if you botched the onboarding itself. 

What does this look like? 

It starts with clear expectations about the role itself and the new hire’s role in the wider organization. 

You want to provide training, but also facilitate a cohesive, open environment where the new hires can ask questions and learn the ropes.

This involves executing a knowledge-transfer, but it’s also about exposure to the office environment, fostering collaboration and interacting with stakeholders.

Mentorship programs play a huge role in this process, but tend to be undervalued.

The faster you can ramp this up, the better, because it’s a time commitment and can take up to a year for these candidates to get up to speed. 

Not surprisingly, the biggest companies have the most extensive and innovative onboarding programs. We know that you can’t necessarily match what they’re doing, but you can learn from them. Some of these companies include:

  1. Google - Onboarding is delegated to those at the team-level, and subsequently looks different from one team to the next. Yet, given Google’s focus on data, everything is measured, and everyone learns from the different approaches.
  2. LinkedIn - All new hires receive a "New Hire Onboarding Roadmap,” in which their first 90 days are laid-out for them: what’s expected and how to execute it.
  3. Twitter - Nothing is left to chance at Twitter, where they’ve crafted 75 touch points for new hires, including interactions with the hiring manager and fully provisioned workspaces and laptops, so they have an exceptional experience from the start.

Which is ultimately what it’s about, an exceptional experience for the new hire and for your organization.

Ultimately a focus on new hires requires structure and patience.

You have to have both, because making these hires is an investment. Without that investment, it’s not going to work, and you’re going to waste time you don’t have.

Hirewell is Your Partner in Understanding How to Make the Best Entry-Level Hires

Making entry-level hires can be a gamble—but worth it if you value homegrown talent. 

Ryan Brown
Ryan Brown
Lead Recruiter

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