Attracting and keeping the best young talent is key to any company's growth. While new college grads are often thought of first when hiring younger employees, recent high school graduates bring fresh ideas, energy, and an eagerness to learn, making them great additions to your team. But just like with college grads, hiring them requires tailoring your recruiting strategies to catch their interest and match their unique needs. 

Don’t know where to start? We’re here to walk you through some tips for making your company and job opportunities more appealing to young workers—from offering fun career development programs to creating a welcoming and inclusive workplace.

Understanding the mindset of today's high school graduates 

To hire and retain recent high school graduates on your team, it's important to understand what makes them tick. Those graduating from high school in the next few years will all be members of Gen Z. This generation values authenticity, social responsibility, and personal fulfillment. They're looking for meaningful work that aligns with their passions and beliefs, wanting to make a positive impact through their careers. In particular, they’re looking to be a part of companies that share their values and support causes they care about—especially diversity, equity, and inclusion, with 83% of young workers citing DEI as a key consideration.

Work-life balance and flexibility are also big priorities for them. They value their personal time and well-being. They expect employers to offer flexible work arrangements that fit their lifestyles. Notably, today’s high school graduates also spent a large amount of time attending school remotely through the pandemic, which has shaped their opinions about work-life balance. 

Finally, high school graduates and other members of Gen Z are digital natives, born after the rise of the internet and coming of age in a time when smartphone use became widespread. This has made technology and social media huge factors in how they communicate and search for jobs. They're used to instant communication and digital connections, often using online platforms and social networks to find job opportunities and learn about potential employers. 

Knowing this, it’s time to dig in and talk through four key tactics for standing out from the crowd when hiring young employees. 

Young workers collaborating

Tip #1: Build a strong employer brand 

First up is your employer brand. We know that young talent is drawn to organizations that stand for something meaningful and actively contribute to social and environmental causes. Start by showcasing your company's mission, values, and dedication to making a positive impact; if your company has any involvement in initiatives like sustainability projects, community service, or charitable partnerships, make sure to highlight those!  

Next, meet high school graduates where they are by relying on social media and digital platforms to promote your employer brand in an authentic and engaging way. 

Stories of young professionals’ growth and successes at your company often really resonate with high school talent, most of whom have not held a full-time job before and are looking to see real-world examples of what their future could look like. 

And finally, career fairs and community initiatives can boost your visibility among high school students. These events provide a great opportunity to connect personally and show why your company is a fantastic place to kickstart and grow their careers. Some staffing agencies may also have programs in place to help develop high school talent, which can also serve as a pipeline for employers while boosting high schoolers’ confidence in themselves as professionals—and in the agency’s ability to help them. For instance, Spherion’s ME Inc. program focuses on teaching high school students many of the soft skills that employers are looking for so they’re well-positioned for success upon graduation. 

Tip #2: Improve your recruitment process

While more experienced workers know what to expect when it comes to standard recruiting processes, younger talent can get lost in the shuffle. This is, after all, their first job! So to capture the interest of high school talent, start by simplifying the application and interview steps to be more user-friendly and engaging. Are the application forms easy to fill out? Are the instructions clear? Does the process feel straightforward and accessible—remembering that your target may not have gone through this process before? 

Throughout the interview process, realize that clear and timely communication is key, so make sure to keep applicants up-to-date on their progress. And after making an effort to showcase your commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in your employer brand, this is now a great time to really hammer those points home by ensuring that all candidates feel welcome and valued. 

High school students may still actively be in school or in the process of graduating and potentially moving out of their parents’ house. This is a period of immense transition, so young workers may appreciate greater flexibility in the interview process, like virtual interviews and online assessments. This allows them to put their best foot forward while exploring opportunities that are farther from home. 

And if you’re not ready to hire quite yet, or if your potential employees aren’t ready for a full-time position, internships and apprenticeship programs are a great way to introduce high school students to your organization and industry. These programs give them hands-on experience and a clear path to future job opportunities.

Graduation Caps being thrown in the air

Tip #3: Craft an appealing employment offer

Ready to make an offer? Creating an appealing job offer for high school students means focusing on what matters most to them. Start with a competitive compensation and benefits package that suits their needs. While many might still be on their parents' healthcare plans, offering affordable healthcare options shows you care about their well-being both now and in the future. And while high school graduates pursuing a full-time position have likely not immediately applied for college, including benefits like student loan assistance can be especially attractive for those planning further education and demonstrate that you're invested in their growth.

Young employees are eager to learn, so make sure that your employment offer includes opportunities for skill development, career advancement, and leadership. Highlighting work-life balance, flexible schedules, and remote work options can also make your company more appealing to a generation that values their personal time and flexibility. 

Tip #4: Develop a supportive onboarding and development program

Let’s say you’ve made an offer and they’ve accepted. That’s great! Now how do you keep them around for the long haul? You’ll want to start by implementing a structured onboarding process to make their transition smooth and help them feel like part of the team right away. For young workers in particular, pairing them with mentors who can offer guidance and support adds an extra layer of reassurance, giving them someone they can turn to with questions or concerns.

Ongoing training and development tailored to their interests shows that you're invested in their growth and success. Whether it's learning new skills, developing leadership abilities, or exploring personal interests, providing these opportunities makes their experience with your company more fulfilling. 

You’ll also want to make sure that taking steps like these is actually working. Don’t neglect the value of feedback: Regularly asking your young workers for feedback and addressing any concerns they have ensures that they feel valued and heard—and that your programs are successful!

Female woodworker at worktable

The benefits of hiring young employees are numerous

Young workers like high school graduates bring fresh ideas, a passion for learning, and a strong work ethic to today’s employers. But to attract and retain high school graduate talent, remember that it’s all about understanding their world—their mindset, values, and what they expect from a job. By tuning into what matters most to them and tailoring your recruitment, onboarding, and development efforts accordingly, you create a space where young talent can truly shine. 

If you’re looking to hire high school graduates in an effort to add more young talent to your team, contact your local Spherion location! We have connections to young job candidates in your community and can help you hire the right fit for your open roles. Find your local office here.