How To Identify Entry-Level Candidates with Upward Mobility

It can be difficult to attract candidates to your open roles in today’s competitive job market. With this in mind, identifying candidates who can grow with your organization is more important now than ever before. Selecting the “right” candidate can impact their ability to contribute to the role immediately, but you should also consider their long-term potential to be a star or future leader of your organization. If you can identify entry-level candidates with upward mobility, you’ll be able to pack your organization with employees who can adapt and meet the needs of your business.

Identifying entry-level candidates who have the potential to grow within your organization is no easy feat. Their limited experience makes it hard to determine if they will flourish or flounder on the job. But it certainly pays off in the long run. You’ll reduce turnover, improve employee morale, and create a team of professionals who deeply understand your business from the ground up. That’s why it’s important to take time to recognize high-potential candidates in your recruiting process. Here are 5 simple steps you can take to instantly ensure you are taking the time to properly review and find candidates with the strongest potential.

1. Evaluate their Openness To Training.

High-performing employees know what they don’t know. And they’re excited to learn and broaden their industry knowledge. While a solid training program is important, offering further opportunities to develop in the role through certifications or workshops drives continuous improvement.

Interviews offer a fantastic opportunity to ask direct questions to learn more about the candidate and their motivations. Make sure to include questions around how a candidate felt they improved. It can be throughout their academic career or in a previous role. For entry-level candidates, focus on identifying passion and interest in your industry and the role. This is key to finding employees who will be with you for the long haul.

2. Hunt for Resume Clues.

Entry-level candidates tend to include a lot of fluff in their resumes. It’s not their fault – current hiring practices mandate a certain number of keywords to get past any filters you’ve set up. So it’s up to you to string together the key details that can help you identify a top-tier applicant. Candidates typically include any relevant certifications or training on their resume. It’s important to notice key clues that signify having invested in themselves and their career.

Let’s explore some examples. If you have a sales candidate, have they taken ongoing training certifications or development courses?  Did an applicant for a developer role continue to learn new coding languages and stay up to date on the latest industry standards? Have a more senior candidate? Identify how they grew throughout their career. Look for candidates who have grown at previous companies. These are people who understand how commitment and hard work pay off.

Finally, keep an eye out for job hoppers. If a candidate has been with multiple companies in the last few years, this can be a sign that they jump from job to job. They may not have the same motivation to push themselves and work through the challenges that pop up during their career.

3. Consider their Self-Awareness & Humility.

Like we said, you want employees who know what they don’t know. This comes from a level of self-awareness that is important for the development of both individuals and teams. Employees who practice self-reflection and humility will connect directly with co-workers (often across departments) as they seek additional information and resources. This, in turn, fosters a culture of togetherness and teamwork. Encourage this type of environment. It’s one where driven young people see opportunity and a sense of purpose.

During your interview, ask questions about what challenges they foresee in their new role. How do they anticipate working through that? Their answers are a strong indicator of their willingness to identify a problem and work toward a solution. Critical thinking skills are a key indicator of potential for long-term success, especially for entry-level candidates who don’t have much on-the-job experience.

4. Take Time to Review References.

We know by now that a candidate won’t provide a bad reference. So how can you get the most useful information from their cherry-picked references? While things vary depending on industry and seniority level, it’s most important to be direct when asking about their experience working with that candidate. Ask questions like, how did the candidate handle adversity in their previous role? Or, why would you consider hiring them again? Try to understand how they grew at their previous workplace. With specifics!

Don’t shy away from asking for examples of growth, performance, or teamwork. While these questions may seem simple, their answers can provide valuable context to the candidate’s work style. It also offers insight on how they may interact with other co-workers. It’s going to give you a more concrete idea of how well a candidate will perform in your workplace – rather than getting general answer about how great someone thought they were to work with.

5. Implement Assessments.

We admit that most interview processes are inherently subjective. And reducing bias in hiring is key to finding the person who is best for the role, instead of just trusting your gut. That’s why introducing objective data into your recruiting process can offer significant value, especially when evaluating entry-level talent at scale. Pre-employment assessments offer you insight into a candidate’s ability to succeed in a job (with aptitude testing) or how their work style “fits” within a particular job category (using personality testing). Adding these two data points will allow you to filter your initial candidate pool. Combine this with applying any of the previous steps listed to thoroughly review a candidate’s fit for the role.

Finding entry-level candidates who can grow with your company is a reliable  long-term growth strategy that will yield high performers at every level of your business. The green candidates of today are the leaders of your company’s future – choose them wisely.