4 things employers should know to attract socially mobile candidates

Aug 7, 2023 | Diversity, Home Featured, Opinion

There are several things employers should be aware of to help attract socially mobile talent, explains Amberjack.

In our recent 2023 Insights webinar, we shared the results of our annual research, revealing that candidates who met social mobility criteria are 7% less likely to get an offer.

Here at Amberjack, we’ve been participating in the discussion to help drive change for many years. This included a panel discussion at this year’s ISE Student Recruitment Conference. While progress has been made, there is still more work to be done.

You can watch an ISE webinar on Why the UK is still socially immobile and what to do about it.


1. Become familiar with potential barriers

To better attract early careers candidates with low socioeconomic backgrounds, it’s key to become familiar with what this actually means, and the ways background can have ripple effects as students move into work.

From less experience and reduced access to job opportunities, to assessment barriers and geographical immobility, the hurdles created by these difficulties can present a hiring process that is more difficult for lower socioeconomic candidates to navigate.

As an employer, understanding the sort of barriers your candidate might face, as well as the impact this is likely to have, can be a game changer for your applicants.

It’s also important to remember that low socioeconomic backgrounds are diverse – not all candidates from lower classes have histories or struggles that look the same.

The reasons a candidate is classified as lower socioeconomic can range from parental, to financial, to educational – asking applicants about their background and measuring the socioeconomic status of those in your recruitment process is important.


2. Represent lower socioeconomic candidates

If you have created a strategy or initiatives to focus on engaging students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, make sure they know!
These young people often have lower confidence when it comes to the application process. They can feel as if they probably won’t succeed and lack the skills or practice to make it through your recruitment process. It’s important to show them that this isn’t the case.

These candidates are coming from a place of facing many adversities, so they won’t just assume that your process is friendly to them, in fact they are likely to assume the opposite.

So, highlight that you are a diversity-friendly employer, tell them the stories of current employees similar to them, make sure they are aware that they have a place in your organisation. Show them that it is possible to achieve.


3. Combat self-deselection

Self-deselection refers to the instances where a candidate decides they shouldn’t apply for a role, or removes themselves from the recruitment process – they ‘deselect’ themselves. This has been a recurring topic of discussion across different Amberjack events.

A lot of candidates with the right skills and personality, but lacking the experiential evidence or confidence, will remove themselves from your process before they even complete an application as they believe they will not get the role, or it is not right for them.

Combating this issue can be encouraged by addressing the issue explicitly and head on.

Tell your candidates that you want them to apply even if they don’t have huge amounts of demonstrable experience around their skills or don’t feel that they meet all the criteria.

If you have provisions for helping lower socioeconomic applicants, such as covering travel expenses, offering coaching calls, support buddies, or assisting with technical requirements, shout about it!

Put this information in your adverts and in the job description, show them that you care and are there to help before they even apply.
In your application process, ask if they require assistance, or have any requirements, but let them know exactly how you will use this information.

In a panel with students last year, Amberjack asked why many don’t disclose their needs. We found that candidates often assume that by revealing their requirements and seeking adjustments they will be negatively judged or impacted in the recruitment process. Let them know that this is not the case.


4. Hire for potential

Consider the way you assess and select your candidates. Traditional processes, such as CV sifting and written answer forms, can often negatively impact candidates with less direct experience to write about and less guidance from parents and guardians.

Hiring for potential and providing an accessible process can help these candidates make it through your process and demonstrate their skills.
Amberjack’s Model for Identifying Potential is the basis of our assessment methodology. The model’s four pillars help determine the potential of a candidate without looking at past experience and privileges, helping a wider range of diverse candidates through to the latter stages of your recruitment journey and so increasing the intake of diverse hires.

In addition, be conscious of how you deliver your process. Whilst many employers are making a move to have face-to-face assessment for candidates from lower socio-economic backgrounds, this can prove challenging due to cost, time and anxiety about entering into a corporate environment for the first time.

This is a hugely important topic, but there is no silver bullet to address the challenges. There are many resources to support and help, including our social mobility panel discussion that took place in partnership with the ISE.


You may also be interested in

Why social mobility is the ‘golden thread’ for EDI

Graduate employers need to innovate to increase socioeconomic diversity

Should degree certificates still be the ticket to opportunity?

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