Tips for hiring student employees

Students are a key employee demographic for many companies and it’s easy to see why many businesses like hiring students; they’re generally affordable, quick to learn, and energetic, as well as being part of a young, tech-savvy generation that can bring a new perspective into a business. What’s more, students are often back home and looking for work during some of the peak seasonal times businesses need to prepare for, like the summer holidays and Christmas.

Hiring students is an important opportunity not only to meet current or temporary business needs, but to invest in your business’s future as well. Short-term work is a chance for you and your new hire to see if they’re a good fit for your business and vice versa, and these sorts of positions often lead to permanent job offers, with up to 40% of new hires coming through an internship program for certain employers.

Meanwhile, students will want to use these opportunities to get valuable experience, strengthen their CVs, learn life skills, and earn some extra money. Undertaking moderate amounts of part-time work while studying has even been shown to improve students’ grades.

So, how can your business hire students successfully and reap these rewards? Whether you’re after schoolkids for your paper round or university students to work the shelves of your store in their spare time, we’ve gathered the top tips for hiring students so they can have the best possible impact on your small business.

Know the rules and regulations around hiring students

It’s very important to ensure you do things by the book when hiring students, so that you don’t end up on the wrong side of the law and facing sanctions for your actions. Aside from the legal considerations, it’s important to do things correctly for the students' welfare. Many countries have a set minimum working age and restrict the hours and times that employees under a certain age can work.

In the UK, for instance, 13-to-15-year-olds can only work “light duties” and only between the hours of 7am and 7pm. While certain industries require permits to employ minors, others don’t. Do your homework first to ensure you don’t get caught out.

Find out the going rate for student hires

While it’s easy, and often acceptable, to assume that minimum wage will be sufficient, that isn’t always the case. If your business is one of many local establishments, the competition may be getting themselves first pick on all the talent simply by offering a slightly higher wage. Be sure to research what wage will hit the sweet spot of affordability and attracting the best applicants.

Advertise your job in the right places

If you’re looking to attract students, be aware that they may not be looking for opportunities in the same places you post for more experienced roles. Without illustrious CVs to sell themselves, they might not think to look on more professional job boards, and if they’re not sure what work they want to do, they may not be looking for your business in particular.

Instead, making use of physical advertising on campus could be the way forward. Pinning posters to student notice-boards is an easy way to get your role seen by plenty of prospective employees, as are student newspapers or school bulletins.

Get networking

Who you know also has a part to play here. Particularly with younger students, the drive to find a holiday job may be coming from their parents, so you can use the grapevine to your advantage.

Existing employees can be a rich source of referrals, be it their children, friends, or anyone else they know. And referrals are often a very effective way to find high-quality candidates. While referrals from existing employees account for only 6.9% of applicants, nearly 40% of all hires come from these referrals.

Referred employees will feel the investment made by their contacts as a motivation to perform, which can boost engagement and further benefit your small business.

Work to accommodate student schedules

Whether you’re hiring students during the holidays or employing them part-time alongside their studies, a flexible approach is needed to ensure that their working hours benefit both parties. Be sure to make it clear upfront what sort of time commitment you’re looking for and get a sense of how many hours they may be able to commit.

Accept that they’ll need time off at certain periods, like for exams in early summer or the beginning of the year, or when they’re away on holiday, and have a scheduling system in place that can catalogue and organise these considerations. Findmyshift has a multitude of features, from a holiday tracker to flexible shift patterns and variable pay rates, that make scheduling student employees a breeze.

Best of luck with your student hunting and hiring!

About the author

Jake Waller is a wordsmith who plies his trade here at Findmyshift. He uses his background in engineering to simplify complex topics for a variety of tech firms. When not writing for Findmyshift he blogs under a pseudonym at My Name is Skylance and has a passion for creative writing and editing, about which he's always talking on Twitter.