How to Recruit Fringe Workers

The labor-market gap has employers looking outside target age demographics to teens and seniors.

May 09, 2022

Convenience Store Employee

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The U.S. economy added 428,000 jobs in April, which was slightly more than expected, reports CNBC. The unemployment rate was 3.6%, slightly higher than the estimate for 3.5%. Additionally, the labor force participation rate fell 0.2 percentage point for the month to 62.2%, the first monthly decline since March 2021 as the labor force contracted by 363,000 people.

CNBC also reports there is a gap of about 5.6 million between job postings and available workers.

“Demand for labor remains very strong; the problem is a shortage of available workers, and the decline in the labor force participation rate in April could add to wage pressures,” PNC’s Chief Economist Gus Faucher told CNBC.

However, teenagers are coming to the rescue of businesses struggling to find employees, reports the Wall Street Journal. There are more teenagers in the workforce now than there were before the 2008-09 financial crisis when summer jobs for teens were seen more as a “rite of passage.”

Unemployment among 16- to 19-year-old workers was at 10.2% in April, and about a third of U.S. teens in that age group are now working. Teen unemployment rates were at a historic high of 31.9% in April 2020.

One restaurant owner interviewed by the Journal says that his nearly all-teen staff allowed him to open a second restaurant. The owner enticed teen workers with wage increases when he couldn’t find adult workers, and he’s adjusted his labor model accordingly, such as expanding a 10-day training process into a month in which his new young hires shadow more-experienced workers, learn the menu, practice using a point of sale system and build confidence speaking with customers.

College graduates are also in high demand by employers, but they have expectations to match, reports the Journal. This group of workers expects a higher salary than previous generations of recent grads, with 53% said their starting salary was greater than they expected, while 41% said it was what they anticipated, according to a survey of more than 1,000 college seniors from TimelyMD.

Tech and consulting fields now have entry-level starting salaries in the six figures, and other employers in fields such as social sciences to engineering plan to raise pay for the 2022 graduating class above what they paid the class of 2021.

Also, college grads want to know the specific responsibilities a job will entail. If they can’t get to the bottom of exactly what they’ll be doing, they’ll skip to the next job posting that does tell them. They also want to know what a company’s culture is, with one-third of surveyed recent or soon-to-be grads saying they wouldn’t work for an organization without a diverse workforce, and one quarter said they wanted to see diversity in leadership.

The class of 2022 also wants work flexibility in their new roles, with the ability to work remotely if they want. Sixty percent of 571 respondents to a March and April survey of seniors from recruiting-software firm iCIMS said they wanted a hybrid arrangement. However, employers should expect many new hires to want face-to-face time in a physical office setting, as many graduates desire in-person interactions with their future colleagues, having spent years in virtual internships and courses, reports the Journal.

While the young generations are helping fill in labor gaps, business also should be turning to the other end of the generational spectrum and actively embracing older workers, says Bloomberg.

While the labor force participation rate for Americans between ages 55 and 64 has returned to pre-pandemic levels, the rates for those in their late 60s and 70s are still lagging, which Bloomberg calls a “shame,” as older workers bring valuable experience, such as good customer service skills. A study found that across U.K. McDonald’s restaurants, customer satisfaction was 20% higher on average in locations with staff age 60 and over.

Bloomberg says that companies can boost their population of older workers by helping jobseekers apply for roles on the spot. Also, the more older workers that jobseekers see in the stores, the more likely they’ll apply. Companies should also give their workers more flexibility in their schedules, such as offering part-time positions with shorter shifts.

Companies should also create more opportunities for mature workers, such as internships or apprenticeships. And it’s also important to have a broad range of roles available, since some older workers may have a hard time lifting heavy loads or standing for long periods of time.

“Inflation, particularly damaging to those on fixed incomes, may ultimately encourage more older people back to work,” writes Bloomberg. “In the meantime, companies should be doing as much as they can to attract a diverse range of applicants. Talent can be found across all ages.”

The right training and development can position your fringe recruits for success, leading to increased retention, better customer service and ultimately more profits. That is why NACS partnered with Ready Training Online (RTO), a premier solutions-provider for learning management and web-based training. Through RTO, we offer comprehensive solutions for a variety of training needs.  Go to to learn more.