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Advice for Employers and Recruiters

How 16 employers improved how they hire apprentices

Anita Jobb AvatarAnita Jobb
February 15, 2024

Yesterday, we discussed how employers are making changes to how they hire interns to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, or both of their internship hiring programs. Today, let’s have a look at how employers are making changes to how they hire apprentices.

We asked 16 employers to share with us one way that their organization — or one they previously worked at — improved its hiring of apprentices.

  • Implement Mentorship and Training
  • Develop Comprehensive Apprenticeship Programs
  • Adopt Mentorship-Driven Recruitment
  • Focus on Potential and Passion
  • Search for Talent in Unconventional Places
  • Incorporate Peer Reviews in Selection
  • Align Hiring with Recruitment Cycles
  • Introduce Trial Period for Fit Assessment
  • Launch Online Apprentice Application Portal
  • Initiate Pre-Apprenticeship Workshop Series
  • Integrate Practical Skills Assessment
  • Engage with Niche Online Communities
  • Structure Rigorous Assessment Processes
  • Establish Year-Round Recruitment Cycle
  • Partner with Educational Institutions
  • Introduce Gamified Application Process

Implement Mentorship and Training

At my previous workplace, we enhanced our apprentice hiring process by implementing mentorship programs. We paired apprentices with experienced employees who provided guidance, training, and support throughout their apprenticeship. This mentorship helped apprentices learn the ropes faster, develop new skills, and feel more confident in their roles.

Additionally, we offered structured training sessions and opportunities for hands-on experience to ensure apprentices received comprehensive learning experiences. By prioritizing mentorship and structured training, we successfully improved the onboarding and development process for apprentices in our organization.

Julian Bruening, CEO, MLP Software Development

Develop Comprehensive Apprenticeship Programs

One effective strategy we implemented was the development of a comprehensive apprenticeship program. This program included structured on-the-job training, mentorship, and classroom instruction. By clearly outlining the expectations and benefits of the apprenticeship, we were able to attract more qualified candidates. Additionally, we partnered with local educational institutions to ensure a steady pipeline of potential apprentices. This approach significantly improved our hiring process for apprentices.

Omer Lewinsohn, General Manager, Marketing Expert,

Adopt Mentorship-Driven Recruitment

At a cloud-hosting company I was involved with, we made a significant improvement in our approach to hiring apprentices by implementing a mentorship-driven recruitment process. This strategy emerged from recognizing that traditional hiring methods often overlooked candidates with high potential but less conventional backgrounds or experiences.

We started by partnering with local tech schools, boot camps, and community colleges, focusing on candidates who demonstrated a passion for technology and a willingness to learn, rather than just those with the most impressive resumes. Each candidate who joined us as an apprentice was paired with a seasoned mentor from day one. This mentorship was not just about guiding them through their daily tasks but also about providing a comprehensive understanding of the cloud-hosting industry, our company culture, and the technical skills needed to excel in their role.

This approach had a dual benefit. First, it allowed us to assess candidates more holistically, observing how they learned, adapted, and contributed to projects, rather than making decisions based purely on academic or technical qualifications. Second, it helped us cultivate a learning culture within our organization, encouraging knowledge sharing and continuous professional development among all employees, not just apprentices.

The result was a more engaged, motivated, and skilled set of apprentices who often transitioned into full-time roles within the company. This mentorship-driven hiring process not only improved our talent pipeline but also enhanced our organizational culture, making it more inclusive and supportive. It’s a powerful example of how rethinking traditional hiring practices can unlock tremendous value for both the organization and its people.

Kamran Maqbool, CEO, Green Cloud Hosting

Focus on Potential and Passion

When it comes to attracting apprentices, especially the right ones, it can be a bit of a roller-coaster ride. Approaches differ between industries, and I believe it is a process that requires continuous development to stay up to date with modern times. 

One company that I worked for turned away from the traditional approach of relying completely on experience and education. They were far more interested in determining if the candidate had a real passion for the work. 

Their sole focus was on potential; they had a rather intense screening process where you needed to complete several tests, including skill, aptitude, and personality assessments. This was then coupled with a motivational-type interview where they asked open-ended questions.

This method worked wonders for their hiring process, as it relied more on the candidate’s thought process and problem-solving skills than on reciting factual information. This also showcased their critical thinking skills and their learning agility. 

This assisted them in hiring candidates who did not necessarily fit the bill but who had a real talent for the work. I learned a valuable lesson from this: It is not always about certifications, education, and experience that make you the best for the role; passion and dedication are what companies need from their employees.

Ryan Carrigan, CEO & Founder, moveBuddha

Search for Talent in Unconventional Places

We found great success in looking for talent in unconventional places, often where others wouldn’t typically search. Additionally, we tapped into our own user base, community, and customers to discover hidden talents that proved to be valuable assets to our team. This approach allowed us to bring in fresh perspectives and skills while strengthening our relationship with our user community.

John Xie, Co-Founder and CEO, Taskade

Incorporate Peer Reviews in Selection

We optimized our apprentice hiring by incorporating peer reviews into the final round of our selection process. Candidates met with current apprentices for casual discussions about their experiences and expectations. This peer interaction provided valuable insights to both sides, ensuring a good fit for our company culture and the apprenticeship program. It’s strengthened our hiring process by adding a layer of personal insight that traditional interviews might miss.

Ryan Hammill, Executive Director, Ancient Language Institute

Align Hiring with Recruitment Cycles

My past employers started to match their apprentice hiring with their regular recruitment cycles. I’ve seen that lining up hiring for apprenticeships, regular jobs, and the recruiting schedule is hard because of the many schools we recruit from, the constant flow of hiring events and job ads, and the times when our team needs work done. Ideally, you’d have full-time job openings ready right when your apprenticeship program ends. This lets your company offer jobs to the best people in the program. Then, they’re more likely to stay with your company instead of looking for jobs somewhere else.

Not planning this well can mean losing a lot of money because good candidates get overlooked. Spending time and resources on a great candidate during an internship or co-op, and then not offering them a job because of bad timing, means you might lose them to another company. If you spot a really good candidate early, either during the internship or before it, you can set up job openings to match the end of the internship. This way, the candidates know there’s a job waiting for them later. This is something you see a lot in the accounting field, where they sometimes hire interns and full-time employees one to two years ahead to keep the best talent.

Henry Brook, Founder, The Page

Introduce Trial Period for Fit Assessment

Implementing a trial period as part of the hiring process provided both the candidates and our organization with a no-commitment opportunity to assess fit. This period allowed prospective apprentices to demonstrate their skills and adaptability while giving us the chance to evaluate their performance in a real-world context before making a long-term commitment.

Bradley Fry, Owner, PinProsPlus

Launch Online Apprentice Application Portal

One way we enhanced our hiring of apprentices was by implementing an online portal specifically for apprentice applications. This portal streamlined the application process, making it easier for candidates to submit their information and for us to manage and review applications efficiently. We included detailed information about the apprenticeship programs, expectations, and potential career paths within our organization on the portal, which helped attract candidates who were a good fit for our company. This digital approach has significantly improved the efficiency and effectiveness of our hiring process.

Michael Donovan, Co-Founder, Niche Twins

Initiate Pre-Apprenticeship Workshop Series

We improved the hiring of apprentices by initiating a pre-apprenticeship workshop series. These workshops, held a few weeks before the official selection process, offered potential candidates a chance to learn basic skills, understand our company culture, and get a feel for the work environment. 

It served as a preliminary screening tool and preparedness program, significantly improving the match between our needs and the apprentices’ expectations and abilities. This proactive approach has led to higher success rates in our apprenticeship programs and increased satisfaction among new apprentices.

Hardy Desai, Founder, Supple Digital

Integrate Practical Skills Assessment

We revolutionized our approach to hiring apprentices by integrating a practical skills assessment into our selection process. Instead of relying solely on interviews and resumes, we created real-world tasks related to the roles they would be filling. This method helped us to better gauge the candidates’ abilities and how they approach problem-solving, ensuring a higher success rate in selecting individuals who are truly prepared for the challenges of the apprenticeship. This hands-on assessment has not only improved our selection process but also set clear expectations for the applicants about the job.

Roman Zrazhevskiy, Founder & CEO, MIRA Safety

Engage with Niche Online Communities

Accessing niche talent willing to apprentice and master fresh workflows is vital but tricky amid labor movement inertia. Postings yielded generic applicants lacking the grit to upskill into a fluid role. I knew, though, that attaining remote teams meant tapping into globally passionate communities already assembled.

So, I began participating in niche, distributed-worker forums, sharing our vision, and then cross-referencing discussion standouts with apprentice postings. The result? Zero mid-level candidates, but three eager specialists from Ukraine to South Africa were selected after grueling video panel assessments of their hunger and collaborative mindsets.

Nitai Aventaggiato, Founder & CEO, Helpmonks

Structure Rigorous Assessment Processes

In my previous organization, we improved our hiring of apprentices by implementing a structured and rigorous assessment process. This allowed us to identify the most suitable candidates who demonstrated both the necessary skills and potential for growth.

One key aspect of our assessment process was the inclusion of practical exercises and real-world scenarios. This helped us evaluate the apprentices’ ability to apply their knowledge and problem-solving skills in a practical setting. For example, in our IT apprenticeship program, we would provide candidates with a simulated technical issue and observe how they approached and resolved it. This gave us valuable insights into their problem-solving abilities and their ability to think on their feet.

Additionally, we recognized the importance of soft skills in the success of our apprentices. Therefore, we incorporated behavioral interviews into our assessment process. These interviews allowed us to assess the candidates’ communication skills, teamwork abilities, and their alignment with our organization’s values and culture. For instance, we would ask candidates to describe a challenging situation they faced in a team setting and how they navigated through it. This helped us gauge their ability to work collaboratively and adapt to diverse situations.

By implementing this comprehensive assessment process, we were able to select apprentices who not only possessed the necessary technical skills but also exhibited strong problem-solving abilities and fit with our organization’s values. This resulted in a higher success rate of apprentices completing their training and ultimately becoming valuable contributors to our organization.

Paul Eidner, Chief Operating Officer, CarnoGel®

Establish Year-Round Recruitment Cycle

We have enhanced the hiring of apprentices by establishing a year-round recruitment cycle instead of seasonal or periodic hiring. This continuous approach allows us to engage with potential candidates at all times, keeping the pipeline full and ensuring that we never miss out on talented individuals simply because of timing. 

It has also allowed us to be more responsive to our operational needs, scaling our workforce efficiently. This shift to ongoing recruitment has provided us with a competitive advantage in attracting and securing the best apprentices, irrespective of the traditional hiring seasons.

Stephen Hasner, Managing Partner, Hasner Law PC

Partner with Educational Institutions

In a previous workplace, we recognized the need to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application and enhanced our apprenticeship hiring process by taking small but impactful steps. We started by establishing partnerships with legal education institutions to identify top talent early on. It was a proactive approach that helped to engage with potential apprentices while they were still on their academic journey, fostering a seamless transition from classroom to courtroom. Over time, our commitment to mentorship evolved, and we transitioned to a structured program that paired apprentices with seasoned lawyers. This personalized mentorship approach proved to be instrumental in the professional development of apprentices.

Alex Freeburg, Owner, Freeburg Law

Introduce Gamified Application Process

To enhance our apprenticeship hiring, we introduced a competitive gamification element to the application process. Candidates participated in industry-related challenges and tasks, fostering a spirit of competition and innovation. 

This approach not only made the hiring process more engaging but also allowed us to observe candidates’ practical skills, teamwork, and how they handle pressure. Gamifying the recruitment process has been a game-changer, attracting a wide array of talented individuals eager to demonstrate their abilities in a dynamic setting.

Gillian Dewar, Chief Financial Officer, Crediful

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