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Employers benefit when students earn while they learn

Here we’ll take a look at students to round out our four-part series on the top categories – or personalities – of hourly job seekers. In the past three months, we’ve brought you insights into what makes retirees, part timers and career hourly workers tick and spotlighted the advantages of hiring them. Last, but certainly not least, we’ll spotlight students who want to earn while they learn (or while they take the summer off) to show you how you can attract them to your jobs, just in time for the summer hiring blitz.

Research has shown that approximately 70 to 80 percent of students work while attending college and that about 17 percent of high school students hold jobs — although that percentage spikes in the summer months. And because they’re juggling school and work, students by and large hold hourly positions, which typically provide more flexibility in schedule.

The age range for the majority of hourly student workers is narrow – from around age 16 to their early 20s – but the motivation behind working while attending school is varied and changes slightly based on if the student is in high school or college. High school students almost exclusively work to gain a little extra cash. However, it’s important to consider that some are working to gain experience they can use to beef up their college applications, or that they’re helping to support their families.

When it comes to college students, some work for spending money, others work to supplement the financial assistance they’re getting to pay for school, some work to continue to help support their families and others want on-the-job experience to complement their studies.

The schedules that students work also are varied. According to the American Council on Education, college students spend 30 hours a week on average working while attending classes, and about one-quarter of full-time students also work full time. High school students, with a far more structured schedule, are relegated to shifts that begin in the afternoon or early evening. And in both groups, some students only work when they’re on break or on the weekends.

There are many advantages for employers in hiring student workers. Younger demographics have a strong willingness to learn, so training will come naturally. While many student workers need a flexible schedule, they also value consistency. Once a student has formed a relationship with an employer, many students will continue working with the same employer for years. And loyalty means reduced turnover and training costs, plus it means you have employees compounding their value because they know their way around your business. Finally, students usually are on break during a business’s busiest times – summer and the holiday season – leaving them free to work the extra shifts that other part-time employees may not be able to cover.

If you like the idea of hiring students for your hourly positions, you’ll need to look at your job opportunities like a student would and pick out the key perks that mean the most to this group.

  • - Flexibility – Probably the most important job benefit, flexibility is critical for student workers. Flexibility doesn’t necessarily mean that the student works different schedules every shift, but it could mean that an employer is willing to set a schedule that accommodates the student’s class schedule. If you’re willing to go the extra mile and adjust schedules again around exams, you’ll stand out as an employer who understands students’ needs.
  • - Pay – While some students are working just for the experience, many are working because they need the money. If you offer competitive pay, bonuses for a job well done or other perks that equal cash (employee discounts are huge), you’ll stand out.
  • - Location – Some  high school students don’t have cars and some colleges don’t allow freshmen to have cars on campus. And students with cars still value lower-fare public transportation options over paying for gas, particularly in urban areas where parking is at a premium. Is your business on a public transportation line? Are you within walking distance from campus or from a large apartment complex? If so, highlight this perk in your job descriptions.
  • - Experience  As previously mentioned, some students work solely for the job experience or to be able to give their college application a boost. But even those who are more focused on earning money want their time to be well worth it. Every job offers skills and experience that can help build applications or resumes, but not every employer recruits with this in mind. Think about the experience your job will provide and highlight those learning opportunities.

If your job opportunities have these attractive qualities, you may be able to land fantastic student employees who earn while they learn, while you tap into the value this eager group can provide.

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Courtney Moyer is a content producer at Snagajob. When she’s not creating content for employers, she can be found painting anything that stands still, pretending she’s the next Food Network Star, or spending QT with her husband and Abraham Lincoln – the dog, not the president.

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