We all know and accept that for most employers being your career manager is not a priority for them - they very much see that as your responsibility. Of course the relationship between employee and employer is constantly evolving and different types of career choices are now being made by very different generational groups within the labour market.
The often quoted and at times disputed predicted number of jobs by generation during their ‘careers’ is definitely on the rise. The reasons seem many fold, from seeking a higher salary to being more prepared to move location, looking for a better brand fit and wanting training and development opportunities. Of course another factor is becoming increasingly relevant and that is the marked increase in restructuring and redundancy.
So if employers are increasingly forced into considering making individuals’ jobs redundant should they be surprised when employees stay for a shorter tenure and don’t identify with them as being long term career partners? That said is it a chicken and egg type conundrum; would employers invest more in individuals if they hung around longer or would employees hang around longer if they felt genuinely invested in?
Having studied generational career behaviours and attitudes towards employers on behalf of a global client, focusing on the Generation Y group, it seems clear that an impasse exists in this group at least. The most street wise, financially challenged, brand aware and disenfranchised generation ever has a low tolerance for being mis-sold careers by employers who over promise and under deliver; so that added to the threat of redundancy always potentially circling in the background means that the best talent is tough to attract and even tougher to keep.
Gen Y even call work ‘jobs’ rather than a ‘career’ now, because it is a series of jobs for many. Let’s face it unless in a profession like medicine or law does this definition of career still hold true?
Career (noun) …..an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person's life and with opportunities for progress.
I’m not sure it does....
When working recently with a range of people facing redundancy as a result of merger and restructure initiatives in a variety of industry sectors it became very apparent t our whole team that people are being left horribly exposed by both their own inaction and that of their employers in offering career support and information.
I see this issue as two fold; many schools, colleges and Universities are still not great at offering a genuinely embedded and popular employability programme. Parents paying the fees and demanding academic achievement above all else; embarked on their careers when employability wasn’t even a word and all that really mattered were exam grades; so as a result clearly talented but inexperienced careerists go into jobs where they need to understand their competencies and manage their careers and they don’t really know how to. When redundancy becomes real many are under prepared at best and typically unprepared. Who should take responsibility for creating this situation?
Fast track graduates and talented first or second jobbers can be seduced into joining some employers with ostensibly genuine and exciting talent attraction messages and development programmes; but how many of them last the distance or are expected to last the distance? How much does this impact their short and long term view of employers as career partners? Who is responsible for building trust between candidate / Employee and Employer about the concept of career?
The second part of the issue is the more traditional Generation X employees. These are the guys and girls who have mortgages and pensions and will have worked for far fewer employers than the following generations will / have had; for many reasons. They are loyal to their employers and have come to expect to be rewarded for their loyalty in the form of training, effective line management and career guidance as part of the deal which results in them working hard and staying put.
This group often has the challenge of being well paid and usually close to the top of their pay grade, making them expensive when the sums are done by those who instigate and organise business restructurings. As a result when faced with the prospect of losing their job, many people become angry and resistant, unable to even think about what’s next for them. Who should take responsibility for creating this situation?
I guess this career management stuff is a bit like going to the dentist. We all know that we need it but only perhaps we only go when something hurts or breaks? I also think, to stretch the analogy, in the past employers were like the NHS; supporting and funding the dentists when you needed it and also encouraging regular checkups and now they just can’t afford to fund this stuff and those who benefit from any kind of career coaching or guidance either pay for it themselves or get support when the tooth needs to come out i.e. redundancy. Who should take responsibility for creating this situation?
I am happy to come clean: we offer career coaching and talent development services, so I have a vested interest as a business owner in making this stuff more accessible to people. I also need to make a living and so pro-bono or low to no fee work just does not make sense commercially.
But then through the work we do I get to meet so many people who are totally forlorn, exposed and vulnerable that I constantly reflect on how we all jointly and individually can let this happen. Without a grasp on key competencies, a stand out CV and the confidence to go into the world and get noticed so many people are negatively impacted by redundancy and some never really recover in terms of career and more importantly confidence and self-worth.
I sincerely hope that the penny drops soon with more employers (and brand managers/PR experts within organisations) that career coaching / awareness support and genuine interaction with their staff to help them to manage their careers and futures within or without of their business rather than just being a cost to be afforded (or not) is a huge brand plus for people to recognise and buy into; both in terms of working for and buying from any business.
In so many areas in business we need to get back to understanding the value of things and not just their cost.
And don’t even get me started on the impact and consequences of zero hours contracts......maybe next time
here to edit.
In this article I want to explore the need for graduate employers and educators to collaborate successfully to ensure that the talent emerging into the job market understand the competencies employers are seeking, the competencies they possess themselves and crucially how they can demonstrate those competencies when it matters in selection environments from CV writing to interviews and Assessment Centres.
I have worked in employability in education for 10 years, as a recruitment consultant for graduate recruiters and prior to that as corporate recruiter, so I believe I have an informed view on this topic.
Whether global projects with multinationals like AXA or focused recruitment local work; the common themes are the gap between the competencies that employers want and a lack of awareness of those competencies from candidates. Even when the candidates understand the competencies required there is an absence of understanding of whether they have them and how to display them. So how do we close this gap and create understanding?
The answer is for employers to work with educators to create a vocabulary around competencies that is underpinned by practical, fun and realistic experiences where that vocabulary is used, understood and applied.
We run workshops at the University of Gloucestershire tackling this very issue. One student selected to talk through his competencies with the group began by stating that he did not have any that employers would be interested in as he had just bar work experience and was the 2nd XV rugby captain....
After 10 minutes of exploring what competencies he possessed we constructed a list of 10 that I reassured him many graduate recruiters would want; recruitment, budget management, conflict resolution, logistical organisation, strategic awareness, collaboration with stakeholders, leadership, communication, planning and team motivation. He was stunned and reassured that he had things to talk about he had not considered worthy of mentioning because of their context.
Building on this we have delivered events that focus on improving student awareness from Year 10 to final year of University. We look at personal brand, communication styles, performing under pressure (presentations and interviews) and have delivered a new ‘deconstructed’ Assessment Centre day where students not only gain great experience, they emerged understanding what we were looking for and how they had demonstrated those things; thanks to comprehensive feedback.
Understanding your USP’s and how the world experiences you is crucial to grasping what competencies you possess, owning them and talking authentically about them. Millennials are brand lucid and once they understand that they too are a brand and their own marketing department when it comes to career, competencies soon come into focus. We ask; How does your brand stand out from the competition? and competencies alongside behaviours, beliefs and attitudes are the answer.
Another innovation where the University has used us is the concept of speed networking for students embarking on their graduate job search, linking them with graduate employers with vacancies. It is not earth shatteringly in itself but what they asked us to do before the event was progressive.
We looked at confident communication, networking skills and crucially we looked at how to lucidly demonstrate competencies in the five minute informal conversations. It was an evolution of the elevator pitch using the vocabulary of competencies backed up by tangible evidence. Claiming a competency is great but being able to talk about a time when it was demonstrated and also understanding the bottom line was impacted is gold dust and exactly what any recruiter wants to hear.
As graduate employers and recruitment consultants we must take responsibility alongside our education partners to take the mystery out of competencies and how they are detected and measured in a recruitment context. We must get out there into the education community and give the talent of the future every chance to explore, understand and confidently talk about their competencies sharing a common vocabulary from recruitment through into employment.
Published in the Institute of Student Employers Magazine 2018
What is Personal Brand?
Definition: Personal Brand is the way you let the world know about who you are, your personality, values, skills and abilities. Personal Branding is similar to product branding, just applied to the individual. Your personal brand influences how other people view you; by highlighting your unique selling points and helping you to stand out from the crowd.
BUT your personal brand must be a real reflection of your identity; who you are and what you stand for, not just a fake image that you think is what people want to see. It's what people say about you when you are not in the room!
Being Authentic and Appropriate:
Why is your CV so important?
Employers only know as much as you tell them and they discover that information in a way that you can control.
A really effective CV allows the employer to see all of your qualities; the human being, the student and the candidate. Today academic qualifications are increasingly standard, a truly impactful CV can give you the edge by showing the employer the real you.
Personal Brand in your CV:
Your choice of font, structure and even paper tells the employer things about you. The words you use, how accurate the spelling and grammar is, whether you use boring language or exciting language and whether you put your personality into writing it all show through and give them an impression of you.
Don’t just create a boring standard document; think about how you can make a connection with them and stand out from the other CV’s in the pile without being weird and whacky just for the sake of it.
Facts and Evidence:
There is no point sending off a CV that just talks about things in theory. Employers want evidence. So your CV must give them that evidence.
Use concrete facts. Instead of saying ‘I served customers in the shop’ when you are trying to show customer service skills on your CV, you should say ‘I served over 100 customers each day either on the phone or face to face resolving complaints and managing payments’ suddenly you have told them what, how often and how, not just that you did it....
What do employers look for?
Employers just want the next CV that they look at to be perfect for the vacancy they have. They do not want to wade through 100 CV’s to find the right one, they have a list of things that they want to find and they need to be persuaded that you tick the boxes.
You need to understand what kind of a business they are, what type of job you are applying for and most importantly what sort of personality they want to see. Customer Service roles may require a very different personality to a Research Assistant and Police Cadet different to a Hair Dresser. Imagine yourself in the job - does it fit?
Walking the Talk:
There is absolutely no point in creating a CV that you cannot live up to in person. Our Confident Performance Workshop will help you to understand how to impress potential employers with your ability to perform under pressure BUT in terms of your personal brand - be honest about what you can do, be realistic about your ability to deliver and don't make claims for yourself that you cannot live up to. Once you are known as someone who over promises and under delivers it is a tough label to change.
Always Being On Duty for Your Brand:
You never know who might be able to help you in your career, you can never tell which job might be the one that can lead to a fantastic career of opportunities and personal development and so it is important that you always represent the best version of yourself that you can.
Whether you are visiting a career fair, talking to employers, meeting people socially or engaging in social media communication you should always think about the image you are projecting, how people will experience you and how they will remember you.
Some of the best career opportunities come when you least expect them; don't blow it by not being focused on projecting a brand that those meeting you will be impressed by. You are your own Marketing Department and you can control the way that the rest of world views you and as a result you can ensure that you give yourself the best possible chance of being successful in whatever career you choose.
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