I have written many articles on the challenge that young professionals face in launching their career after graduation.
My message is to not rest on academic laurels and to not assume that academic achievement alone will enable anyone to get the position they want. I encourage people to separate themselves from “the graduate herd”; to use education as the foundation on which to get a job and build a successful career.
Organizations are challenged to get top talent in the face of this dilemma.
Recruiters – gatekeepers – look across the table at well educated young people who all “look the same” on paper. Who all expouse the same reasons THEY should be hired; they graduated top of their class, they are fast learners, they have experience working in teams.
This isn’t really a new problem. Graduates have ALWAYS faced the problem of trying to land their first job with little or no experience. So they push their education as it is the primary prerequisite they have for any job.
My experience over 3-decades of leadership is that you have to dig deep to determine if the newbie candidate has the potential to add value to your organization in the long run.
Gatekeepers must explore these 5 areas to determine what lies below their education surface whether or not they have the potential to be a standout employee.
1. Did they do their homework on your organization? Do they understand the challenges you face? What level of initiative did they show in researching the issues you have in terms of financial performance, markets, competition, customer service, employee engagement and culture? Intensive due diligence on their part speaks volume about their level of interest in your team and their willingness to exploit themselves to help you succeed.
2. How would they use their education to address the critical issues they discovered in their research. They may not have direct experience to rely on, but they should be able to have a perspective on how they WOULD APPLY their knowledge and case studies perhaps, to solve your problems.
3. How do they answer the question “Why should I hire you and not the one of the hundred other applicants for the position?” The competition for jobs is intense and the need for individuals to standout from “the candidate herd” has never been greater. If they don’t have a desire to separate themselves from the crowd, hire someone who does.
4. Does their résumé look like everyone else’s or have they tried to present it in some unique way? Many candidates take the easy way out and use a boilerplate template to prepare their CV. Shows laziness and a lack of creativity. Pay attention to the weird ones.
5. How do they answer the question “Why should I hire you when your generation has a track record of not staying in one job for too long?” The new generation of employees carry the tag of “here today, gone tomorrow”; much has been written about entitlement and loyalty of the millennial crowd. Probe this issue; you don’t want to make a significant investment in taking on someone who has to “follow the north wind” in their DNA.
Finding top talent requires more than a lofty high level plan.
It’s the conversation that transpires between the applicant and the gatekeeper that makes the difference.
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