You recently graduated university. Finally! After 5 years of hard work, and partying hard, you made it to the finish line. You start looking for a job and realise it's not as easy as you thought it would be. You start panicking and decide to sign the first contract that crosses your path.
I am one of those recent graduates and I honestly don't know what I want to do for the next decade. I barely know what I want to eat for dinner, how am I supposed to know what the rest of my career wil look like? Does anyone know for that matter?
I honestly don't know what I want to do for the next decade
Looking for a job is quite the challenge when you don't know where you're headed. So when an employer presents you your first contract, you can't sign it fast enough. You're just happy you were able to find something. However, many young people, me included, soon realise they didn't make the right decision. I didn't know what would make me like my job. I just thought that if the tasks were fine and the people were nice, I would be alright. Turns out, there are many more aspects that make you get up in the morning, 5 days a week. On top of that, it takes time to adapt to work life. Throw in a job you don't feel engaged at and you've got yourself the recipe for inevitable stress.
You might ask yourself, why did I chose the wrong job or company? Except the fact that there are an awful lot of career choices, I strongly believe many wrong hires can be prevented by those in charge of recruitment.
Vacancies or Talent Traps?
All vacancies are the same. They talk about what they look for in an employee together with a list of responsibilities. These responsibilities often do not even reflect reality. Much like the listed benefits they are mostly templates. Everyone offers a competitive salary, fringe benefits, flexible hours and holidays. Replace the company name on top of the page and you wouldn't notice the difference. Troubling isn't it?
When I was looking for a job, I wanted a company to be crystal clear about their company culture. Stating you have monthly ping-pong tournaments or free beer on Fridays won't make me want your company more. It's about having the same values, beliefs and the desire to grow, together.
We are always told our applications have to stick out so that we'll get noticed. We know we're not the only ones graduating that year and that competition is tough. But trying to attract people by only being good on paper won't get both of us anywhere. There are thousands of vacancies out there that seem to fit us perfectly. However, when we end up on the job, we realise it's nothing like we were promised. Is it then so surprising job hopping has doubled over the last year?
What I think are some common mistakes made by employers:
- Don't promise trainings when you know you won't be able to give any.
- Don't describe your company culture as dynamic and horizontal when employees are barely involved.
- Don't promise a clear personal growth path when your employees are reviewed once or twice a year.
Companies invest money in us, young talents, and when we leave, they have to start looking for someone else, probably making the same mistake again. We, on the other hand, invest time and energy in your company but we don't get any fulfilment so we decide to leave and look for a different opportunity.
Don't sugarcoat your company because in the end, this will only do you wrong.
Companies Are Egocentric
Job interviews are almost always about how you can be an asset to the company. What your skillsets are, what you studied, how well you are at teamwork, and the list goes on and on. It's basically a rundown of checkboxes they need to tick to know if you will benefit them rather than the other way around. You don't often get to know how they can make you develop your skills, feel engaged and grow, both personally and career wise. How can it be that the most important aspects of job satisfaction aren't even mentioned at a place where you will be spending 5 days a week? And WHY are we even afraid to ask them ourselves? Something is fundamentally wrong. However, this doesn't mean it can't be changed.
Questions to ask during job interviews:
- Can you give me an example of a young employee in your company and how your company made that person grow.
- What opportunities differentiate you from other companies?
- Can you show me a clear growth path someone has made in your company?
- What do you do to keep your employees engaged?
- Are there any trainings available?
By now you're probably wondering how you can make sure you end up in thé right job? You have to decide for yourself what you consider to be important such as your priorities, values and learnings and see if these fit with the company you're applying for. This way both your expectations are met and no one will face any unpleasant surprises.
Check out the video by Arne on how to hire and retain young people and let me know what you think!