Three Key Competencies for Young People Searching for their First Job

March 9, 2022

Acclaim Energy has been recruiting top talent for many years, and this article reminded me that it was 27 years since I got my first job. It has been a journey with ups and downs, and many experiences that have contributed to my learnings and those of multiple colleagues who have made me appreciate both the value of teamwork and solitude. In hindsight, I would have appreciated it if someone had guided me on what I could have done differently to strengthen my skills and increase the value I could bring to an organization, thereby improving my chances of being hired.

With that in mind, I would like to share more than two decades from my experience in consulting and Human Resources, to help those entering the labor market.

In your search for the first job, the biggest obstacle is overcoming the lack of experience. Fortunately, more companies are willing to give people without previous work experience a chance, if the prospect has certain characteristics that make the risk small for the hiring company. I believe that the best advice is simple, practical, and comes from my own experience and is selflessly given, and it is in this spirit that I share this wisdom with you. All of which can be especially useful for students in the last semesters of a degree and who are about to finish or who want to start working soon.

In the search for the first job, the biggest obstacle that a candidate usually encounters is the lack of experience. Fortunately, more companies are willing to give people without previous work experience a chance, if the prospect has certain characteristics that make the risk inherent in preferring a rookie over a veteran profitable. Below I briefly present three skills that you can develop if you are interested in improving your prospects for employment.

Collaborative work ethic.

When in a job interview, the person is asked to share their strengths and areas of opportunity, a large majority mention teamwork as one of their strengths. To make a difference from the rest of candidates, it is important to have a true awareness of what an employer looks for in people. The first thing is to be clear that in modern organizations, the speed of change of the environment and of the tools and resources, make collaborative work practically mandatory. There are very few objectives that can be achieved through isolated work. Normally, multiple interactions, varied knowledge, and teams made up of personnel from different areas, with complementary training and experience, are required.

But it is not enough to be clear about the importance of collaboration, we must demonstrate that we can put it into practice: that we appreciate the differences between people and that we see them as an opportunity to complement our own strengths or those of our teammates. Team. You need to demonstrate that you can adapt and communicate with diverse audiences, do not require the spotlight, or need to be take center stage.

Fortunately, this competence can be developed outside of work. The life of the student is full of opportunities to do so, whether in the practice of some sport or extracurricular group activity, or in the preparation of tasks and teamwork. The important thing is to become aware of the importance of these opportunities as they happen, and instead of getting frustrated when things don’t go as expected, see them as an opportunity to strengthen a valuable skill.

Agility and interest in learning.

When a company is willing to hire someone who doesn’t know about their business or the specific tasks they’re going to perform, it’s usually because they’re willing to teach them about it. This has a cost, in time and money, and any organization with a clear focus on results will seek to make this investment productive in the shortest possible time. Hence the importance of looking for profiles that demonstrate the ability to acquire new knowledge and put it into practice quickly.

Although school grades are usually a good indicator of this ability, they are not the only one’s considered by HR. Not all learning takes place in structured environments or in face-to-face classes at school. To demonstrate strength in this area, it is important to have examples such as learning new languages or new skills, especially if they are extracurricular or elective, as this demonstrates an interest in enriching your knowledge. This can include experiences such as training based on coaching or master-apprentice schemes, whether in sports or volunteer activities.

Focus on results.

This is another competition that holds a privileged place in the popularity lists of those being interviewed and its one’s ability to deliver results. The problem begins when HR practitioners break down the competition into its component elements and realize that the number of people who can really demonstrate strength in each of their groups is much smaller than anticipated.

To begin, thinking about results implies that you can define what they are going to be and how they are going to be measured. This implies an analytical capacity to establish key indicators that really allow evaluating the achievement of a goal, as well as tools and information that allow for the monitoring of its behavior over time. Being able to give an example of a personal experience that includes these elements is not the same as simply saying that we are willing to do whatever it takes to meet an objective.

Second, this competency requires the ability to be persistent in pursuit of achievement. The results that have the greatest impact, usually do not occur in the short term, but rather require constant adjustments over long periods, which ideally should be based on measurement and focused on the activities that have the greatest impact on the performance of the indicators. .

Finally, it is important that the focus on results is balanced with a focus on people. Understanding that those responsible for achieving results are not machines but requires being able to give and be open to receiving timely, objective, useful and respectful feedback that allows them to adjust their performance to be in line with the pursuit of important goals.

Although it is not common to have opportunities to demonstrate and develop this competence before belonging to a company, it is possible to find examples, such as personal improvement projects: learning a new language, learning to play a musical instrument, training to run a long-distance race, or in general anything that requires a prolonged effort that can be followed up with clear and measurable indicators.

Depending on the type of job sought, there may also be specific technical skills for the position, which are not the subject of this article. However, the three key competencies we’ve mentioned here are valued for many entry-level positions in virtually any organization. For any personal improvement plan, the first step is awareness. Look for opportunities to develop these skills, so that when you are interviewed you can give concrete examples that will allow you to stand out from other candidates.

Thank you for your attention to these lines and good luck to all in your search processes. Watch for my follow up articles on this same subject.