Not long ago I interviewed a number of candidates for sales positions in the company I head. We are expanding so I was looking to groom a few potentials to grow with the company for the long haul. These are junior positions so I mostly met new graduates and a few who have worked for a year or two. I must say that I was a tad disappointed with my encounter with these young candidates.
The Generation Z (1996-2010) babies are an interesting bunch of people. They are sometimes referred to as open-minded, liberal, self-expressive, upbeat, and overtly passionate. They are connected, tech-savvy but sometimes multi-tasking too much for comfort. But the trait which hit me most during the recent interview sessions is that these young graduates expect instant gratification and recognition.
They are fresh from school and they do not really know what type of work they really want to pursue. They may apply for a job but when you speak to them you find that they are looking for something else. Their expectation on compensation does not commensurate with their work experience or ability. I do believe in rewarding performance but they are not willing to start first and demonstrate their worth.
Through years of interviewing candidates, I have come to frame the skill sets I look for in candidates. I believe these are important skills for any young job-seekers who want to excel in their careers. The world as we know has changed and is still changing. To survive is easy. But to really do well, I believe you will have to work on the following skills set.
- Leading and Collaboration
Leadership is an important skill. I really appreciate someone who would take initiative when an opportunity or problem arises. It takes time to grow to become a good leader. Be ready to learn from experience, trials and errors. It may come naturally to some, but leadership ability needs to be developed and honed through time.
Also, a leader is not a leader if there are no willing followers. Therefore leadership must always couple with the ability to collaborate with others as well. You must also be teachable and work with the team as well. Your goal is to be a person of influence.
- Critical Thinking and Problem solving
Critical thinking is the ability to use logic and reasoning to find solutions for problems. It is the ability to ask the right questions in order to evaluate options to arrive at good decisions and implementations.
Productive thinking is hard. Solving problems is troublesome. Many won’t bother. This is where you will have the opportunity to outshine others. Do not be afraid to volunteer or take on additional responsibilities if there is a need in the organisation.
- Selling and Entrepreneurship
Whether you like it or not, selling is a very important skill in life. When you attend a job interview, you are basically selling yourself to the potential employer. When you are out on a date, you are selling yourself as a prospective partner. Learn to sell early and it will reward you handsomely in life.
Entrepreneurship in employment is about taking ownership. You may just be an employee but if you approach your job with an entrepreneur’s mind set, you will go very far with your results. Approach any task or challenge as if it depends on you and I guarantee that your boss will appreciate you no end.
- Agility and Adaptability
The digital age requires you to be constantly learning and adapting to the changing environment. What you studied in school may already be partially outdated by the time you graduate. So read and keep up regularly on business trends and developments.
Your education does not end with school. Real learning starts after you have entered the business world. In any case, chances are you will may be pursuing a career that is different from your area of study. Keep an open mind. Always be ready to adopt and adapt when necessary to stay ahead.
- Oral and Written Communication
There is no point being smart if you are unable to communicate and express yourself well. Good communication is critical in your workplace, relationships and across many areas in your life. So be very good in at least one language, both oral and written. Strive to master two languages if you can, it will be your competitive edge. A good command of a second language will open up a new world.
I am trying to, but struggling to re-learn mandarin. Not easy. But imagine all the resources that I can access to (literature, wisdom, business ideas, history and culture) if I can pull my shit together and master mandarin.
- Analysing Information and Applying Knowledge
There is information overload nowadays. So much is available at our fingertips that we that things for granted. However, there is no need to remember everything. All you need to be is be resourceful and know how and where to get right information when the need arises.
But having so much information is useless unless we can make sense with it. Learn to analyse the information so that it becomes applicable knowledge. You will see results once knowledge is applied correctly.
- Curiosity and Imagination
Stay curious and be ready to pick up new skills and knowledge. Life is full of twists and turns and there is just no knowing what you will encounter in your career path.
There will always be alternatives and opportunities for you explore which may lead to something better. At the same time there will be distractions and detours that will throw you off course. Come what may, be ready to embrace change and work it to your advantage.
It is not too late
I wish I have been mature enough to understand and hone these skills when I was younger. Someone should have knocked my head and tell me to develop these skill sets. I would definitely be a better achiever then I am today.
My only consolation is that it is always not too late to learn. I am still learning and I am aspiring to be better.