This past week I moderated a workforce readiness panel geared toward Millennials soon to enter the workforce. The panel answered a series of questions to help assist these Millennials understand the reality of what human resource officers are looking for in employees. I sat down with two of panelists afterward, Susan Bunz of Pioneer Hybrid and Jenifer Owenson of Ankeny Community Schools. I asked them a series of questions and compiled the answers into two themed groups. In this post, I will focus on that first theme, "Five underrated areas that young professionals need for a job."
1. G.P.A. : Many young professionals don't believe their grades matter, reasoning that grades do not reflect how smart you are. There's some truth to that theory, however, grades do reflect your ability to follow directions and how hard you work, which is a huge plus for an employer. An absent G.P.A. on a young professional's resume would raise flags. Maybe you have something to hide. If you had a 4.0 wouldn't you flaunt it?
2. Work History: HR professionals understand that times are different and workers of today do not display the same sense of loyalty as the previous generation of workers. However, commitment matters and if you hop around from job to job there better be a more compelling reason than "my boss and I had differences." A big red flag is gaps in workplace employment, the HR executives are wondering "what happened there, did they get fired? Are they to undesirable to hire?"
3. Internships: Beyond the work skills that are acquired while participating in an internship, the biggest benefit is the relationships that are built. Not only do you have a better understanding of the culture, style, and jargon of a particular business, but you've also made valuable connections that can benefit you later as references or better yet the job itself. Some businesses look at internships as six-week-long interviews. Perform well and there might be a long-term position in your future.
4. Volunteerism: Millennials may have a lack of job experience and older Millennials and young Xers may suffer from the work-history dilemma mentioned above. So another area that young professionals can take seriously is their volunteer history. Many high schools, colleges and YP groups have numerous volunteer opportunities available. Whether it's at church, in school or in the community, these activities not only help you build different skills, but also show commitment, professionalism, work ethic, employee/peer relationship and camaraderie.
5. Leadership: Many young professionals have an incomplete idea of what leadership means, it's not just being in charge. For the Gen Xer, that may be some relief in that statement and for the Millennial, some disappointment. Yet, in reality, leadership has more to do with initiative, confidence and integrity. Have you demonstrated those characteristics academically, professionally or socially? Can that be verified on your transcripts, your work history, internships or community service? If so, then you are on the right track to getting the job you want
The next YP blog post will tackle "Five intangible skills that young professionals need for a job."