TIPS FOR FRESH GRADS (AND THOSE LOOKING FOR A FRESH START)

 

Work is a great way to expose us to new environments and challenges, presenting us with experiences that will further develop our skills as well as our character.

But for this to happen, we need to find the environment that is most conducive. So if you are young and looking for work, how should you go about it?

 

Know yourself

You have only just graduated so you may think you haven’t got much to say on a CV or a job application. But having spent around 24 years on this planet, there are experiences you have had, observations you have made, things you have learned, views you have started to form. Write them down. Reflect on them. Figure out what makes you tick, what doesn’t. Discern your likes and dislikes. Find your highs and your lows. What you are proud of, where you could have done better. Your self-awareness and ability to extract lessons from experiences will start set you apart from others.

 

Get curious!

You have access to mounds of information on various industries, sectors and even the businesses themselves. Instead of spending time on social media pressing like and share, you might be better off doing some research to see what appeals to you. Make a list of companies that interest you. See what attracts you and what doesn’t. Look up the people who work there. Does anything/anyone resonate?

 

Be brave (and vulnerable)

Reach out to the companies and people you have identified to learn more. It may seem daunting picking up the phone or sending a mail to a complete stranger, but the world we live in is intimately connected. Jump on LinkedIn and track them down. See if you know someone who knows them. Create and leverage your network. Once you get hold of them, ask them about what they do. What they love about it, what they don’t. What types of people do they look for? Do you fit? Don’t hold back from telling people your aspirations. Even be brave enough to say you don’t know and you’re exploring. You will see that people are pretty kind and are willing to lend a helping hand because you know what, we’ve been there, we know what it’s like. Decent people will help and encourage you to find the right path.

 

Listen

A mentor once told me, “You have two ears, and one mouth use them in that proportion (and engage the grey matter in between)”. Ask smart questions and listen intently. Listen to what is said and what is not said – sometimes more is shared in the spaces in between. And also listen to yourself – some call it their gut, others their intuition, this will help you figure out if something is right for you or not – the package may be tempting, but are these people you want to spend your time with?

 

Do It!

Don’t be surprised if you are offered an opportunity along the way. Don’t overthink it. At some point, you must take a decision, and once you do, do it wholeheartedly. Just make sure you can learn from your boss, and s/he or someone else in the organisation will take you under their wing.

Rethinking Startup Success

We often hear ‘it’s a great company, they’ve raised $x’. This is the wrong metric, and recent disasters (e.g. WeWork, Uber and Theranos) have confirmed this. Thought it was time to peel back the layers on what we should be looking at. Here’s the article featured in Entrepreneur Middle East. read more

Discussion on AI & Intellectual Property

A recent article in Technology Review posed the question of whether AI can be an inventor. In principle, it’s a debate around IP law and whether AI can own ideas it generates. Check out the debate generated on LinkedIn. It’s worth a read. Additional views always welcome. read more

State of MENA Startups 2019

Following on from the recent report on the startup scene in the MENA Region (well done to MAGNiTT and 500 Startups for putting this together), here we peel back the layers on some of the issues raised. read more

THE DISCONNECT BETWEEN PEOPLE AND COMPANIES

If you speak to a young person about their job search, many will say they have applied to a number of companies through their online web portal but have never heard anything. And those that get rejected are disheartened because they never got to speak to a human being. They don’t know why they got a ‘no’ so they can’t even learn along the way. I think most of us hate to see anyone lose their confidence and enthusiasm in their search for a meaningful role, let alone those just embarking on their professional lives. What should businesses that care do to prevent this?

Purpose, Vision and Values

Many companies have their purpose, vision and/or values listed on their site, but are they compelling? Is it a purpose and mission that truly reflects what the company aspires to and not just spin? Purpose, vision and values are important, but more critical is the true culture of the organisation.

Given that cultural fit is a key component in determining the suitability and longevity of a person within an organisation, it would be beneficial both for the company and the applicant to have a good understanding of the character traits they look for in determining cultural fit. These should be clearly communicated on the website and you should even give tips to young people as to how these could be demonstrated. You could have candid biographies of your current star talent at different levels of the organisation, podcasts, even call ins for applicants who want to ask questions. Fostering a human touch will improve not only the caliber and breadth of applicants but also your standing as an organisation in the community.

More than a CV

Do you think a CV is a true reflection of who you are and your capabilities? Some exaggerate their capabilities whilst others play them down, but for some reason we still use this piece of paper as a major screening tool. How does a CV highlight an individual’s attitude, personality and character? Whilst aptitude, capabilities and skills are important, there have been countless studies showing that it is much easier to teach a skill than it is to transform an attitude.

We need to encourage applicants to show more of who they are – as human beings. It is often personal experiences that demonstrate resilience, character and determination – the golden nuggets for employers. Companies need to create the environment where people feel safe to be themselves.

Get the Business Lines Involved

If we were looking for widgets to fit into a machine, I would understand the current systems. But if today’s applicants don’t become our employees, they are tomorrow’s potential clients, investors and partners. Anything we do to help foster goodwill is a good investment, for today and the future. Let’s all take it upon ourselves to do our little bit in helping guide the next generation and not leave it to a web portal or HR. If nothing else, update your LinkedIn profile saying you are willing to take a call or an email. This in turn will say a lot about your character and who knows what doors could open for you in return?

Deborah is an advocate for business as a force for good, building companies that create value, in both financial and social terms.

Did this resonate and you’d like to know more? Please get in touch for your confidential one-to-one.

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