Youth Employers – what do we want?

I’ve read a lot lately about millennials and Gen Y and what it is that they’re looking for in terms of employers. What it is that organisations can do, offer, provide to attract and retain this area of the employment population. But I’ve equally been thinking about it from the other perspective given I’m passionate about youth employment and the roles that everyone plays from Schools through tertiary training providers and organisations play in preparing youth for employment. I regularly attend Job & Careers Fests, WorkChoice Days, meet with Universities, host High Schools and the like in my efforts to bridge the gap as a representative of my views and that of my organisation and feel that an area we’re all missing is what the employers are looking for from the situation. Because 99% of the time a completed degree and an eye catching CV alone aren’t going to cut it.

 

So what do companies want from this largely technologically advanced, digitally savvy sector of the market? I’ve complied a wish list of sorts:

Experience: Those who take the initiative to work part time or during holidays undoubtedly have an edge. They’re already somewhat work savvy. They have likely had to stick to hours, deadlines and task requirements and many will have had to work as part of teams, communicate with others and ideally provide some level of customer service.

Resilience: The ability to spring back from adversity, take the knock, get back up and try again is essential. Being able to look at yourself and learn from situations, people and tasks – to rise from the ashes in the face of tough or difficult times.

Initiative / Nous: Understanding the reality/practicality of a situation outside of having knowledge of the theory, and being confident in suggesting improvements and solutions.

Curiosity: A thirst for knowledge; to continually grow, develop and learn in the present and into the future. Being confident in asking questions and developing an understanding of the business, departments and wider market.

Conscientiousness: An awareness of the world around them. Of colleagues, clients, the wider organisation and extending into the world around them. Collaborative and communicative, a team player.

Change Ready: Innovative, creative and forward in the generation of new ideas and ways of working. Comfortable with change and changing tack to adapt to our ever changing world.

 

Having these skill sets under their belts in conjunction with their learning’s will see millennials, Gen Y’s and the like well in their search for employment. Displaying an attitude or outlook that is clearly ready to get stuck in, help out where needed, and putting a hand up for all opportunities offered will definitely all be viewed positively by employers. Having engaged, enthusiastic employees who are innovative and willing to learn is the ultimate goal for organisations.

Millennials / Gen Y – I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions….everyone else, what would you add to the list?

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PERSONAL BRANDING

How regularly do you think about or work on your personal brand? Have you actively created an image, mind set or persona of how you’d like to be viewed in the minds of others’ from a professional perspective? Do you know how you are viewed in your area of expertise or market?

Maybe we should take a couple of steps back, to what is a brand? A brand is everything from a design, image, colour, emotion, impression, tone, symbol etc that separates one thing from another; the unique identifiers. From a business perspective we know what this means and why we do it. We all know the golden arches of McDonalds, from childhood we associate this with fries and a burger, knowing that no matter what McD’s we go into we can guarantee what we’re going to encounter. But why would we do it from a personal perspective? The answers include the likes of better job prospects, extending your networks, recognition, reward, progression and development. Your personal brand is your reputation and your calling card, so in essence we’re building a brand around our careers to ensure they grow.

People with strong personal brands know their strengths; they know who they are and where they’re going. Personal brands are made up of values, passions, purpose and goals. To do this you’re going to need to know your why. I recently attended a seminar by Brand Strategist Phil Pallen (philpallen.co) hosted by the wonderful team at IMNZ who recommends refining your brand why to one sentence – that includes the essentials “What’s In It For Them” in terms of what you can do for other people. His being that “People need brands and companies need to show more personality” which tells us in a nutshell what he’s all about. Phil further believes that “the best branding recreates an in-person experience”. Meaning your brand needs to be authentic.

To be authentic you need to think both about yourself, and your audience. Knowing your audience will play a huge part in the marketing plan for your personal brand. It boils right down to the way you communicate, dress and present yourself, so be mindful of all of these things when thinking about your brand style. Yesterday I attended JobFest in Auckland, an event aiming at getting youth into employment and onto career paths. They had specifically been coached on the importance of the first impression, the way they dressed, approached hiring organisations, spoke and the way they carried themselves. Many of these young adults had taken this on-board and done a really impressive job of putting their best foot forward with their audience (hiring organisations) in mind. But others still had a long way to go so think too about where you sit on this scale and whether there are changes you could make, no matter how big or small to improve your outward-facing personal brand.

After these initial stages ensuring your brand is multiplatform is key to success. But more important is choosing platforms that sit well with you and what you’re trying to achieve with your brand, particularly when it comes to social media. Doing one or two exceptionally well will get a lot more cut through than spreading yourself too thin. Again, it’s important to keep the tone, look, feel and imagery consistent – it should all become instantly recognisable as you/your brand.

If you can back up social with further activity such as blogging, speaking at events, contributing to white papers, all the better as these will all contribute to growing your profile. Stick to the subject matters and areas you know you excel at, that provide a “what’s in it for me” for your audience. It’s also important to commit to continuing to learn and grow to stay relevant and continue to “solve problems” and engage that audience.

Having written this post I realise it’s a great reminder and there are certainly a few more things/changes I could make to my own brand. What changes will you put in place? And is there anything you would add to above that I’ve missed?

SOCIAL MEDIA FOR HR – BLOG SERIES

I was recently asked by the wonderful team at Elephant Training & HR to speak at their HR Advisors Conference on the use of Social Media in and for HR. I have now turned this into a series of four blogs that will be posted over the coming weeks.

The areas I see social media best benefitting and working with HR are as follows: Talent Attraction, Communication, Learning & Development and Social Employees and these will be the blog topics coming up.

But first….a look at the stats to keep in mind as you read the series…

SOCIAL MEDIA – THE STATS

It’s important to note that these staggering figures below are monthly users! And to give context, as of January 2016, the total worldwide population was 7.4 billion

  • Facebook: 1.55 billion
  • Youtube: 1 billion
  • Google+: 400 million
  • Instagram: 400 million
  • LinkedIn: 450 million
  • Pinterest: 100 million
  • Snapchat: 100 million
  • Twitter: 320 million
  • Vine: 100 million

I’m actively involved with 8 of these platforms, currently learning my 9th and still have one on my bucket list to master!

I think there are a lot of people out there at the moment particularly in the “People Professions” that are sceptical of social, who don’t engage with it from a professional standpoint, and even on a personal basis in some cases, as they’re nervous of the repercussions, not sure of how to use it – or indeed why they would use it.

But my argument would be how can you afford not to – you can see the numbers here……and I figure if I can teach my Mum how to use Facebook, albeit it’s taken a lot of time and patience to get her understanding that she doesn’t have to friend people, comment or like if she doesn’t want to and isn’t obliged to respond to every interaction, but she’s doing it and finally loving it.

Another example is my partner; a senior sales executive he will never “do that Facebook thing” (even though I’ve caught him checking out pics on mine on multiple occasions!) But he has fully embraced LinkedIn and is one of the most active users I know – he encourages it in his staff as well and as a result they’ve booked multimillion dollar media campaigns as a direct result of LinkedIn connections.

I ran a session on LinkedIn with another sales team and following that session one of the team made 32 targeted new connections with CEO’s specifically in their industry and has since followed those up to make 19 face to face meetings with those people.

So like I say – how can you afford not to tap into and utilise such an amazing resource? First blog coming up!

#WellnessWarrior

The hash tag in the headline is used across social media for those on a health kick and endorsing a healthy way of living, but it’s also used for those living with chronic illness or disease. The number of New Zealanders living with chronic illness is scarily high and on the rise according to figures from the Ministry of Health New Zealand Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study, 2006–2016, and I feel certain NZ won’t be alone in this phenomenon. Those who I do think could be feeling very alone are those dealing with chronic illness at work. Be it physical or mental, these are illness’ no one else can see, often described as invisible illnesses and being chronic, won’t be just a one off occurrence.

There is much written on this topic on line and in papers & magazines from the individual perspectives of those dealing with these situations; they describe  reactions from others towards them and their situations as ranging from disdain to disbelief and vague understanding to sincere sympathy. But even given how much information is out there and being written to raise awareness and understanding I think more often than not they simply exist without any acknowledgement. Most people living with chronic illness, especially those that can’t be seen prefer to do so in private for a whole host of reasons. They don’t want to be judged. They don’t want pity. They want to be able to join in conversations on normal topics without their viewpoints being taken the wrong way. And most of all they want to appear normal. Chronic illness or disease is often multifaceted, so not only will it recur, but there are so many moving parts to it in some cases that people feel unable or unwilling to explain the extent of their illness, using an umbrella approach or describing one part of the issue/s if at all.

So what can be done to help those living day in day out with chronic illness or disease? First and foremost as with everything in life be mindful; treat others as you would have them treat you, if you haven’t got anything positive to say don’t say anything at all and all those other wonderful mottos to live by our parents gave us. Just be aware that we don’t always know what other people are dealing with. And should they choose to confide in you be understanding, be sympathetic but don’t be patronising. And try to avoid offering helpful advice if you haven’t got any first-hand experience on what they’re going through. Suggesting trying yoga to someone in chronic pain or sympathising with how tired you are too to someone which chronic fatigue won’t help and are things they’ve probably heard a million times before. Instead ask them what, if anything, can be done to help them during the bad times, encourage them to let you know when they’re having particularly hard times so at the very least they’re not going through it alone.

There are many things that can be done in the workplace to help ease these situations, make the circumstances more manageable for people and to provide support. Many firms offer the likes of flexi working arrangements where days and hours of work can be negotiated; others offer on-site occupational health and safety in the form of nurses and or wellness advisors. Employee Assistance programmes can be useful too; both for those dealing with mental and physical illness as both can be a burden and talking it through with a professional can be immensely helpful. Above all creating a diverse and inclusive workplace culture will go a long way to making people feel they can be honest about these situations in the workplace. In today’s fast paced, technology driven, innovative, ever changing world many would feel it a sign of weakness to admit to and be honest about an illness, so it’s important we all work to create environments where this is ok.

As individuals I think if we all took just five minutes to Google a couple of hash tags we would learn a whole lot about living and working with chronic illness, and that in turn would bring more awareness in general. Hopefully that would also bring about more conversation and create more accepting and inclusive workplaces whereby people feel they can bring their whole selves to work. Therein lays my challenge to you: three hash tags, one minute for each on your choice of social media…#chronicillness #spoonie #invisibleillness to increase your own awareness.

Another Google search quickly unveiled a number of support groups, both in real life and via social media for an immense range of chronic illnesses. Ensure if someone does come to you or let you know they are dealing with something that you take it and them seriously and that you respect them coming to you. They may or may not know what other support is available out there, so help them explore the options available to them.

Be well!

Where have all the Millennials Gone?

I’ve been posing the same questions to most of the Agency Recruiters I’ve met with over the past couple of months (they are many) and it goes along the lines of “Are you finding a skills gap in the post university, couple of years’ experience under their belt, mid-twenties (ish), talent market?” and “Is it industry specific or across the board?”. The answers…yes and across the board.

I found this somewhat relieving in the one sense. As whilst I’m recruiting in the media industry the breadth and depth of roles is vast from sales & marketing to creative, IT, editorial, accounting, events, call centre, production and machine operators to name a few. So it was nice to know it wasn’t just us. I’d kind of already worked this out given for most of the role we advertise we’re (thankfully!) inundated with quality candidates and haven’t had much trouble finding talent to fill the roles.

However, when it’s come to those roles that are not entry level, need qualifications and a certain level of skill set, the next step or two up the ladder from graduate, it feels like a ghost town with tumbleweed blowing through. Now this is something of an exaggeration and I realise that – we’ve hired some awesome people in this bracket, but they’re hard to find, tough to convince, know their worth and where they’re going – and rightly so. I’m not sure what we should be calling them so forgive the broader term millennial in the heading!

I’m blaming it on the all-important OE. Something of a Kiwi tradition and coming of age, not specific to New Zealanders, but an ongoing phenomenon of our society none the less. I’m also blaming it on the OE not being the same as it used to, and the group we’re seeing in this stage of their lives now being somewhat more on to it than those who’ve gone before in terms of what they’re getting out of the OE. What was once a one to two year stint in London where you took whatever job you could get because let’s face it, the job was necessary to fund the ongoing partying in the likes of the Church and the Walkabout, house parties where 14+ Kiwi’s and Aussies were all dossing down together and jaunts around Europe whenever and wherever the funds allowed. And they were undoubtedly fun, character building and an opportunity to make friends for life and create memories you probably won’t tell your grandchildren about; but they weren’t about career. As a result when returning home to NZ these people were there to fill the gaps they created when they left in the market, and as everyone was doing it there was a continuous churn in and out.

This generation though are doing it different. They’re going over to do the partying, see the world, build character, relationships and memories; but they’ve also got career in mind. They’re arriving in London and the likes with jobs lined up in specific, strategic industries and organisations to ensure it’s a career building and development/growth exercise as well. And it’s working. Smart. These people are coming home far more experienced than when they left; they’re getting international exposure to markets much bigger and in some cases more advanced than ours (some cases not!) and on return they are no longer at the level they were when they left. In most instances they’re considerably further ahead than that in terms of skill set, experience and salary level. And here’s where the gap in the market becomes evident.

I don’t know what the solution to this is. I commend this group on their foresight and career planning. Not just career planning, they’re life planning too – coming home able to buy houses in the Auckland market which is something out of reach now for so many, but that’s another story.

I wonder what effect Brexit will have on this phenomenon, if any? A couple of people I’ve spoken with have ventured that it may strengthen the somewhat dormant Commonwealth and see a resurgence there. Others have suggested with travel getting harder for those on British passports the OE’s won’t last as long. I wonder whether we should be doing more to grow and develop these people within NZ and our organisations? Will we revert to careers here with overseas travel as holidays as opposed to the extended terms of one and two years? As I say I don’t have the answers, but I’m looking for them, so I would love to hear your thoughts, comments, experiences…..and potential solutions!

Tales of Inspiration

inspiration

[in-spuhrey-shuh n]

noun

  1. an inspiring or animating action or influence
  2. something inspired, as an idea
  3. a result of inspired activity
  4. a thing or person that inspires

Inspiration comes in many shapes and forms, from a variety of sources, often striking when you least expect it. You may or may not have sought it, but either way it found you and propelled you to take action or consider thought. It may have been as simple as the encouragement needed to make small changes in an aspect of your life or as major as a monumental shift in direction.

I believe we have all experienced pivotal moments in time where inspiration has struck to such a degree as to have had an effect on the future shape of our lives. Be it an individual, a community or a piece of writing. In writing this piece I realised there were countless forms of inspiration in my life, and far too many to discuss here, so following are two stories encompassing various forms of inspiration, each one vastly different from the other, but each with considerable impact around people, community and the world of work.

The first is one of inspiration through help, dedication and giving back – and I admit there are literally hundreds of similar stories, all with equal merit. I know an incredible individual who gives up countless hours of her time to help others, so much so that if I were to list the areas in which she freely gives her time, resources and beautiful smile to enriching and enlivening the lives of others I’d surely miss something out. But to give you an idea, this is one millennial thoroughly practising mindfulness through the likes of soup kitchens, gardening, caring for the elderly and volunteering in orphanages, all outside of her 9am – 5pm role. And this week I encountered Tinaya Johnston via this NZ Herald article – proving one incredibly inspiring woman has the ability to impact and change so many lives on a daily basis through one simple idea and her time. Both of these people have inspired work and community – one through motivating the people in her workplace to do more in their local communities as a result of her efforts and the other giving back to her community and in turn moving others to behave in a similar way.

The second is more professional in its inspirational nature. Beginning with an Executive Leader who spotted potential in an employee and enabled a situation whereby it was possible to take action. Followed through with the employee who accepted the challenge, stepped up and continued the professional development through mentoring and accredited education.  This individual has turned their life around in a phenomenal way and whilst that mentoring relationship and formal education is long past, they have continued to mentor with others, complete further education and seek alternative forms of development through the inspirational relationships and people they have met along the way and accepting personal responsibility for their own future path. This person has unwittingly become an inspiration in their own right; having faced numerous hurdles and adversity along the way and still coming up trumps and is now so recognised for their expertise in their field they too are being asked to speak, mentor, train and develop others.

This is a somewhat philosophical post, a reflection in many ways and a nod to all those who have inspired me. However it’s also very forward looking as I know there will be many more stories of inspiration to come; with the world both personal and professional becoming a much smaller space through the development of technology ensuring we have the opportunity to be inspired every day in thousands of ways from thousands of directions and sources. And so I ask you this, what inspires you, where will it lead and how will you use it? And secondly – do your inspirational sources know the affect they have on you? If not – maybe it’s time to give back, feedback and recognise?

Career Mapping For HR – #NZLEAD Twitter Chat Recap

Check out the link above to my Storify recap of the twitter chat. Thanks very much to everyone who participated last week – most appreciated. 
If you would like to add to the chat or see more, please comment below or on the #NZLead Google+ or LinkedIn feeds. The more feedback we get the better!
This week I’ve been working on what this looks like as a tool to use going forward for #NZLead and this will be revealed asap!

Diversity & Inclusion

One of my favourite things to do in life is to watch my four year old daughter interacting with others her age when she doesn’t know I’m watching. Whether it be at preschool, playing in our street, the local park or out at the mall, the place and the people make no difference to her, everyone is included. She doesn’t differentiate the way the she relates to and interacts with people be they young, old, male, female, blonde, brunette – you get where I’m going with this. And it’s got me thinking lately about diversity and inclusion.

As I’ve said children don’t discriminate; so when is it we begin to be programmed to view people as different than ourselves, or to start to classify them under specific banners and headings? And what elicits this change? Does it get worse as we progress through life? Are there factors that contribute more or less to this phenomenon? And once learned can biases or ways of classifying people be unlearned? And would this be beneficial to society? Is diversity something that should be actively pursued in a workplace or is it something that should naturally occur out of an inclusive society? And does such thing exist?

That’s a lot of questions arising from the simple pleasure of watching a child forge their own relationships in the world, I know. But I can’t help wondering what I as a parent can do to halt or reverse what seems an almost inevitable decent into various biases? And in turn what could be done in organisations to do the same. I realise there’s been a lot written about and researched in terms of this subject in the workplace, and there is some incredible change starting to take place, but it’s a large slow old ship in general that will take a long time to complete a 180° turn.

New Zealand’s an incredibly diverse society to grow up in now, and I think our younger generation will be leaps and bounds ahead of generations before in terms of diversity due to the nature of that. A 2012 study, by the New Zealand Herald (published here: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10837572) is a testament to this and there are some really eye opening highlights from the 2013 census available (http://www.stats.govt.nz/Census/2013-census/profile-and-summary-reports/quickstats-about-national-highlights/cultural-diversity.aspx).

My daughter start school next year, at arguably one of the country’s most culturally diverse primary schools with 76 different ethnicities identified among approximately 500 pupils according to Board of Trustees members and the 2012 E.R.O. report (http://www.ero.govt.nz/Early-Childhood-School-Reports/School-Reports/Freemans-Bay-School-07-03-2012). At the tender age of four she is already well aware of cultural differences, but not biases. She knows Mummy is European, she herself identifies as Maori; she speaks both English and Te Reo fluently and easily adapts to and picks up on other languages – a week’s holiday in Noumea saw her come home speaking mainly French! When she starts school she will be entering a bilingual classroom, where despite her identifying as Maori, in terms of looks she will be vastly different from the majority of students. But this won’t matter; to her or the other students in her class and the rest of the school.  Within minutes of her first school visit she had disappeared with other students to explore, and I have no doubt this is how she will continue her schooling – by easily identifying with people from all walks of life and not treating them differently because of what they identify with or as, and despite any labels society may choose to impose on them.

I think we can learn a lot from pre and primary school children and the way they view the world. If we all held on to the inclusive and non-discriminatory views such as theirs we would all enjoy a society free of biases, without the need to create diverse workplaces as they would be a natural result of society. I haven’t got the answers to all my questions, but as a parent I’m going to do all I can to ensure my daughter doesn’t lose her naturally inclusive ways, and to encourage her to develop even more inclusive ways and practices with the hope that she in turn will encourage that in those around her.

I think current generations have made an excellent start; being aware of the need for diversity and inclusion is a huge step in the right direction. I hope this will simply become second nature for future generations and I can see this becoming a reality. The reasoning is two-fold; we are aware now, organisations and individuals the world over are actively working towards this and the world is a vast place but becoming smaller every day. The world of work is changing; borderlines are blurring and being removed, people are travelling and relocating for work the world over, and as a result societies are changing, diversifying…and hopefully becoming more inclusive. I say I always advocate modelling the behaviour of children, but in this instance, I’ve no doubt they’ve got it right.