The headmaster at Gresham's school, Douglas Robb, has made national news with this recent blog post. On the surface it appears to carry a familiar millennial-bashing tone, but I think he makes some astute points, relevant to both hiring firms and potential candidates.
Yes, there is danger in generalising about an entire generation, but necessary to an extent if we are to analyse trends. And his experience is built at the proverbial coal face of tomorrow’s talent.
He states "As well as a clutch of impressive grades or a degree from university, young people need to show they are capable of adding value to an employer’s organisation through hard work, commitment, passion and determination.”
Those four characteristics underpin the very essence of values-based recruitment. Whilst the oft-reposted article “10 things that require zero talent” asserts that hard work, commitment, passion and determination require zero talent, whether you agree with that or not, they all require both resilience and perseverance. Or “grit” if you will.
Developing these core characteristics may well take some early-career experience in the “jobs that people look down their noses at”, as Robb puts it. When I wasn’t in lectures at university, I worked at packing factories, assembled air conditioning, worked in fast food, even casting manhole covers in a foundry. I wouldn’t rate them as the most enjoyable jobs I’ve had, but I worked as hard as I could, driven by the motivation of a good temp-worker reputation. Grit was acquired in spades, and I believe the work ethic I developed was partly responsible for success in my later career.
There is one element of Robb’s article I disagree with; his experience in recruiting a new team member. He takes issue with the candidate question “Why should I work for you?”. His reaction smacks of complacency.
Firms need to understand that prestigiousness is not enough for today’s candidate, regardless of which generational stereotype you want to put them in. Careers are a two-way relationship that go beyond social status or financial reward. Businesses that rely on this may well see their attrition rates rise (although speaking as a recruiter this might not be a bad thing!).
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