On Monday, we launched Student Voice, a three-month initiative giving students a platform to share their job search frustrations, stories, and lessons for employers. Over the next three months, we intend to collect and publish hundreds of entries and share them as widely as possible with decision makers across the country. We want to give students a voice in the world of campus recruitment to change the way that employers and students interact for the better.
We asked students to share their stories by answering three questions. One is: “Based on your experiences, what’s one lesson you’d like to share with employers?” If there’s one response that we’ve overwhelmingly heard over the past week, it’s that new grads want more feedback from employers. They apply, don’t get the job, and are left scratching their heads wondering why.
A lot of people believe that it has to do with what I’m calling the Gen Y factor. Some say this generation has grown up with constant feedback from Mom and Dad, instant results from the Internet and video games, grades from professors and teachers, so therefore they also expect feedback from employers. I’m not discounting this factor as being partially responsible, but I think it’s something much simpler.
Feedback makes you better. Plain and simple. How are you supposed to improve if you don’t know what you’re doing wrong in the first place? If students want feedback, it’s only because they try hard and they are eager to do their best. They want to succeed. I don’t know about you, but this is a quality I’d value greatly in a job candidate.
One of the Student Voice contributors stated it perfectly: “We are the leaders of tomorrow. If the current leaders don’t provide us with feedback, how can we prepare to take over in the future?” Great point.
There’s a problem though. Some employers, will respond with something like this: “We can’t spend the time (or money) giving feedback to every candidate, especially the ones that we’re not going to hire.” That’s a fair point. After all, they are running a business.
To sum it up: students and new grads are unsure of what steps to take to become a successful candidate, and some employers are unwilling or simply unable to provide them with the feedback they need to succeed.
Simply put, I don’t know. Not yet at least. And that is why we created Student Voice. By sharing student’s stories and experiences we’re hoping we can generate solutions and ideas for employers, as well as help students learn from their peers’ experiences.
We need to teach students practical skills like how to write a proper resumé, how to handle an interview, and which paths of study will lead to which careers. I personally do not remember being taught these skills. I remember filling out a questionnaire that told me what I should be when I grow up; I believe I’m supposed to be a chicken farmer or a lawyer. Thanks for that.
As you know, entry level candidates do not necessarily posses the hard skills that you’re looking for. But the ones who are following up, and asking for feedback, definitely have soft skills like determination, hard work, desire to succeed and improve, etc. These skills demonstrate that this person is serious about becoming your next superstar. Consider this the next time you are hiring new grads for entry level positions.
Youth underemployment is a big problem in Canada, and we can’t fight it alone. As I mentioned above, I don’t know the answer to this problem. But I do know, that the more voices that are heard, the greater the chance we have of succeeding.
Students: Share your stories and tell your friends to do the same. Every contribution makes a difference!
Employers: Read these stories and learn from them. Listen to these talented, bright minds, struggling to find meaningful employment. This is research right from the demographic that you’re struggling to reach.