I have a secret I’d like to share with you all: my little sister, Jordi Friese, graduated from Queen’s University this past April and is still looking for meaningful employment.
You can imagine why I’m not screaming this from the rooftops. I’ve spent the last two years of my life researching, developing and ultimately running a career website for students and recent graduates in Canada with the stated goal of helping students find meaningful work.
I’m a regular contributor to dialogues on what students and grads should/shouldn’t do in their preparation and search, and I claim to have some sort of “extra” understanding of this process. And why shouldn’t I? Each and every day, I’m not only reading and immersing myself in all things Gen Y employment, but I’m also regularly on the phone and in meetings with employers looking to attract, target and hire top young talent.
If this wasn’t enough, my sister also happens to be what I consider an “A player” with a clear goal of where she wants to go (non-profit sector).
She’s been actively involved in charity throughout her life, even starting her own non-profit in university. She spent a full year of university juggling her school work with a full-time job, managing a staff of over 40 at Queen’s campus pub. She has a long list of references who lavish praise on her for her hard work in everything from administrative work, to charity work, to academics, to various impressive extra curricular activities.
Just yesterday, Jordi received a letter from the Dean of Arts and Science at Queen’s congratulating her – her final grades were in the top 3% of all students.
What’s wrong here?
Canadian employers aren’t recruiting outside the lines
When I first started TalentEgg, I wrote an article called To hire the best talent, recruit outside the lines. The main goal of the article was to encourage employers in Canada to look beyond traditional qualities when assessing potential candidates.
I argued that employers who are able to identify signals of potential, rather than just looking at degree programs and grades, will be well rewarded with passionate people capable of steep learning curves in the workforce. In a service-based economy, there really is no substitute for the ability to learn and adapt quickly. I got this idea in the UK, where – when I graduated 2005 – employers recognized the most important trait you can have as a newcomer into the workforce is a proven aptitude for learning.