We tried to hire a technician this quarter. With all the help of online sites, social media and advertising, you would think that it would be easy to find someone who had employability. However, our experience was not positive. Despite two online advertising campaigns and using multiple online employment websites, we weren’t able to fill the position before we moved into our new unit in Birmingham.
We have to say though, a lot of the applicants did not make it easy. So, if you’re looking to change job or role this year, make it your New Year’s resolution to follow the advice below. I know that it might not completely match the advice you get in job centres, but if you are genuinely interested in getting a new role you will save yourself a lot of time and bother. You also won’t alienate you from future possible roles by irritating employers.
I appreciate that this may not be the most politically correct position. Most advice online is written from the perspective of employees not employers. But speaking as one who really, really wanted to give someone a job, we felt that making people think about the employer’s perspective would help everyone be more successful in the long run.
We know, from having friends in the teaching profession, that we are not re-inventing the wheel here; this advice is similar to what schools are teaching all learners. We know this advice is out there. But thinking about things from the prospective employers point of view will hopefully only enrich the good work they are doing.
This is the only point we are going to make about hard skills, such as qualifications or results. We’re not talking about academic qualifications here. I think that employers nowadays know that just because you got a B in French at GCSE and not an A it doesn’t mean you are without the capacity to be a good worker. Good employers know which skills and qualifications are essential and which ones are preferable.
However, some skills are black and white, and if they are highlighted as crucial to the role, you need to ensure you qualify. These are known as hard skills.
Our advert insisted that a driving license was mandatory. A food technician needs to be able to deliver orders to our clients. You would not believe the number of people who applied who couldn’t drive! Equally, we insisted that applicants have a level 1 health and hygiene certificate, yet we received loads of applications from people who, not only had no health and hygiene certificate, but who also had no interest in getting a certificate themselves in order to make themselves a more suitable applicant.
The rest of our points are all about soft skills. These skills are harder to define on paper, but we recognisable when you see them. They are harder to learn and as such are more valuable.
During the first round of applications, we offered five people the opportunity to come to interview. Only one person bothered to respond to the message! Even if life takes you on a different course and you realise you no longer want the role, at least have the courtesy to let the company know! We had paid a lot of money to hire a room to conduct interviews in and sacrificed a lot of time, the least we expected was a message to say that they no longer intended to attend the interview.
By the day of the interview, despite us trying to telephone the prospective applicants, despite us leaving voice messages, text messages and messages via social media, only one had bothered to respond at all.
Similarly, after the second round of advertising, only one fellow got back to us saying he was going to come. He then failed to attend and gave no reason why.
Communication is the absolutely basic foundation of any relationship, be it personal or professional. If you cannot communicate in an effective way, you cannot succeed. All we needed was a quick message via social media or text. It takes a few seconds of your time, but can really make all the difference. Make sure you communicate with your potential employer.
Another soft skill, courtesy is showing another person respect as you treat them how you wished to be treated.
Of the five applicants, only one responded to our many messages saying that they were intending to attend the interview. On the day we waited for over two hours and no one came. We tried telephoning, no response. We never found out what happened to that applicant.
After our disappointment, we advertised for the role again. The same person applied for the role!
Trying to be gracious, we messaged to explain that we were willing to give them a second chance, but that they needed to explain their absence if they wanted to go through to interview. We had no response.
Remember that your potential employer is a person. It has cost them precious time, money and thought to agree to interview you. Be courteous. Be thoughtful. Communicate what is going on. Most people are not ogres and will accept that life can throw many curveballs meaning deadlines and meetings are missed. But, they do need to know that the curveballs have been thrown in order to be understanding!
Courage means doing something, even if it makes you feel nervous, frightened or intimidated. It means putting yourself forward and taking a small risk for the sake of a potential gain. A lot of people don’t progress in their career because they are frightened of failure or rejection. The feelings sometimes overwhelm us and become too large to surmount. I have certainly felt that in my life, so I have a lot of sympathy for people who don’t have a supportive network of family and friends around them to spur them on.
I have learned though, that sometimes those feelings are wrong and are hindering us and we need to brush them aside and force ourselves past them. No doubt some of the applicants we received were nervous or felt they couldn’t cope with an interview. It’s true that sometimes you risk things and fail, but occasionally the risk results in reward. If you never risk it, you will definitely never succeed.
Do you know what, though, if any of our prospective applicants had written a cover letter saying that although they didn’t have a hygiene certificate, they were willing to get qualified online in time for the interview, we would have been really impressed.
Likewise if someone had seen the interview and telephoned to say they were interested to come and have a look around our new unit, or indicated they had at least read our website and knew our product range, we would have snapped them up on the spot.
Show some initiative! Be courageous and try and express enthusiasm (even if you don’t feel it). Those soft personal people skills are essential to any role. Business is people, at all levels, and those who have the courage to try and connect on a human level have more chance of making something of themselves.
How to get on in life
We have realised that thoughtfulness towards the other person really is the key to success in any area of life. Putting yourself into another’s position and trying to understand things from their perspective works at every level. It works in family life, and in work.
From our perspective, we really try to make everything as user friendly, accessible and efficient as we can for our clients. Of course, we make mistakes, but we aim to reflect and improve whenever we do. Our clients are busy people, who want a service provided well. Our job is to try and anticipate their needs and meet their expectations; in short, our job is to be thoughtful.
We are hopeful we will find a technician who will share that vision with us. We are currently exploring other avenues to try and find the right person (or any person!). The soft skills we have highlighted today are taught in schools to young people, in job centres and through online courses. The help to succeed is out there. A bit of empathy goes a long way.