Demonstrating Readiness for Career
By Jon DaSliva
The National Association of Colleges and Employers has defined career readiness as “the attainment and demonstration of requisite competencies that broadly prepare students for a successful transition into the workplace.” Defining those competencies for students and integrating them into the K-12 curriculum is essential for their success.
As of March 23, 2017, the Massachusetts unemployment rate sits at 3.4 percent according to a press release issued by the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. Low unemployment rates create opportunities for students that have the competencies employers are looking for in a tight labor market. With fewer people looking for work, employers are willing to offer qualified candidates competitive wages and benefits.
Rather than attempting to fill a single job for a predetermined amount of time, many employers are now seeking skilled individuals to place on career paths. In order to identify these development-focused applicants, many Human Resource leaders are trained to identify future potential and to determine prospective avenues to drive the retention of candidates over the course of 3-5 years. Although strategies vary from company to company, one key similarity holds true: employers take a competency-based approach when identifying future talent.
High performing companies understand that success hinges on the capabilities of their employees and are now looking for much more than a polished résumé and cover letter from applicants.
Upon graduation, students should recognize that the ability to convey competencies they possess can be the determining factor in the competitive job market. An exceedingly important competency for all employers is Critical Thinking & Problem Solving. Individuals who express this competency are continuously evaluating what is important to the customer or client and work to develop solutions that exceed expectations. Student must express their ability to think proactively as opposed to reactively, make timely well informed decisions and resolve problems as they arise.
Teamwork & Collaboration are another set of core competencies students should possess. Regardless of the industry, business leaders seek individuals who are going to integrate seamlessly with their existing team. Students can convey this competency by explaining situations in which they have had to understand and appreciate the perspectives of others who have a range of different life experiences, educations, and styles. Students can also explain a time in which they had to work collaboratively and effectively with other students toward the same goal understanding the roles, needs, and perspectives of each student.
Professionalism & Work Ethic in some cases, are regarded as the most significant competencies a potential employee can possess. An individual with good work ethic paints the picture of what an employer can expect from the individual on the job. A student can make a strong, positive impression through appropriate appearance and speaking with energy and self-confidence. By listening actively and respectfully during the interview process a student can easily convey a positive mindset to the interviewer. Speaking to attendance, achieving high marks, while working productively with others during the school year demonstrate a “can do” attitude and high personal standards for performance.
In this era of low unemployment, together with the need for skilled workers, employers are leveraging a competency based strategy to identify individuals that are a fit for their organization’s culture and values. The better a student can articulate the competencies he/she possesses that set them apart from every other candidate the more likely the student will influence that hiring decision.
Jon DaSilva is the Learning Center Manager at CVS Health and a member of the Future Ready Advisory Council.