I got my first real job through the President’s Young Professional Program and I thought I was on top of the world.
Before joining the program, my chances of getting a job was somewhere between zero and negative 100. Fresh out of college with no real professional experience, I still felt unstoppable. Why? Because someone gave me a chance. Someone looked at me and saw great potential.
“Give a man fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and he feeds himself for a lifetime”.
In my first job, I was given a lot of responsibilities. I met very important people on a daily basis, and I had a lot of freedom to be creative. This in turn sparked tremendous professional growth.
One day, a year into my “professional life”, a boss asked me to make him coffee. It was a simple request and looking back now, I can see it was a very reasonable one too. But I felt so offended. I felt like I was being degraded and humiliated. Why would he ask me to do that, it’s not in my job description.
It was very exciting every time bosses took note of my efforts and taught me how to get my job done more efficiently. I loved all of the meetings and events I attended as a result of their influence. But despite all of these, I wasn’t willing to perform any task that I deemed “menial” or outside of my “job description”.
Life is an echo;
What you send out you get back;
What you sow, you reap;
What you give, you get;
What you see in others, exists in you.
You see, Sometimes we spend a lot of time and effort trying to find a job or trying to get people to give us “things”, but we tend to neglect developing the right skills and attitude that’ll help us grow and maintain our jobs or the things we are given.
Recently, I spoke at a youth conference on the “importance of creating a career vision and building a personal and professional brand”. I was so excited and overwhelmed by the participants interest and participation in the conversation. I’m very passionate about youth development through entrepreneurship and career planning because I believe that this is how we reduce high youth unemployment, and build a skilled and innovative workforce.
At the end of the conference, 78% of participants responded on the feedback that they would attend and also recommend similar or more advance career development training to their peers, while 62% said they are even willing to pay for career planning assistance.
This show’s that to an extent, a significant number of young people are ready and willing to work and be groomed. This shows that the common adage that “Liberians want jobs but they don’t want the work” does not apply to everyone.
It is time for those with more experience to begin creating the right environment and opportunities for young people to learn and develop the skills they need to succeed. Young people don’t just need jobs, they need senior level managers and leaders to believe in them enough to create opportunities that removes barriers and promotes the culture of practice. They need leaders to include them in decision making because only they know and understand the challenges they face.
Tell me and I forget, Teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn.
Having an education without having the opportunity to experiment, will only lead to restlessness and more vulnerability. Job makers need to look beyond what’s written on the resume and identify character, drive, and life experiences that makes the applicant unique.
On the other side to this, is the fact that job seekers (Youths in particular) need to pay attention to and develop the skills that job makers are looking for. They need to cultivate a positive attitude as well as the willingness to learn and be groomed.
Job seekers need to be able to clearly express themselves, their ideas and beliefs. They need to prove that once hired, they will add value to the company through their hard work, professional beliefs and unique life experiences.
At the end of the day, teaching a man to fish is just as important as the man learning to fish.
The more reflective you are, the more effective you are.
~Hall and Simeral
Job seekers, young professionals and youths must begin asking themselves the same question everybody is asking them:”What do I have?”
Yes, what do you have? What can you do? What value will you bring?
Employers are looking to invest in employees who add value to their organization. It’s a give and take kind of situation. Just as you expect to be treated well by your employer, so must you be willing to give of yourself and add value to the organization.
It is important to develop the right skills and attitude that’ll make you a valuable employee. If you don’t know what those are, you can start by evaluating yourself along these lines:
Job readiness assessment
- Job specific skills– am I qualified(education , experience or skill wise) for the job I want?
- Self motivation– can I motivate myself and work independently?
- Self confidence– do I believe in myself and my abilities?
- Flexibility– am I willing to make compromises in order to get the job done?
- Communication– am I able to clearly communicate my thoughts, ideas and opinions in a professional manner?
- Negotiation – can I negotiate effectively to get the results I want?
- Teamwork– am I a willing to put my personal interests aside for the sake of my team?
- Respect– do I respect myself and my colleagues?
- Active listening– do I listen to understand or to respond?
It’s important to assess yourself honestly to identify your strengths and weaknesses. This way you can work on enhancing your strengths to be a better employee and team member while at the same time managing your weaknesses.