I recently attended a luncheon where someone sitting beside me was talking about a young job seeker who came into his office and asked for a job. The manager described how a college graduate came in one day and asked for a few minutes of his time before starting into a ten minute presentation of how he could improve the operations of the manager’s department. Basically, the job candidate had created a three month plan of how to improve market visibility, increase sales, and develop the team further. Although a fair number of the suggestions had been tried before, he was impressed with the passion of the presenter, how much research had been done, and the quality of the presentation. The young presenter concluded his comments with how much he would like to come to work for the manager and his organization.
The manager made a joke about the bravado of youth before making a statement that most people at the table instantly agreed with: he wished his current staff would have the same level of interest in the department and its success. Obviously, there is an excitement that goes along with the first job hunt and the unbridled optimism of when you are young. Most of us start our career assuming that we can change the world. However, somewhere along the way, we grow weary and a bit disenchanted. We lose some of our excitement for what we do, those we work with, and the organization we work for on a daily basis.
What are some of the traits we can take from a young job seeker that would make us all better employees?
Have Passion – Employers want employees to be excited about their work. A passionate employee produces a high quality product, thinks of new ideas, and does not watch the clock. Plus, there is a bonus effect since excitement among employees is contagious to other employees as well as customers. If you are excited about the product you sell or service, I will be as well. As managers we play a key role in creating this excitement based on the level of engagement. The more engagement the workforce, the more excited people you have in your organization. As employees, the more we believe in what we do, the better we will be at our jobs.
Do Homework – The job seeker did his homework. Through research, he was able to make good suggestions about a place he had little inside knowledge. Unless an organization has a research centered culture, most employees feel that research is extra work and less necessary as you get to know the organization. However, homework is always beneficial when considering how to improve, why things work like they do, and alternative actions. Don’t be afraid to do your homework.
Show Initiative – It took considerable initiative for the job seeker to plan, collect, analyze, and provide the information with no promise of reward. Initiative is one of the most important characteristics of employees, but can be hard to train, complicated to sustain in a non-rewarding environment, and threatening to supervisors. However, it is critical characteristic of a successful organization since through initiative employees actually partner with supervisors to help improve the organization. It is important to take the tough jobs and show what you can do.