The conservative Labour Market
Yesterday I received a demand for help from someone who was looking for a first job. She had been trying since last summer to get a job. I asked her to send me her CV. I count on you, she said when she sent me her CV. Don’t count on me, count on yourself, I told her. This is the labour market, remember.
The experience inspired me to make a list of ideas on how to create and improve a CV. And as I was compiling the list, I realised that the list was conservative. It focussed on how to comply and get through the hurdles companies have between them and the labour market. This made me think. There are 4 reasons for this conservatism
Recruiters are junior
It’s a fact. Many of the people doing the recruitment have not much life experience. They hold on to the competency profile but are not willing or able to take a broader perspective. They are not able or allowed to take a different perspective.
Hiring Managers are short-sighted
Hiring Managers focus on the short-term. They want people who are productive in the shortest possible time. They usually demand the perfect candidate and are not open to people who have a certain distance to the labour market.
There is too much focus on the Degree and the Job
Companies still focus too much on the job they have to offer. Instead we should focus on potential and employability. Instead of adapting the person to the job, we should build jobs around people. So every candidate should be assessed on the potential contribution he or she can bring to the organisation. In many jobs that is not related to a degree. But still, we focus on degree and on jobs.
We train to place
Too many companies do not wish to invest in development. Hiring people with the wrong experience or training is difficult. Most companies are still in the “train to place” instead of accepting the “place to train” approach. If you start from potential you will get further. Decathlon hires people with the right attitude and a passion for sports and takes it from there. the training comes after the placing.
Exclusive Labour Market
The result is that we still have an exclusive labour market. Minorities, handicapped people, people who do not fit the profile, … have a difficult time to find a first job. The paradox of the labour market is that you need to have experience to be offered a job. And that’s a vicious circle. Countries like Germany have a dual learning system that combines study and work. In many countries there are apprenticeship programs. But in many countries it’s insufficient.
Collect the dots
Play the game and collect the dots
So the most easy thing is to help people how to play the game of the labour market. That means that they need to learn how to conform, or use the rules to their own advantage. Personal branding, career engineering, cv design, … People of all ages and backgrounds should gain insight in how they can play the game. Today it’s only after career disruptions that people are thinking about their career and cv, maybe helped by an outplacement service. The challenge is to think about it all the time.
But they should not think of it in a superficial way. It’s not about having a CV with a great layout. It’s about having something to offer. Steve Jobs talked about connecting the dots. Well you need to have dots to connect them. The continuous gathering of experiences and competencies should never stop. Collect the dots and connect them. That’s the key for success in this conservative labour market. And that’s also the key to be employable and successful in the future.
Change the game and offer the dots
But I do not think that we should leave it there. The labour market should become more inclusive and open to people who do not fit the mould. It’s necessary that people can find their way, provided they are willing to make the effort. So organisations, supported by the government if needed, should offer the dots and change the game. Alternatively they should see the dots and embrace the potential of people whose dots are different.
An active involvement in the development of the labour market is needed from all stakeholders. If we can maximise the number of dots, we can maximise the chances. Organisations that think the exclusivity of the labour market is not their problem should think again. If it’s not their problem, whose is it? It is our problem.
Connecting the dots – present and future by Karl Van Hoey