A grad­u­ate’s best friend in the job mar­ket

The Jewish Chronicle - - JC SPECIAL - BY AMBROZ NEIL

IN 2013, Of­sted re­ported that three quar­ters of UK schools lacked ad­e­quate ca­reer ser­vices.The sit­u­a­tion at many univer­si­ties is not much bet­ter. At one high-rank­ing univer­sity pop­u­lar with straight-A stu­dents, there are nine ded­i­cated ca­reer coun­sel­lors, sup­port­ing up to 5,000 grad­u­ates a year — 555 stu­dents per coun­sel­lor. Even if we in­clude all the in­for­ma­tion, em­ploy­a­bil­ity and skills staff, that makes 23 staff mem­bers sup­port­ing 217 stu­dents each. No won­der the 20-minute ap­point­ments are booked a week ahead and stu­dents are en­cour­aged to use online re­sources in­stead. The sit­u­a­tion is ex­ac­er­bated by the eco­nomic cli­mate, in­creas­ing com­pe­ti­tion for lim­ited grad­u­ate po­si­tions and a rapidly evolv­ing grad­u­ate re­cruit­ment process.

Most ca­reer ser­vices fo­cus on ca­reer coun­selling, in­tro­duc­ing ca­reer paths based on skills and abil­i­ties pre­sented to them by stu­dents. They of­fer es­sen­tial sup­port in the form of group ca­reer in­for­ma­tion, re­view­ing CVs and per­haps a mock in­ter­view. But what most stu­dents in tran­si­tion into the work­place re­quire is per­son­alised coach­ing, not gen­eral coun­selling. Whether one is pur­su­ing work post-grad­u­a­tion or chang­ing jobs, ca­reer coaches pro­vide the added el­e­ment of one-to-one men­tor­ship.

Ac­cord­ing to cer­ti­fied ca­reer coach Donna Swei­dan, the most com­mon mis­con­cep­tion among young peo­ple is that a well-done CV is all that is needed to con­duct an ef­fec­tive job search. The truth is far more com­pli­cated. What most grad­u­ates and young pro­fes­sion­als strug­gle with is defin­ing their goals and plan­ning steps to achieve them.

Ca­reer coach­ing and men­tor­ing firms such as ours have found that their job goes far be­yond edit­ing CVs and pro­vid­ing in­ter­view tips. The coach­ing of­ten be­gins by help­ing clients to recog­nise their ca­reer cap­i­tal, the value that po­ten­tial em­ploy­ers put on their ex­pe­ri­ences, com­pe­ten­cies and ap­ti­tude.

A con­sul­tant re­calls one grad­u­ate who had ex­pe­ri­enced skiing on four con­ti­nents and spent many sum­mers in Ar­gentina, herd­ing cat­tle on a ranch. De­spite this, when asked to de­scribe a time when he worked out­side his com­fort zone, he chose to cite his fi­nal-year group pro­ject. “He sim­ply didn’t know what he had,” says the con­sul­tant.

Us­ing one-to-one coach­ing and men­tor­ing, skills de­vel­op­ment and di­ag­nos­tic test­ing, coaches and clients cre­ate ac­tion plans that de­tail ex­actly where clients (grad­u­ates) want to be and how they plan to get there.

The re­sults are of­ten life-al­ter­ing, as re­cent grad­u­ate Os­car ex­plains. Be­ing dyslexic had held him back. “Peo­ple had low ex­pec­ta­tions of me and even­tua l l y I had l ow e x pecta - tions of my­self,” he says. The coach­ing and men­tor­ing he re­ceived helped him to build his con­fi­dence and de­velop his an­a­lyt­i­cal and rea­son­ing ap­ti­tude. That push re­sulted in his be­ing in­vited to at­tend the fi­nal se­lec­tion stage for Sand­hurst. Later, he was of­fered a con­sul­tancy role with a com­pany spe­cial­is­ing in in­no­va­tive med­i­cal de­vices and so­lu­tions in or­thopaedics, spinal care and neu­ro­science.

Ca­reer coaches will also help you work on valu­able soft skills such as ne­go­ti­a­tion, ac­tive lis­ten­ing and net­work­ing.The time and money spent work­ing with a ca­reer coach at the be­gin­ning of your ca­reer or dur­ing a tran­si­tion into a new ca­reer can save you years of frus­tra­tion re­sult­ing from a stag­nated pro­fes­sional life. Dr Ambroz Neil is man­ag­ing prin­ci­pal con­sul­tant at Alexan­der Part­ners, 0203 755 3712, ambroz@alexan­der­part­ners. org.uk, www.alexan­der­part­ners.org.uk

One-to-one men­tor­ship can help young peo­ple iden­tify their strengths

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