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Being young on both sides

A brief overview on being a young candidate and a young employer…. hiring young candidates. More and more young people are becoming employers. Should we learn from our experience as candidates and try to create better opportunities to young job seekers?

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I have been on both sides of the line: as a young job-seaker interviewing and as a young employer hiring young candidates…well it seems I have been on both sides plus one.
As a candidate the truth is I have never felt short on guidance and orientation. I was able to attend a top university (CLSBE) that provide me with all possible tools from career coaching, mentorship, interview training and most important a solid education that enabled me to create a career objective, search and develop the tools and the context to thrive and achieve my goals. That for me was the most important thing I have learn about Jobs interviews and consequently jobs itself: it’s all about drive and motivation. From all the interviews attended and considering I dedicated them the same amount of study and preparation, the ones I preformed the best were the ones where I felt the fit was higher and where I was more motivated. We need to want it. If you do, you’ll find a way to develop the tools, to thrive more intuitively and to create good alternatives in case of failure.
As an employer for young candidates I was able to verify what I had learn as a candidate. Drive and motivation will define your job interview and consequently your job and your career performance. As general manager in my own company I always wanted to play an active role in building up the team. On our first job ad we got more than 500 applications for a bartender position, so we were able to understand what was happening on a different part of the spectrum - people without higher education and therefore more exposed to unemployment. 60% were under 25. We made sure to personally interview more than 70 people, the ones who passed our first CV screening - interestingly we tended to choose younger people (about 95%). I must confess I was disappointed. From all the interviewed candidates, we only had 5 reasonably motivated personalities. We had 70 potentially great candidates, with diverse background and solid experience despite of their young age, but the drive wasn’t there. That was something I wasn’t expecting. Looking at the current situation with unemployment rate near 14%, and offering a 35% higher remuneration than the average, we believed we would have a different scenario. From all the people interviewed we were able to choose only 2 candidates:
Candidate 1: 35 years older than the average, with solid experience. Looking back, we were quite inexperienced in hiring and manage people. I believe we partially rested our insecurities on the candidate’s experience and know-how. On that particular case we took a bad decision. The candidate’s expectations soon turned out to be maladjusted with the job he was hired to, and it naturally came to an end.
Candidate 2:  22 years old. He was reasonable motivated, not extremely motivated. He started to underperform, failing schedules and important work obligations and again naturally it came to an end.
We end up facing this type of profile (candidate 2) several times until we tried to change both the source of sourcing and the main question to the candidate. Currently we are hiring based on references from friends and business partners with special focus on one question: “how motivated are you?”. Fit to the job is crucial to balance expectations and avoid frustration but we realised that motivated people are more willing to learn, and therefore are better to create and refine fitness over time.
As a young employer was definitely where I struggle the most. With the current entrepreneurship mind-set, more and more young people under 25 are now creating their own opportunity. The opportunity they couldn’t find elsewhere. Those folks are becoming employers…. young employers. And they don’t have a clue of what that is…at least me and my entrepreneur friends didn’t. Manage people’s expectations, understating where talent is and how can you promote it, how you can create a culture that enables people to preform, that allows them to fail and learn is something that requires experience, know-how and expertise. Young people are creating job opportunities, are adding value, and nobody is really teaching them how can they create the jobs they didn’t have.

This experience led me to an important question: are we, young people, motivated enough for a more and more competitive global job market?
And if we aren’t:
1 - why?
2 - how can we build up motivation in order to be better and more competitive professionals in the future?

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