The first real job I ever had involved standing in the middle of Grafton Street in Dublin city centre, attempting to sell lottery scratch cards to unsuspecting passers-by. The full extent of the role for me involved learning off a few lines of script, practicing that script just enough to spin off a semi-convincing pitch, and approaching people again and again in an almost never-ending loop of crushing rejection.
I was shot down about 150 times a day, getting cold shoulders, filthy looks and, at worst, even foul mouthed tirades…
In hindsight, this was not the job for me. Although there were some aspects that I enjoyed, I was definitely not what you would describe as ‘engaged’. Why did I do it for two whole summers? No, not because I regarded it as character-building or skin thickening for later life encounters. It was because I was stuck for ideas at the age of 16, and a friend had pulled me into it. Unlike the good Samaritans out on the Dublin City streets, working hard for causes they believe in, I was there because of lack of consideration, with an even greater lack of interest.
People can sometimes fall into jobs that aren’t necessarily the right fit and, even though the necessary skill set might be there, a number of other factors need to be considered. Things like personality, motivation and interests have to be taken into account when weighing up a new candidate or position. In my case, it must be said that I possessed neither the right kind of temperament, nor the commitment, to excel in lottery scratch card selling.
There’s a lot to be said for carefully handpicking staff to create a strong workforce, but this can be a tricky task if a company isn’t attracting well suited applicants to begin with. Like a flower that takes on a certain colour to attract the right kind of bees, the way an employer talks about itself is critical to captivating the best suited people.
Whereas in the past it might have been enough to offer a competitive salary to garner interest, our Employer Brand work with clients has shown that modern job-seekers are looking for much, much more from their job. Factors like company vision and purpose, work- life balance, diversity, health & well-being initiatives, learning and development, and environmental sustainability are just a few of the prerequisites for prospective employees now. From websites, social media and brochures, to presentations and events, there are an increasing number of touch points where companies are engaging with prospective candidates - but what is being communicated to them?
Do they see and hear a company with a set of core values, or an exciting vision to work toward? Is there a culture of inclusivity, diversity and support, or a focus on innovative thinking? Are there structures in place to facilitate growth and learning, either professionally or personally?
How does a company truly differentiate itself from competitors that are not only competing for the same recruits, but working hard to attract your current employees to their side of the fence?
With third-level exams complete, and a flood of soon to be graduates dispatching freshly-developed CVs to would-be employers, companies need to start considering whether their employer brand narrative is focused, targeted and compelling, or whether they’re happy to leave their recruitment and retention needs to a lottery.