We published a survey in late 2017, asking job hunters, and employers, about their experiences with interviews and career advice they wish they’d gotten earlier on in their careers.
Today’s topic is ‘What skills do you see lacking in today’s new recruits?’ – but first, here’s a roundup of the previous blog posts:
The Worst Interview Experience I’ve Ever Had
The Best Career Advice I Never Took (But Should Have)
Advice I’d Give to New Graduates Looking For Jobs
The Worst Interview Advice I’ve Ever Received
Here are the results from the question we’re looking at today from our survey: What skills do you see lacking in today’s new recruits?
“Drive and determination – most new recruits expect a lot to be given to them rather than worked for.”
There are some factors you can’t control or change. But what is in your control, is demonstrating drive and enthusiasm for your job. If you’re unhappy with your role, then change it. But don’t make your own life, and that of your employer, miserable by turning up every day without any enthusiasm.
Whatever role you’re in, for the time you’re in it, look for ways to expand your skills. Perhaps you want to get into a Field Account Director role but you’re currently working in Telemarketing. Look at how you can expand your current role to gain more experience; by shadowing other Account Directors, or taking on further responsibilities within your customer accounts. If you can move to a new role, then do it. But if something is holding you back, such as a lack of qualifications or experience, then use the time in your current role to work on impressing your employers and gaining that extra experience.
“Seeing work as a ‘job’ rather than a ‘career’.”
When you view your work as ‘just a job’, your perspective changes. Your idea of achievement is based on short-term goals, usually money related. Your focus is on achieving this month’s revenue goals only, rather than thinking about how you can develop and progress.
When you think in terms of a career, your focus shifts to how you can improve yourself, and your job, to reach your own personal goals. This could mean moving to a position with more responsibility or working in a specific department or industry that you love. It also means you look at your current role as a stepping stone to bigger and better things, so you invest time in achieving in different ways; by gaining more experience in a wider range of areas, making contacts in different parts of your company, and by filling in any qualification gaps before your next job move.
Looking at what you do as a career rather than a job doesn’t just serve your employer, it serves you and makes you think about your own personal long-term aspirations.
“In sales specifically, we’re seeing a lack of drive, fearful of cold calling on the phone and poor basic command of written English language skills, i.e. when writing business emails or customer proposals.”
Selling is one area where drive is key – after all, what’s going to make you get back on the phone after a customer rejection?
As for cold calling, some degree of speaking with customers on the phone is required in any sales role, but there is evidence to suggest that millennials don’t like making, or taking, calls as much as their older colleagues. Research from the Guardian suggests that over 75% of UK adults own a smartphone, but a quarter of them never use their phone for making calls. Could our increasing reliance on email and messaging have made cold calling even harder for younger recruits?
Another point raised in this answer is the question of good language skills; across spelling and grammar. You don’t need to be the world’s expert when it comes to deciding if your use of Oxford commas throughout your customer proposal document is appropriate, but everyone working in sales should have a good level of written and spoken English in order to communicate effectively with customers. Making spelling mistakes in customer emails, or not using capital letters throughout an entire email (trust me, I’ve seen it), is a sign that you’ve not taken the time or care when communicating with your customer.
And sales is, after all, about communicating well with your customers.
Interesting point, as some of our other interviewees said that the problem was that newer recruits had too much self-belief and not enough determination.
Or perhaps, a lack of self-belief is making people less confident in their role, and consequently less enthusiastic about completing their work and setting themselves challenges?
“Less knowledge of products & no sense of account management.”
Sales is a complex job that often doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Not only do you need to get yourself skilled up on the products or services that your company is selling, you also need to learn skills in order to complete your job; around account management, cold calling, prospecting and client engagement.
What is your onboarding and training process for new sales recruits? Is it structured, or left to existing sales management to come up with their own individual sales training initiatives? Statistics tell us that organisations with a standardised onboarding process enjoy 50% greater new hire productivity, so the upfront investment is worth the increased productivity further down the line (Source).
“We see a lack of toughness in new recruits to deal with the rough patches, coupled with a lack of determination to push themselves & try new things. New recruits should watch and learn from the best, use their initiative & ask questions.”
We agree with this, especially in sales, but we also think that employers have a role to play in creating an environment and learning program that can support new recruits. For example, do new sales graduates feel supported with mentors and advisers to get through rough sales patches? Are they trained to understand that there are natural sales cycles and how to protect their performance against delayed deals?
Sometimes we see candidates apply who might have the qualifications and academic record, but who lack the real-world experience of working. But these candidates need a chance to develop this understanding, so employers and candidates need to meet in the middle. The employer needs to bring training and support to the table, and the candidate needs to bring enthusiasm and a willingness to learn.
Do these comments match what you’re seeing in the industry when taking on new recruits? What would you add to these comments?
Find out more about YourPrime Recruitment and how we are helping clients to find the right candidates, and helping candidates to find their perfect employer: https://yourprimerecruitment.com/