For those entering the workforce for the first time hitting the ground running is a common expectation today’s employers have of them. Yet fulfilling those expectations is somewhat daunting for a new recruit who often has a much different concept of what they are expected to achieve in their early days. It leads one to query if employers are expecting too much from first time employees, or has the maiden employee failed to clarify the responsibilities of the role throughout the recruitment phase?

Getting a job in today’s job market is no easy feat. Job applications are at an all-time high and consequently employers can be spoilt for choice. And with choice the prospects are heightened. Recently a client of mine was presented with four very high quality graduates looking to break into a market where supply outweighs demand. Each candidate presented extremely well and it was agreed that all were worthy of the role. In this particular scenario their respective university had prepared them well and two successful candidates are proving themselves in their early days in an organisation where there is no time for micromanaging employees. However a fairy tale ending is not always realised and it is often due to false perceptions.

Often companies do not understand what they are looking for in a candidate. This is more prevalent where a role has been newly created. New entry positions can come with a very long wish list; a degree from a reputable university; two years industry experience; bilingual expectations; and extracurricular activities that incorporate an abundance of volunteer work. Some employers are also asking candidates to be experts across multiple disciplines. Previously the accounting and IT responsibilities would be carried out by two employees, yet now we are seeing employers demanding a greater breadth of skills within the one role. Is this a realistic expectation? When the salary is reflective of an entry level rate, can you expect to find a 21 year old caped super hero that fits the bill? Unlikely.

And what about those roles where a former star employee has grown the role organically to suit the business’ needs? Employers expect to be able to replace their exceptional and valued employees with a candidate of equal calibre. They don’t take into account the learning and growth of their former employee and how this affected the now vacant role. No, they still envisage being able to find a candidate to walk straight into the role, without any training and little guidance, and produce results immediately. Sounds like a tough gig.

For a candidate to avoid placing themselves in this situation, they need to be interviewing their prospective employer as much as they are being interviewed by them. And this means asking questions. A lot of questions. Clarifying expectations during the hiring process can reduce miscommunication between entry level employees and their managers later on. For example, false perceptions of one’s abilities and misuse of their talents can lead to a poor hire and one very unhappy candidate who will unfortunately walk away with a negative first time experience of the working world.

To assist first time employees, organisations need to have well structured induction or work ready programs. Acquainting student recruits to the corporate environment will enable them to learn the organisation’s culture and expectations more quickly. For let’s face it, this is a data driven world and no one can fly under the radar with performance and output more accurately measured than ever before.

It is clear that an organisation pitching an entry level job role must have a realistic expectation of the responsibilities of the position and the competencies that exist within the lower end of the job market. Demanding too much by setting the bar too high will result in overlooking excellent candidates that given time, will flourish into valuable employees. Candidates likewise need to establish clear expectations of the position’s responsibilities and performance outcomes. The Employer who does understand that investing in potential is as important as investing in a skill will also understand that a candidate needs to be given time and room to grow within a role. A false sense of realism will not benefit the business nor the candidate.And that is simply a wasted recruitment exercise.

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