Capp’s five-step approach to strengths-based recruitment

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October 2019
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A-level results

The Year in Review on The Capp Blog

Posted by: Alex Linley

 

The Capp Blog launched this year with our first blog post on 17 January 2012. It has been a busy year since then, with 31,514 views of 164 items.

 

Here are five of the most viewed posts that showcase The Capp Blog at its best:

 

#1 – As part of our Performance Management series, Reena Jamnadas and Emma Trenier answered the question What Do Employees Want from Their Managers? As the most read blog of the year, clearly this was a question that you, our readers of The Capp Blog, wanted to answer as well.

 

#2 – Our feature on School Leavers Fortnight in August generated loads of interest, with Reena Jamnadas again leading the way with The Defining Power of Three Small Letters: Helping Students with their A-level Results.

 

#3 – Sharing our learning and development expertise through the lens of positive psychology, my blog On Learning to Learn: Four Positive Psychology Principles had readers re-imagining their own approaches to learning and development.

 

#4 – Throughout June, we ran Female Leaders Month on The Capp Blog, with Nicky Garcea leading the way with her blog Can Only Superwomen Make it to the Top?, originally published on the Financial Mail Women’s Forum.  

 

#5 – Completing our top five of 2012 was my blog on Student Strengths Insights and Strengths-based Graduate Recruitment. This reported the results of the Ernst & Young-Capp Student Strengths Survey, showcasing our work as the leading strengths-based graduate recruiter in the UK.

 

With these blogs – and many more – throughout 2012, we hope you will agree that it has been a great inaugural year for The Capp Blog.

 

We promise to bring you more insights, expertise and entertainment over the next year, but in the meantime, we wish every single reader of The Capp Blog a peaceful Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

 

Enjoy your festivities and we’ll be in touch again in 2013!

 

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The Defining Power of Three Small Letters: Helping Students with their A-level Results

Posted by: Reena Jamnadas, as part of School Leavers’ Fortnight

 

With A-level results released today, we won’t be surprised to hear, yet again, that double-edged sword of a question: Are exams getting easier or is the intelligence of our students increasing? The pressure for students, nonetheless, is fierce. Places at university, internships, and jobs are more competitive than ever before; choosing the right course or vocation could be career-defining, and the fees for university places are higher than ever before.

 

Capp’s experience of how successful students rise above the rest is by knowing their strengths. Whether you are a parent, guardian, or a careers adviser, there is a significant role that you can play in enabling young people to do this. 

 

Strengths are the things we do well and find energising. People management research shows that when we use our strengths, we experience higher levels of performance, productivity, engagement, self-esteem, resilience, happiness and vitality.

 

As a result, it’s no wonder that graduate recruiters in companies such as Ernst & Young and Barclays Investment Bank are using strengths-based recruitment to hire graduates who are high performers; graduates who have the natural strengths and motivation to deliver exceptional performance in their role.

 

In addition, as a result of graduates knowing their strengths through strengths awareness sessions led by Capp, Warwick Student Careers and Skills at the University of Warwick found a measured increase in self-awareness, self-confidence, career clarity, confidence in writing CVs and articulating their strengths to recruiters.

 

You can play your part in helping students go from average to A+ through helping them to make the right choices about their future career. The key is facilitating a conversation about the specific activities that they perform well and find energising, and then helping them to align these to their career search, through the steps I set out below:

 

Step 1 – Strengths Spotting through Tasks: Look for things that the person does well, enjoys doing, and picks up easily. What do they have natural motivation for? What do they learn quickly? What do they do when they have the choice? These are all things that can be signs of a strength.

 

Step 2 – Check the Data: Review the strengths that have emerged through the above questions and check this against a student’s past and current academic grades and feedback. If a student has described a passion for being detail-oriented, curious, and being great at conducting experiments, yet have consistently achieved lower grades in Science subjects, you may want to know why.

 

Step 3 – Caution against Learned Behaviours: Learned behaviours are defined as things that we do well but find draining to do. Over-using our learned behaviours has shown to lead to increased levels of stress, disengagement and burnout over time. Be aware of these when conversing with students: If a student’s grades are high in specific subjects, but the interest, energy and motivation isn’t there, search deeper for a student’s true areas of strength because that is where they will excel sustainably. If you don’t, they could burn out over time.

 

Step 4 – Align Tasks to Potential Courses / Careers: Once you have identified possible areas of strengths for a student, start to identify the specific activities that a student would naturally perform well in and find energising. What courses or vocations would provide the opportunity for your student to do these activities and therefore use their strengths?

 

Step 5 – Go for It: When you have helped the student to spot their strengths, distinguish them from their learned behaviours, and match these strengths to their course or career choice, then help them to demonstrate that they have what it takes to interviewers, assessors and recruiters. See the earlier blogs of School Leavers’ Fortnight for more help here.

 

As Aristotle once said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”. Enabling your students to understand the richness of their strengths is one of the greatest gifts that you could ever give to them.

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Don’t Despair: Why Your Planned Career Path isn’t the “Be All and End All”

Posted by: Alex Linley, as part of School Leavers’ Fortnight

 

With A-level results just around the corner, and Scottish Highers results released yesterday, there’s a big, pervasive myth that we need to dispel:

 

It isn’t the end of the world if you didn’t get the grades you need. In fact, it might just be the best thing that ever happened to you.

 

I didn’t make the grade when I applied to Oxford University while doing my A-levels. In fact, I didn’t even want to go to university at that point, but I reached an agreement with my dad (who hadn’t gone to university, and so was desperate for me to do so), that I would go for one year and see how I got on…

 

So, off I duly went to the University of Leeds to start a four-year Russian and Philosophy degree, with the first year being entirely Russian to bring us all up to A-level standard in that year. And guess what – after one year, just as agreed – I left (albeit with a 2:1 and a Fail in Phonetics), because I didn’t want to be there.

 

Many adventures later (having worked in Moscow, run my own business, and stacked books in a book warehouse), I decided that I was ready to go to university – and so Leicester it was, this time to read Psychology. Warwick followed Leicester as I did my PhD before going back to Leicester as a Lecturer, which even then was just the prelude to starting Capp.

 

Could I have predicted any of this at the tender age of 17 years when I was making my university choices and completing my A-levels? Not a chance! In fact, as I often say to my children when they ask about careers – “My job didn’t even exist when I was at school – I invented it.

 

The upshot of this is that I don’t believe that anyone should be constrained by the career path they might have in mind at 17, 18, 19 years – or indeed any age – because there is always so much that can and will happen, that we just can’t predict. As a result, I say to my children, “Do what you enjoy and what you’re good at, work hard (always work hard), and then see what opportunities you can create...”

 

And contrary to the received wisdom, this is actually how careers develop for many of us, as Herminia Ibarra shows in her excellent book.

 

So if you, your son or daughter, or a young person you are helping, find that things didn’t quite work out as planned with your A-level results, don’t despair!

 

It could well be that you are just taking the path that so many of us take, the one that is emergent (and I think exciting), rather than the one that is prescribed and carefully planned.

 

After all, this indirect path that makes the most of what we have, rather than lamenting what we don’t have, is so often the route to an even better future than we imagined.

 

Has this indirect career path been your experience through life? Share your learnings with others through using the Comment function on The Capp Blog below.

 

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Launching School Leavers’ Fortnight on The Capp Blog

Posted by: Alex Linley & Nicky Garcea, as part of School Leavers’ Fortnight

 

With Scottish Highers results published today, and A-level results looming for many in England and Wales on Thursday 16 August, we are launching “School Leavers’ Fortnight” for the the next two weeks on The Capp Blog.

 

Throughout this period, we will share with you a series of blogs that cover topics including how students can differentiate themselves on application forms and at interviews, insights from the mind of the interviewer, how young people can use their strengths to enhance their employability, and what advice you can give as a parent, teacher or careers adviser to young people making key decisions at this point in their lives.

 

We know from the myriad statistics and reports being published that a university degree might not always be the best option for everyone, and that more and more people are turning to apprenticeships or moving directly into the world of work. Supporting this trend, many large graduate employers are questioning whether graduate schemes are the right talent feeder pool for them, or whether they would do better to work at attracting and recruiting junior talent from further down the feeder pool – straight after A-levels, through apprenticeships, or via work placement schemes.

 

It has been assumed for a long time that universities were the natural sift for the talented to progress, but increasingly this view is being questioned. With rising university fees, ever higher levels of student debt, reduced degree class differentiation, and tightening graduate employment opportunities, both potential employees and graduate employers themselves are asking if there is a better way.

 

We are witnessing profound social change in the transition of young people to adulthood and the world of work. As with any major change, this creates risks but also huge opportunities. There is real cachet awaiting the organisations capable of reaching out to this emerging junior talent pool and finding the right ways to attract, select, recruit, develop and retain them through their early career years and beyond.

 

As we will explore throughout the blogs of School Leavers’ Fortnight, helping young people to recognise, develop and make the most of their strengths is critical in enabling them to be their best at work. Through helping young people to discover what they do best and love to do, we can help them discover the careers that will give them success and fulfilment for years to come.

 

We hope you enjoy the blogs of School Leavers’ Fortnight over the next two weeks. Share them with your colleagues, share them with other parents, share them with young people and school leavers themselves.

 

It’s time to start thinking afresh about what school leaver career paths can look like.

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