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

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April 2018
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career choices

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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