Are you made for the job?


Attitude and energy are among the qualities that employers look for in potential employees. An employer can always train someone to do the job if that person’s attitude is right and he exudes energy for doing the job.  

Usually, when I ask job seekers what they look for in employment, their answers are standard – high salaries, comfortable working environments, good working hours. Yeah, right.  

Why aren’t today’s young people using their energy to learn skills – including language and communication skills – that make a difference at interviews? Where is their self-confidence? Where is the dignity from having earned a reputable degree? Where is the energy level that is required to convince the boss that they are the right people for the job?  

Here are some basic issues that young people should be thinking about while they are at college or university and before they enter the work force and perhaps even.  

  • Physical appearance. Very few universities insist on a dress code so many students go through university life wearing faded jeans and scruffy T-shirts. They do not know the basics of visual presentation in the corporate world. “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression” is not a joke! I know of a senior manager who was sent home by the chairman because he was too casually dressed for dinner to meet an important client at his (the chairman’s) home. In business etiquette, successful people will tell you that you do not dress for the position you hold but the position you want to hold. Dress code “casual” does not mean jeans and T-shirt when the function is held in your chairman’s house; tailored trousers and a long/short-sleeved shirt would be the appropriate attire, at least. 

  • Personal grooming. It is important to be well groomed so that people know that you have taken trouble with the way you come to work. It is about respecting your colleagues. Being well groomed takes effort. Simple things like applying appropriate make-up (for the women), trimming your moustache/beard (for the men), and eliminating body odour do matter.  

  • Deportment (how you carry yourself). The way you walk and the non-verbal signals you send out give either a positive or a negative impression. We are able to tell that a person is quiet and shy simply from the way he sits, stands or walks. This is not rocket science. When meeting someone for the first time, sometimes you can pick up cues from the body language. Then there is the person with great aura, whose energy is inspiring. You can spot that person’s charisma, confidence and self-esteem. These are the leaders and they are visible a mile away. Every organisation wants them.  

  • Communication skills. Learn to speak well and make a good impression at interviews. Being by attending language classes. Read newspapers, watch the news on television, listen to the radio in the language you want to learn. Then use that language; learn to speak it with other people. Overcome your shyness. We live in exciting times; so many things are happening around the world. Be informed about things that matter. Make friends, network with people who can open doors for you. Companies are always looking for people with good writing skills. Unfortunately some people do not see the need to improve such skills and are unaware that it is their lack that keeps them from progressing upward on the corporate ladder.  

  • Be prepared for challenges. If the job market is tight and you are not getting anywhere, there is nothing wrong in trying something different. Look out for opportunities. Learn something new. Be hardworking and be willing to go beyond the call of duty. Team leaders are drawn to people with energy; once they find you, you will go places. Thirty years ago my spouse was transferred to Penang for the post of port health medical officer when he actually wanted to work in a hospital. The posting did not include patient care but involved inspecting ships and cargo that came to the port. It was not exactly his dream job but his boss wanted him to have a go at it. My spouse took up the challenge and did such a good job that he was later offered him a career in that field. Still, his passion was medicine and finally his boss transferred him back to the hospital.  

    Then there are those who have the advantage of possessing social, political and economic clout. Getting a job must be a breeze because companies create positions for them and, chances are, they have a choice. However, their status should not allow them special privileges and they must show their colleagues that they can and will work as hard as the others in the office. I have known privileged people throwing their weight around and getting promotions without just cause, and this is frustrating for executives who have worked long and hard only to be ignored. Recently I heard of a young executive who got promoted even before she was confirmed, simply because she had “connections”. 

    In the final analysis, the difference between an outstanding potential employee and one who is mediocre is energy. This energy creates determination that, in turn, creates passion in whatever we do.

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