The end of the formative years leads to the beginning of the search for a job, a process that is not exempt from difficulties in a job market that is increasingly more demanding and complex. Few young people – and professionals who lose their jobs after many years with the same company – have the necessary knowledge and skills to successfully complete a selection process. Fortunately, there are workshops and lectures in which career guidance experts provide the necessary training. Below, three experts contribute their thoughts about their job and offer advice.
Itziar Casillas. A career counsellor at the Novia Salcedo Foundation
“Young people must be in social networks where companies are also present”
Novia Salcedo is an experienced institution helping young people find employment, a challenge they address from a comprehensive point of view. With more than 36 years of experience, they combine training and work experience programmes in companies with career guidance and catered for 1,375 young people last year.
A team of fourteen professionals organise two types of workshops. One is designed to identify the skills required in the job market. “We want to provide the trainees with the necessary tools to make them think about the supply in the market and we provide guidance on how to design a job search plan”, says Itziar Casillas. Group dynamics that mimic job interviews, how to prepare a CV, and other skills that help young people to learn how to manage their careers.
The second workshop organised by the Foundation focuses on relational and communication skills. “Everyone knows that the only job offers published are the ones that could not be covered by other means, a fact that is even more obvious if we look on the Internet”, she asserts. Based on this fact, the workshops teach how to make the most from networking and how to improve your position on professional networks, such as LinkedIn.
– What are the main questions posed by young people?
Their main queries are connected to the lack of information they have about businesses: the industry, requirements… They tell us that, during their studies, they hardly received any training and, hence, the lack of information on what the market needs and where to look for jobs. Perhaps, the most striking aspect is that the gap between the technical training they received and what can really be applied remains. The people who come to the guidance sessions need support to learn the skills and attitudes that they are not taught at school: how to negotiate, to be proactive, to make decisions, to communicate…
– Are they aware of the importance of knowing how to “sell” themselves when it comes to finding a job in a competitive environment?
They are aware, the problem arises when they have to identify the factors that make up that “sales process”. The instructors often have to make them realise that they have to advertise and enhance their strengths, but they also have to be aware of the impact of their actions. They take many strengths for granted and tend to repeat those that are fashionable without justifying why they think it is a strength. If this “sales process” is transferred to social media, the impact is far greater, therefore, the image we project and who can access it are very important aspects. Regarding social media, it is important to analyse and teach young people how to make the most of them. They have to be present on the social networks where businesses are present and know how to be found.
José Jiménez. Expert from www.orientacionparaelempleo.com
“It is very important that they have clear professional goals and priorities”
Through his blog, José Jiménez, provides answers to the main needs expressed by the people who visit orientacionparaelempleo.com. Tutorials, articles and guides provide useful information on how to write a cover letter, manage your visibility on LinkedIn, or find a job while still working. From his interaction with young people, he has realised that their most frequent concern is that “they have the feeling they are in a Catch 22 situation, in which they are required to have experience, but no-one gives them that first opportunity to gain experience. In addition, they are concerned about a context that generates few opportunities and about not being able to find jobs connected with their studies”.
In the opinion of this expert, the best help we can give them is to empower them. “They should not be in a hurry, but they should persevere, stay strong, believe in their value and their potential because opportunities will come along for those who seek them with an attitude for work”.
Although online employment platforms are the trend now, José Jiménez advises trying and selecting only a few to really learn how to use them because users need to be focussed to make the most of them. However, he says that the most important aspect of any job search process is, in addition to dedicating time to preparing a CV and job interviews, “knowing your professional goals and priorities”.
– What mistakes do people usually make when preparing a CV?
1. The main mistake is not realising the importance of a good CV at all levels.
2. A typical mistake is using unprofessional photographs and email accounts.
3. A frequent mistake is not including summer jobs or weekend jobs. These jobs, although not directly connected with their professional goals, provide a lot of information and are very interesting for companies.
4. The lack of clearly defined goals. It is important to transmit clear ideas and goals in the CV. Saying “I’m looking for any kind of job” is frowned upon.
5. Adding irrelevant information, such as old qualifications. It is enough to mention the highest level of qualifications obtained. What secondary school you attended is not important for businesses.
6. Another mistake is mentioning all the courses and seminars you have attended. Only mention those that are really interesting or are related to the job for which you are applying.
– And when attending a job interview?
1. The most common is not having prepared the interview, the most frequently asked questions.
2. A serious mistake is not knowing much about the company, because being familiar with the business earns lots of points.
3. Not knowing their strengths and not knowing how to convey them.
4. Failing to transmit enthusiasm and motivation.
María Asunción Gallo. Social and career guidance expert and founding partner of AOSLA-Gizalan.
“The challenge is adapting the guidance to each case and circumstance”
The Spanish Association of Social and Career Guidance Professionals (AOSLA-Gizalan) caters for more than 7,000 people working in a profession that, at the moment, lacks any official recognition. However, this figure is only part of the many people dedicated to this task. “There is no database with which people working as social and career guidance professionals can register. The people who do this job are clear about what we are but the profession has not been recognised professionally”, complains María Asunción Gallo.
The association offers specialised training, intermediation, information, and awareness for career guidance professionals and for agencies, entities and institutions that provide these services. But without losing sight of their main goal, which is “that social and career guidance can be recognised as a profession so that we can become an Official Professional Association. However, this is a complicated task that requires a lot of time, effort, and means. We do not see it happening soon”, she confesses.
With 22 years of experience, she applauds the schools and universities that have career guidance departments. This is the first stage of ‘llifelong guidance’, a little-known concept to which the EU committed in 2007 when it established a network of policies in this field. The purpose is to promote cooperation among member states to encourage coordination and collaboration among the various guidance providers – education, jobs, careers, social… – at national, regional, and local levels. “The idea is that any person who needs guidance at any time in their lives can access it and whoever provides guidance has the relevant training in any of those fields”.
-How do students benefit?
Students who access guidance to find a job, and indeed they do, become more familiar with the labour market and are capable of looking for jobs autonomously, which is the goal of social and career guidance actions.
-What do employment seekers want?
It depends. When you provide guidance, there are no clear answers because every case is unique. What people want depends on many aspects, some of which are closely related to personal issues. For example, young people who have just finished their studies and are looking for their first jobs will not need the same as people who have worked for years and are now out of work. A person with family responsibilities will not be looking for the same as someone who does not have those responsibilities. It also depends on their qualifications, training, interests, age, mobility, time and/or geographical availability, any disability, whether someone is an emigrant or immigrant, even on a person’s gender. There are as many needs as determining factors. Therefore, people who work in finding jobs for other people have to adapt our actions to each case, to each circumstance.