What do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

Blog Post Published 9th November 2015

What do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

The reason for the timing of this blog is that Success Recruit have recently been looking for a new team member and the first question I ask potential recruits is a variation of that question.

As recruitment consultants we have an advantage when searching for new staff, as we are able to ask potential candidates open questions about what they are looking for without them knowing that we ourselves are recruiting.  When candidates know they are speaking to the company who are recruiting the answers to any questions are likely to be skewed towards getting that job.

We are looking for a trainee recruitment consultant at the beginning of their career and so the first question that I ask potential candidates to do is tell me in their own words what they are looking for in their next job.

The most common answer?  “Anything”.

Honestly, around 60-70% of the people I am speaking to have absolutely no idea what they are looking for in a job.

By definition we are generally asking this question of young people and so a little bit of confusion or lack of direction is to be expected of most.  Further questioning will reveal a little more in some cases but it is clear that many have put little or no thought in to what they would like to do as a career.

Consider this; a 40 hours week, 48 weeks a year for 45 years equals a career of 86,400 hours.  There are people out there that have put no thought in to what they would like to do for 86,400 hours!

I would not expect 100% of people to be right even if they had put a lot of thought in to what they want to do but 100% of people would have a better chance of being right if they had.  It is not even about knowing the right job title; it is about knowing the type of environment you would like to be in.  Would you prefer to work alone or with lots of people?  Does dealing with other people’s problems enthuse you or drive you nuts?  Would you prefer to work in one place or travel around every day?

If we are honest with ourselves when we answer these types of questions we can paint a pretty clear picture of what type of career we might enjoy.  THEN we can look at the type of jobs that fit what we enjoy; doing it the other way round means we shoe-horn ourselves in to something.

Although the responsibility for answering these questions eventually rests with the individual I do feel there is a lack of guidance for young people in this area.  It is easy as an adult to ask these questions as we have learned from our mistakes but can I honestly say I put a lot of thought in to my career as a 16 year old?  No.

Success Recruit have tried engaging with Schools, Colleges and Universities about careers guidance but we have not been successful as they all have government funded programmes and “do it themselves”.  I have to be honest and say that the evidence suggests that the majority of them are not doing it very well.  (There is a fantastic speech from Seth Godin on Education here that really resonates with me)

What is clear to me is that we should be doing more to help children learn about what they want to do for 86,400 hours!