I’ve experienced rigorous assessments as a student and later delivered these as part of my career. Assessments can provide some great insights. However, I’m questioning if we’re creating expectations through selection processes. If we are, what are these expectations? Can we actually meet them when students eventually join us?
I regularly hear talk about graduates being entitled. In fact, I hear it pretty much everywhere I go. Instinctively I feel this is a bad thing. It suggests that being entitled leads to undesired behaviours. The Oxford Dictionary describes entitled as “Believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.” So, why do I feel this is negative? In all honesty, we should expect our graduates to believe this, right? After all, isn’t that what we’re selling? A structured training programme only for those who secure a coveted position. Fast-track career progression. Opportunities to build relationships with senior management. We sell all these things (and more). Then we put candidates through several selection stages. In addition, we create a community especially for them, often even before they join us. So if we create something we perceive as negative, why do we keep doing it?
Through every interaction a student has with us, we build their expectations. Yet with so much noise in the marketplace, we continually sell the benefits and rarely discuss the graft. When it comes to selection, we make them jump through hoops and dangle a carrot at the end. It’s not just any carrot, it’s their entire future. Remember, education has conditioned students with the belief that if they work hard they get rewarded. This reward has been good grades to study subjects they are interested in or that will lead to the next stage. Now, the reward is a wonderful opportunity to build the career they want, as long as they continue to work hard. We know it takes more than hard work to develop a career, yet where is this discussed?
So, what’s the alternative? Well, personally I think we need to spend more time considering what it takes to be successful in our organisations. Then we need to honestly share this insight whenever we connect with candidates. Even better would be to ensure a good conversation about the realities of the opportunity and expectations takes place before they join. A conversation where the candidate feels confident they can be honest with their questions, rather than trying to impress. We also need to consider how we can truly make selection a two-way process. I believe this will support in hiring individuals who really want to work with us. We are more likely to retain them for a longer period of time. They are also likely to be easier to engage, manage, and develop.
It’s more than our selection processes creating expectations, it’s every part of a candidate’s journey that does this.