Standing in for our monthly columnist Jay Richards, his business partner Cat, at a time when many leaders in our industry are contemplating the future work lives of their children, takes a look at the skills needed for young people to flourish in our industry and beyond.
By Cat Agostinho, BCOO and Co-Founder, Imagen
No matter what stage your young people get to at 16, whether they plan to leave school straight after year 11, attend college or university, it’s a challenge to break into the world of work. It is therefore important to talk to them about the skills that are required before they start a job and to support and encourage them whatever their plans may be.
And while this age group is a fully digital generation, there are broad skills that will apply to many industries and give them flexibility in switching roles – an increasingly common career choice for this age group, often referred to as the gig economy.
Being business savvy will benefit young people no matter what job they have. This doesn’t involve taking business studies or wanting to run a company, but there are fundamentals that will aid development and empower them throughout their careers.
- Adapting to different situations – Understanding when there is a need to be informal or formal. When invited to meetings, ask ahead about the context to understand your role within it and how to present yourself amongst different people.
- Problem solving – Show a desire to offer solutions to challenges, don’t expect answers from others, challenge yourself to think about alternatives.
- The economy – watch, read, listen to the news and be able to have a general conversation about what is happening in the world. This doesn’t have to incur strong opinions but be aware of the current situations.
- Ask questions – What makes a company profitable? What are the growth goals for a company? What are their main challenges? Ask these in interviews but also once you are in a job.
- Finance – you don’t have to be good at maths, or even like numbers, but have an understanding of how money comes into a business and how it goes out, how a business makes money and if it is profitable or not.
This age group is brutally honest. They don’t hold back. This shows true personality and is encouraged. However, it’s important to know how to use this in the professional working world.
- Written – while emojis and gifs may be useful when writing to friends and some colleagues, this isn’t always applicable for everyone at work – understand the audience you are conversing with and adapt emails accordingly.
- Verbal – You want to be authentic and this is a trait that is valued highly. Learn how to use this authenticity while remaining professional. Share your ideas and opinions but with the appropriate tone of voice and mannerisms.
- Body language – It’s not always easy to maintain eye contact, but if you can practise, it will create an element of trust and will demonstrate that you are engaged in what is being said.
- Listen – Often people hear but don’t actively listen, focus and retain the information that you hear, try not to interrupt unless appropriate, and consciously listen to the words. If you can summarise the conversation afterwards then you have truly listened.
3. Effectiveness and output
As the job market is continually changing and technology plays an even more crucial role than ever before, Gen Z are well equipped to deal with ongoing rapid change. To be effective and deliver the best output there are a number of areas that can be practised.
- Adapt and learn – Open your mind to multitasking and continuously acquiring new skills. You don’t have to be an expert at everything but show willingness to learn to use a variety of tools and systems.
- Limit distractions – Focusing in crucial to deliver the best output. Set achievable daily tasks and be truly present when you are conducting these.
- Assess and analyse – Form questions about information, challenge assumptions and process your thoughts before you share your opinions. If you are able to present a thought process for your case then others will take you seriously.
IMAGEN provides opportunities for paid work for 16-25 year olds with some of the worlds greatest agencies and brands. Our mission is to enable young people to shape their future.
Cat has been a supporter and promoter of talent throughout her career and also founded dawn in 2009 – a community dedicated to inspiring and developing women’s careers both personally & professionally. Cat was listed as an IPA Women of Tomorrow Finalist 2018 and a contributing member to the Conscious Advertising Network (CAN).