It’s that time of year again. The news is full of youngsters elated or deflated after picking up their GCSE and A-Level results. And, of course, this is a big deal – it’s the culmination of a decade or more’s work, something they’ve been working towards since they were toddlers in nursery, and something that will appear in black and white on their CV for evermore!
But…dare we say this? Grades aren’t everything are they?
As employers, you’ve probably met the highly educated university graduate with the tip-top 1st who struggles to grasp the concept of a filing system, or the idea of customer service, because they have no practical experience of work, haven’t you?
We don’t want to belittle those that have chosen and succeeded in academia, this deserves respect in its own right of course. But there’s a lot to be said for those who enter the workplace straight from school, sometimes with very few qualifications, and work their way up from the ground.
School is its own enigma. It has its own social rules and etiquette, it plays to the strengths of some and allows others to fall behind, it values conformity and uniformity rather than creativity and individuality –it is its own little universe. For this reason, we have to question whether the results of a person’s time in this strange microcosmic universe give us the full picture of a person’s worth when they’re cast out into the working world.
So, we’d just like to de-bunk a few myths about school leavers and their potential value, (good grades or not), to you as an employer. Here are our top three reasons why we think school leavers rock – and you should too!
We don’t mean they know nothing, they just know nothing about the work environment and this can be a great thing for a couple of reasons:
- They have no preconceptions.
Anyone who has worked within your industry previously will presume certain things. They will have formulated their own ideas and may already have their own slant on things. This slant doesn’t always ‘fit’ with your organisation and the way you run things. Having someone with no idea means they are a blank canvas that you can fill, your way.
- They haven’t picked up bad habits.
More importantly, they won’t be resistant to learning the way you want things done. In fact, they’ll be like little sponges taking in everything you do, and how you do it. You just have to be careful not to pass on any of your bad habits as you mentor them!
This is great! We don’t mean the monosyllabic grunts often associated with teenagers here, we mean the language of today. They’re down with the kids, with the ‘yoof’. They understand the latest tech talk, they know what’s big on the student scene, and they understand references that you may not.
Any industry has to move with the times and some need to engage very specifically with the youth market. If you want to embrace a younger demographic as a target audience, having one of their peers on your team can give you a fantastic edge when it comes to communicating your message in a way they’ll understand and appreciate.
Yes, they are. We can’t argue with this one. But haven’t you heard the old adage that you get out what you put in? Reap what you sow? Givers gain?
These eager, fresh-faced ‘newbies’ will need a little extra guidance. They may make a few mistakes. They’ll probably take a little longer to grasp things to start with. They’re not the ready-made ‘Tetris tile’ employee that will slot simply and seamlessly into your workplace and working role. But consider the benefits….
They’ll appreciate your investment in them. They’ll learn from their mistakes. And when they do get it – they’ll really get it…
What you’ll reap in return is a loyal employee who knows your business inside and out – and the added satisfaction of getting to watch them blossom into a confident, keen, model employee or even future manager!
So, next time a school leaver’s CV lands on your desk, try to stay open minded and give them a chance. Their CV may be short on experience, they may not even have good grades – but it doesn’t mean they can’t make the grade if given the opportunity. We think they rock.