If you’ve just finished your studies, or are heading into your last year, it’s time to start thinking about your first job! Here’s the thing though – you can have all the hard skills and knowledge, but what really counts in the ‘real world’ is work readiness.
What is work readiness?
Work readiness refers to the soft skills (that you learn through experience rather than study) that you bring to your first job. So much of being ready for a career is about your coping skills, resilience and personality.
As you transition into adulthood and begin to forge a career, you will discover that while your knowledge and hard skills are important, it’s your soft skills that really set you up for success.
In the workplace, you will have personality clashes with colleagues, you may have a difficult boss, you may be unfairly criticised, and sometimes corporate policy might make no sense to you. Working in the real world can be challenging, so you need to develop maturity, responsibility and restraint to be prepared for the workplace.
Are you work ready?
All of us have different character assets and mature at different rates. And that’s ok – it may take you some time to find your feet in your career. What you can do, however, is begin to examine your soft skills, character assets, and things you struggle with. Acknowledge where you have good skills, and be committed to working on those skills you lack.
There are 3 different aspects of the workplace that affect work readiness:
Your own responsibilities – being able to manage your workflow, being self-sufficient and get your job done. Also included in this is how to balance your work and personal life so that one doesn’t affect the other too much.
Your soft skills – these are your character assets such as confidence, communication, and self-sufficiency. A soft skill that is vital in the workplace is being able to show self-restraint and not become emotional or take things personally when the work – or the people you work with – are challenging.
Work pressures and dynamics – there are many things in the workplace that are beyond your control. Understanding these dynamics helps you accept them and find a way to work with them. A few examples include difficult or unfair managers, work colleagues that you don’t get along with, company rules and policies, tight deadlines, and challenging working conditions – think load shedding! You can learn to apply your soft skills to these challenges. When it comes to things outside of your control, being flexible and resilient is key!
It’s a learning curve
If you’re panicking about your first job and wondering if you’ll even learn the skills to be work-ready, remember that it’s about the process and not perfection. One of the blessings of entering the working world is that you have an opportunity to grow, mature and learn more about yourself – so that ultimately, you have the soft skills and personality needed to maintain and further your career.