Early career professionals are usually described as graduates within five years of completing what they anticipate as their highest degree. This group are filled with ambition and aspirations, bringing energy and enthusiasm into the workplace.
On the downside of this great potential lies the responsibility of living up to these expectations, which may be complicated by the combination of various responsibilities such as finishing training, securing a job and starting a family.
A healthy work‐life balance is key to supporting them to successfully advance to their next career stage while avoiding burnout. Employers need to be sensitive to these concerns. Flexible working policies. Accessible leave for parents or carers. Employee benefits that look to well-being in support of productivity.
The experience of early career professionals
According to 2018 data, fewer than half of graduate and postgraduate respondents (44.1%) had some form of work experience, with undergraduate respondents less likely to report having any work experience (39%). These potential employees may be less used to workplace norms. Meanwhile, small or medium enterprises were popular amongst those who stated a preference for employer size.
The other comments given to the survey shed a clearer light on the second answer. SMEs were more valued as employers by respondents because people are more likely to be noticed and valued individually. There was a sense that you’re not just a number. It was also thought these environments were easier for getting to know people and developing teams. Early career professionals look at work as a whole, not just as a pay cheque. Lessons here for larger companies are to focus on a sense of community, of bringing people together.
Ways to support early career professionals
The survey also highlighted problems early career job seekers face in finding the right job opportunity. For example:
- Respondents wanted clearer information on salary, training and development opportunities.
- There was a perceived need for Insight into company culture, non-monetary benefits and specified hours of work.
- Details like equality and diversity strategy and compliance were suggested as useful, like the proportion of employees from different backgrounds, and company policy on equal pay.
Many of the issues suggested above are structural barriers. It’s about finding the right opportunities, understanding the employer and finding a sense of togetherness, as well as professionalism. Supporting early career professionals with mentoring, career management, good job descriptions and open communication sets your company up to find the leaders of the future.
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