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Is it a Talent gap or confidence gap?

What I learned speaking to students about using LinkedIn

This week I had the opportunity to speak to the students at Portsmouth University about using LinkedIn to gain internships and graduate placements.

As I prepared for this, two things struck me:

  • Students are continually told placements (or jobs) are hard to get
  • Graduate Recruiters say there is a skills gap

Speaking to lectures, graduate recruiters and students, it became clear that it isn’t so much that we have a shortage in skills, but a shortage in confidence.

Growing up children are always told life is competitive and good jobs are hard to come by. I heard it myself as a student and, believing it, disqualified myself from applying for many good jobs because I concluded I was an unworthy candidate, never giving the recruiter the chance to decide for themselves.

We think that students are confident with social media and asking them to create a LinkedIn profile to create a business presence to seek out opportunities is a natural fit.

But it isn’t.

In my opinion, a student on LinkedIn demonstrates all the skills an employer is looking for. They demonstrate:

  • They are proactive in building their career
  • They value their network and understand importance of building one
  • They recognise the importance of building good relationship
  • They understand the importance of personal brand and social presence
  • And if they are doing it well, how to leverage their network to design their life and achieve their outcomes.

As I got excited for the students and all I could help them achieve with LinkedIn, I was reminded just how few of them would take action.

And the truth is few will, but it won’t be because they aren’t motivated, it’ll be because somewhere we have led our young people to lack confidence and that they aren’t the ‘top of the list’ when it comes to a competitive environment.

When working with the University of Portsmouth, it became clear to me just how much the University is doing to help the students to find relevant and practical experience. Yet the biggest obstacle they face is student confidence.

The students that take action with the information I have provided them will find placements. They will succeed and in doing so their confidence will build, and more success will come.

But what about the others?

I believe we are each responsible for the future generation and if there is anything we can impart to a young person, more than anything, is confidence. And we do this by showing them its OK to take a step and sometimes fail, its OK to be unsure and yet ask the questions anyway, that people around them are there to support them – and want to help.

In response to helping students build their confidence and use LinkedIn to build their career, I’ve created a private group where students can gain valuable advice and insight from business leaders.

If you’re a business leader, graduate recruiter or just someone who has a passion to share something with the younger generation, then I invite you to join.

The group is predominately for student to ask questions, learn about networking and building their career.

If you know a student who needs to learn how to use LinkedIn and would benefit from networking with industry leaders and receiving insights and advice, then please invite them to join the group.

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