“How can I progress from this role?” is one question that can send a shiver down the spine of a hiring manager in an interview. Many interviewers still tear their hair out if they believe that the candidate is already talking about leaving a role they haven’t even been offered yet. Well, according to Thomas International, 52% of millennials consider career progression as their main priority when job searching. If this is the case, interviewers are going to continue to come up against the progression question time and time again.
First things first: career progression means different things to different people. For some, it’s all about the salary; for others, it could be learning a new skill. Once the interviewee has answered the question about what progression means to them, the client can tailor their own response accordingly.
Here are a few ways you can help your client manage this question when they’re next asked by a candidate in an interview.
1. Lateral career paths
If your client uses a career ladder to mark progression, it’s time to start educating them about a big change in business thinking. The career ladder clearly lays out a hierarchical structure the employee should follow, with promotion meaning another step up to the next rung. However, many huge corporations like Google and Toyota now adhere to a flat business structure as a rule, to great success.
Instead of moving ‘up’, many people are moving sideways or diagonally into roles which aren’t in their traditional path. Your clients can benefit from an ambitious candidate by moving them laterally within their own company. For example, if the candidate is interviewing for an events job and wants to know where their career can take them, your client could talk through the opportunities available in sales, marketing or communications. The candidate will then leave, satisfied they have multiple options to grow within your client’s company, and your client doesn’t feel tripped up by the question.
2. Special projects and committees
If there are opportunities to set up special projects or committees within your client’s company, these can also act as a way for a candidate to learn new skills and gain experience in a different area. For example, are there sustainability, corporate social responsibility or social committees within the client’s workplace?
If your client is hiring a PA, for example, projects might include helping the operations team manage an office move or working closely with the marketing team on a large-scale event. Encourage your client to talk about these business activities during the interview so the candidate is aware of all the available opportunities to learn new skills.
3. Flexible job descriptions
As recruiters, we know there are occasions – with some clients for certain jobs – to send a range of candidates with differing experiences and skills. Often, this is because there has been a change in the structure or the client is reorganizing a team. In these situations, having a flexible job description makes it possible for the client to shape the job depending on who they meet.
If a candidate has a specialized skill, such as a second language or advanced PowerPoint, your client can identify it in the interview and talk through how that skill might be incorporated into their job description – and the progression that ensues as a result. For example, a second language might open the doors to work with international clients, and their PowerPoint prowess might enable them to work with a design team on their creative presentations.