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Soft Skills 101: Leadership

The successful and innovative Steve Jobs once said, “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”

But in a world where a ruler, and not a yardstick, is all that youth are exposed to, how is one to develop the skills necessary to expect excellence? Through leadership.

According to BusinessDictionary, leadership involves establishing a clear vision, sharing that vision with others so that they will follow willingly, providing the information, knowledge, and methods to realize the said vision and to coordinate (and balance) the interests of all members and stakeholders. Essentially, communicate effectively what you aim to achieve and provide motivation to keep the vision and goal you seek in plain sight.

In a 2015 survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employees, participating employers were asked to name the attributes they value most in candidates. To no surprise, leadership was the primary skill identified by 77.8 percent of the participants when it came to the ability to work in a team. 

Why are leadership skills important in business?

In today’s business realm, it’s crucial that businesses hire employees who can not only manage themselves but who can also assist with the direction of other workers. By doing so, employees are more likely to build quality relationships throughout the organization and essentially take on a role of a mentor.

Leadership Development in Business

Due to the few opportunities of leadership development prior to entering the workplace, companies are integrating what’s called the Kotter International model of 70:20:10 which identifies 70 percent on-the-job learning, 20 percent social learning through coaching or mentoring and 10 percent formal skill development programs. Businesses are now taking it upon themselves to provide training to employees, teaching basic soft skills to enable them to be better components of a company.

How to Include Leadership Skills in a Resume

Soft skills such as leadership are not always a given when it comes to potential new hires. While one candidate may have far more experience or “hard skills,” such as accounting or data analysis, he or she may not have the necessary “soft skills” to manage others or to be successful in the company culture. When incorporating a skill such as leadership on a resume, it is crucial that you not only include it within the skills portion of the resume but also explore how it was developed within the professional endeavors listed. The National Association of Colleges and Employers survey discovered that only 67.5 percent of employers look for “technical skills” (or hard skills) when hiring, compared to the previously mentioned (77.8%) soft skill of leadership. When describing your previous work experience you will want to incorporate your soft skill with the technical skill (or hard skill) practices and then the outcome.

Through this formula, you are demonstrating that the outcome would not have been possible without the assistance of the two skillsets. This also shows that you are able to practice such skills in a professional setting.

When in doubt of your own leadership abilities, ask yourself “Am I a yardstick or a ruler or quality?”

To get started on creating your resume, check out JA My Resume

Taking the Pulse Out of Impulse Buying

A survey of 2,000 U.S. shoppers conducted by Chain Drug Review found that 20 percent, or 1-in-5 purchases, are impulse buys which equated to 1,456 impulse buys a year or almost three per week. With impulse buys ranging from purchasing a candy bar from the register side shelves to the perfect pair of heels that catches your eye, the dollar amount can add up quicker than you may comprehend.  As every dollar adds up, the average amount for impulse spending comes to $450 monthly, $5,400 annually or $324,000 over the course of a lifetime according to CNBC. Depending on how badly you may feel over your unnecessary spending, I personally recommend focusing on the smaller number (monthly).

Where does all of our out-of-control money spending stem from?

Ian Zimmerman Ph.D. from Psychology Today reveals that impulse buying is related to anxiety and unhappiness and therefore learning to control it could indeed help one’s psychological well-being. Yet, there are certain people who may experience the “shop-till-you-drop” fever far more often than others. Dr. Zimmerman identifies that “people who like to shop for fun are more likely to buy on an impulse.” This is a frequent behavior that causes financial panic when credit card bills and mortgage payments are due. That leads us to the question thousands of Americans are Googling… “How can impulse buying be controlled or prevented?

Dr. Zimmerman’s answer is to understand what motivates one’s impulse buying. Another solution that has been mentioned in countless help articles is asking yourself “Did I plan to buy this, or did I get the urge to buy it just now?” If you didn’t plan on purchasing the product, whether you’re at the local grocery store or Target, you are probably experiencing an impulse buy. 

Another solution relies on the understanding of budgeting. Kristin Wong, contributing writer of Lifehacker and financial author, determines that by focusing on the opportunity cost, you are able to control your spending. In case you are not familiar with this term, opportunity cost can be understood as what you are giving up in order to obtain something else. By establishing money goals, you are able to compare the amount that you are spending on an unnecessary item with the cost of an item you have as a goal.

These fundamental personal financial skills are necessary for youth to learn in order to be more in control of their finances in their future.  With the help of Junior Achievement, your student can become more prepared to resist impulse buying, therefore, being in control of their money.

Check out what other teens think of managing money in the latest JA Teens & Personal Finance Survey.

Q & A with JA College Student Volunteer

College Student Makes Difference with Young Students

As Zachary Robles walks on to shake the president’s hand of Kent University, his smile is not only for being the first generation to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Management, but for the pride he feels for having made an impact in his local community.

Managing full class schedules and contemplating future career paths, Robles made time to teach Junior Achievement programs in his local community. JA wanted to know how does a driven, hard-working college student fit JA into his life. This is what we found out!

 

JA: First off, congratulations on graduating from Kent University! What an accomplishment! With all of the extra-curricular options on campus, what made you choose JA?

Robles: Thank you for the best wishes on graduation. I’ve been through a lot and it still amazes me that I had the opportunity to complete something that hasn't been done in my family before. I'm the first generation to complete a Bachelor's Degree in Management. 

Simply put, I have pride in the next generation. I have tons of experience working with today's youth, from being a counselor to working as a mentor, along with 3 years of working with Junior Achievement. My main goal with doing Junior Achievement: Showing kids that it is important to make smart choices, because before they know it, they will be where I am at. I love to share my knowledge of business (and life) with them and if I can guide at least one kid to be successful, I can go to bed happy. 

 

JA: Wow! We love knowing young professionals, like yourself, believe in our mission! How do you feel the curriculum benefited and resonated with the students?

Robles: With the curriculum, I am beyond pleased with the resulting product Junior Achievement established. From my experience, my students always looked forward to each lesson, and they asked a TON of questions.

This type of engagement is what we need. Outside of the educational setting, I always have parents/teachers come up to me when their child recognizes me and say thanks for my work with the program. To sum up: This program, in my professional opinion, is very successful here in northeast Ohio. 

 

JA: As you have been a volunteer with JA for quite a while, do you have a favorite lesson or a favorite student engagement hack?

Robles: From my experience, I always LOVED lesson 4. (The Debit Card/Credit Card Savvy Shopper). Every time I teach this lesson, I actually make an amendment with the lesson and have the class work in groups. Here, I encourage the groups to work together for the answers, as I like to challenge that if each group gets X amount of questions right, I will reward them with donuts personally hand-delivered from me. This gets everyone excited and engaged. 

During the next period, I will review the material with them and once they answer the last question correctly, I like to "trick" them to think they got it wrong by walking out of the room for a second and coming back in with donuts as a reward. My teachers I was partnered with love this, as it adds a little comical twist to the curriculum. 

I can go on about how wonderful this program is. I will go even as far to say that if I am still in the area for the next couple of years, I will continue to teach it. Junior Achievement does an excellent job, I can't praise the organization enough. 

 

From all of us at Junior Achievement, congratulations Zachary for graduating and thank you for giving your time to set youth up for success in your local community. We cannot wait to hear about your accomplishments that lie ahead!

4 Employee Benefits of Corporate Volunteerism

Employee Volunteering Benefits

What will community volunteerism do for your work family?

America’s Charities reports that the average business turnover rate in all U.S. industries is 15.1% with those making under $75,000 or less a year, costing $15,000 to be replaced. That is hard-earned money that is being taken out of the budget to find someone who may or may not be the right fit for the position. In this era of hiring, it is more important than ever to invest in your employees from an individual AND work-community standpoint. The best way to knock out these two standpoints with one stone? Volunteering! Check out the following benefits volunteering has on your company and on those who make up your business.

Improved Connectivity and Performance

According to a PwC study, 10% to 15% of the world workforce reports feeling unsatisfied within their workplace dynamic. In turn, only 4 in 10 employees are planning on spending at least another year at their current jobs. Yet, through volunteering, employees have the ability to feel more “connected” to their co-workers and executive teams. A large component of employee performance is not only one’s passion for his or her work, but also an environment that harnesses challenges. Volunteering provides employees with an opportunity to impact their local community by coming together with their professional family. It is with challenges in a group setting that connectivity is formed and therefore provides a foundation that an employee feels committed to. In fact, committed employees have been found to put in 57% more effort into their job and are 87% less likely to resign.

Investing in Skill Building

By encouraging your employees’ input in volunteer efforts for your company, you are providing them with the ability to take on leadership roles that in turn build experience. Through various community efforts, employees are moved from their comfort zones to work with others to solve challenges in order to achieve goals. Collaboration, self-awareness, and leadership skills are just a few of the many skills that are exercised through volunteering. Professional skill-building should not be limited to those looking to be hired, skillsets should also be harnessed within one’s work environment.

Attract Future Employees

A Deloitte study found that almost 9 in 10 (89%) employed Americans believe that companies that encourage volunteer activities offer a better workplace than companies that do not. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can not only serve to benefit your company when seeking employees, but it can also serve to benefit your sales. A 2017 Cone Communications Survey found that 87% of Americans will purchase a product from a company advocating an issue they care about. If making a difference can sell your product or service, why wouldn’t it sell your company to a possible job candidate?

Harnessing Charitable Giving

In this day and age, Millennials make up 1 in 3 labor force participants in the United States, making them the largest labor force generation that America has ever seen.  Further research conducted by Cone Communications, revealed 2 out of 3 millennials will not consider taking a job if the company does not have strong CSR values and 9 in 10 reported they do a better job in CSR-friendly environments.

Final Thoughts

With all the benefits of volunteering, one thing is for certain -- providing volunteer opportunities not only helps your company in the eyes of potential candidates and consumers, it also fulfills the professional desire in your employees to make an impact in their local communities.

The Impact of Jobless Teens this Summer

Jobless Teens

When you think back to your first job, what were some major life takeaways? Was it more than a paycheck that filled your gas tank? What about your professional growth or potential career path?

Unfortunately, many teens are struggling to find a summer job. Andy Challenger, vice president at Challenger Grey reported that teen hiring is expected to be slightly lower in 2018 than in 2017. Which begs the question—why?

One possible reason is that employers are looking for potential, more ideal, employees that have more experience and education. Yet, how is a teen expected to gain work knowledge if he or she is not even being considered?

The once plentiful job positions that teens traditionally held during summer breaks are now being filled by these “ideal employees”. Being beat out of summer employment has resulted in some perceived benefits though.

 MarketWatch reported that teens are actually taking summer classes and putting in community service to benefit their upcoming college applications. While ensuring that their near future is covered, teens are missing on crucial long-term skills that they could be building.  Professor and director of the Center for Labor Markets and Policy at Drexel University Paul Harington commented, “Work is a strong complement for going to school. It predicts improved employment experiences and higher wages and reduces the likelihood of future unemployment.”

What Teens Can Do

One of the best ways for teens to ensure they are qualified for a summer job is to gain experience. While the experience may not involve pay, it may result in being considered for a job in the future.  

Through volunteering, teens will not only have the opportunity to create a professional network while doing good in their community, but they can include the skills gained and projects managed on their resumes.

If you’re a teen, or a parent of a teen, without a summer job, look into your local charity organizations. You may find that by giving your time, you will receive an invaluable gift for your future -- work experience. For tips on how to apply and interview for that next job, visit the My Resume section of Junior Achievement’s JA My Way.

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