Ask HR: What should I do to gain advantage over other candidates?

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What you need to know:

  • Have you familiarised yourself with your work and environment? Seeking to understand your remit and context clearly as a trainee is a useful starting point.


  • It might not be enough to learn by instruction and observation alone.


  • Proactively demonstrate a sense of curiosity that enables you to access frontiers of knowledge about the organisation and its aspirations that others might only stumble upon much later in their tenures.

I have recently joined a respected multinational as a graduate trainee alongside nearly 30 others. We have been told that there will only be five employment slots for us when the year ends. Is there something I can do to stand apart from the rest and be among the five? I really want this job but I am fearful that if I don’t do something extra, I may be bypassed by the selection team. What must I do to boost my chances?

It is positive that you are already contemplating how best to approach your graduate trainee position in order to earn a place among those that will be offered employment by the organisation. You already have the basics to have made it this far, your focus now should be on what could favourably distinguish you from the rest of your peers in the course of the next 12 months.

Have you familiarised yourself with your work and environment? Seeking to understand your remit and context clearly as a trainee is a useful starting point. It might not be enough to learn by instruction and observation alone. Proactively demonstrate a sense of curiosity that enables you to access frontiers of knowledge about the organisation and its aspirations that others might only stumble upon much later in their tenures. This includes appreciating elements that underlie the organisational culture. What makes an employee a citizen of that organisation? What narratives carry the organisation’s cultural essence?

Have you been assigned a supervisor? He or she has probably been with the organisation longer than you have and can therefore provide answers to many of your queries. Listen, learn and show respect. Have you already been assigned a particular role? Approach every assignment with excellence and complete it on time. Whenever there is opportunity, attempt other tasks beyond your assignment. Make it part of your early personal brand to do a sterling job, even if you have been asked to carry out tasks that you or others consider mundane. Most beginnings are never too glamourous.

People bear different backgrounds and personalities. Some might appear odd indeed. You will equally appeal to colleagues as being different. Crave self-awareness. Patiently learn to work with diversity and nurture relationships across the organisation. Coexisting meaningfully with others at work is never without personal expense. In the end, your attitude will supply the needed winning edge if you find yourself in a photo finish at the end of the year.

HR Practitioner                                                                                                                        
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