Well, “there’s no single answer; no magic formula for getting hired,” she says. That said, most interviewers would agree on the basics: successful candidates are invariably a combination of personable, competent at the job they are applying for, hardworking and committed, and confident but not overconfident.
“At Starbucks, we hire on attitude rather than experience or qualifications,” Robbins explains. “The character and skills we look for (aside from a passion for great coffee!) include being a great team player and a caring person as well as good communication and customer service skills. These are difficult to demonstrate without prior experience in the workplace.”
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Citing research that shows that young people taking on weekend or part-time jobs are on the decline, Robbins says that one way candidates can set themselves apart is through voluntary work.
“By that I don’t mean an unpaid internship or work experience – I’m not for a minute suggesting that to get on the career ladder the next generation should have to work for free,” she reassures. “Instead, I mean committing a set amount of time and energy to supporting a good cause, whether that is helping out at an old age home, tending to a community allotment, or working with disadvantaged children in an after-school club. I mean taking advantage of the opportunity to learn about different communities and engage with people from different backgrounds, while, at the same time, fostering key skills needed by employers.”
However, whilst over half (54%) of job applicants in the UK have carried out some form of voluntary work, only eight per cent mention it on their CV, according to data from jobsite Indeed.
But, as Robbins explains, “at Starbucks, we see volunteering as an asset and emphasise it as a key aspect when considering job applicants, as well as encouraging existing employees to get involved.
“Ultimately, we find that volunteering is key to giving real-world experience of how different organisations work, and for building up the skills of young people and helping them become more employable. We look for voluntary work on a CV not because we are trying to tick a particular box, but because we know it is a brilliant a way for young people to signal to businesses that they will be committed employees who are willing to learn and develop on the job.”
In addition, since 2013, Starbucks has been a proud partner of the HeadStart programme, which gives young people (aged 16-19) an interview or internship with a leading employer, along with workshops that help prepare them for the workplace. In return, participants commit to volunteer in their local community for at least 16 hours.
“To date, we have employed over 125 young people from HeadStart across London, Birmingham and Manchester,” Robbins continues. “Not only that, but candidates that come to us this way have a far higher chance of securing a job; on average they have a four in five pass rate at interview, compared with one in five for non-HeadStart applicants.”