In the next of our blogs about employability skills, we are talking about initiative.

Many job adverts state that they want a candidate to have, and to be able to demonstrate, initiative – it sounds like such a positive thing to have, who wouldn’t want someone with it? In our mission to debunk some of the language around job applications and the world of work, we have shown our own initiative and proactively grasped the proverbial nettle in the hope we have something wise and meaningful to say about this very subject – here goes.

Initiative does indeed sound like something a good candidate for most jobs would have; it sounds good and feels like a positive attribute; something we all think we’ve probably got – but what does ‘initiative’ in the context of work actually mean?  

Here are 10 ways that we think you can, and almost certainly, should, show initiative in the workplace and explains what the employer might be seeking when they ask for initiative in their wish-list of skills.  They are looking for:

  1. Someone who can act without being told or specifically directed by someone else.  This might not happen on day 1 of a new job, but they are looking for someone with the ability to think independently and to not wait for a list of instructions every day; someone who gets on with things rather than waiting to be told what to do next.
  2. Someone who can find out what they need to know to do the job better. And to then do something about it. Realising that if you had access to a different system, or that you need to be trained on something that will help you do your job better, is exactly what they want you to do.  They want people that can spot gaps in their knowledge or skills – and work on filling these gaps.
  3. Someone who can spot opportunities. They want people that can identify ways to connect people and make their business work better and smarter – making connections between projects, people and tasks is important and can have huge benefits in reducing duplicated effort and increasing morale.
  4. Someone who will speak up when they see things that could be better or are just plain wrong. Joining a team in any business will give you the opportunity to come in with a fresh pair of eyes, they want people that can (albeit subtly!) suggest new ways or working and identify opportunities to make things better.
  5. Someone who can contribute wherever they can. You can bring something to every role and to every team that you join.  They want someone who is a source of positivity and ideas, someone who joins in and contributes wherever they can; joins in that fantasy football league, buys something at the bake sale and goes to the Christmas party!
  6. Someone who works to understand why and how things happen like they do – be inquisitive, ask why and how things work.  This will help you add value and improve processes later on.
  7. Someone who is always prepared for a meeting.  Someone who arrives on time; takes a pen; takes notes; is prepared to pick up some actions;  and isn’t just there to fill a chair and eat biscuits!
  8. Someone who can anticipate any issues.  They try and identify any problems that might occur in advance of meeting them; they think about the impacts of their work and how others might be affected; they forewarn others of any issues and work with them to counter any objections or reticence.  
  9. Someone who can address their own weaknesses and areas for development.  They know you aren’t perfect (no-one is), so if you know you talk too much, make a conscious effort to listen more; if you are shy, be brave, and if you need help with writing professional emails, ask for help and learn to use spellcheck and to proof-read.
  10. Someone who can reach out and wants to grow their skills.  Good team members will recognise that everyone can teach them something. Get to know your co-workers and you’ll find out all sorts of things; learn from everyone you meet. 

So, if that job advert or job description you have found asks for initiative amongst the required skills, use your initiative and contact us at The CCCU Careers Hub or visit us in Augustine House.  We can offer advice and guidance with job-hunting as well as help with practical things like drafting and reviewing applications, demonstrating your skills on your CV and helping you prepare for an  interview – it’s what we do. 

Grasp the nettle.

Use us. 

Help make yourself as lucky as you can be with job-hunting – we’ll see you soon!

Want to find out more about jobs that suit your skills?

  • Go on to the Careers & Enterprise Hub, and under ‘Resources’ click on ‘Labour Market Information’. There, you can ‘explore by skills’ – just click on at least 3 skills, and it’ll show you job roles that match!
  • If you click on the job role, it’ll give you more information about average salary, what the role entails etc.