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Initiative - When you do the dishes before your mum tells you to

Updated: Feb 3, 2023

There are twelve key foundation skills essential for success in any job. Being able to provide clear and detailed evidence of your skills, knowledge and approach to work, will show any prospective employer that you are the right person for the job. Each week we will profile one of the twelve foundation skills, along with what employers are looking for and tips to improve the skill.

Week one: Initiative

(noun) When you do the dishes before your mum tells you to.

Initiative is your willingness and ability to take action without being told. Organisations need employees who can think on their feet and take action without waiting for someone to tell them what to do. Using initiative at work will make you stand out from other job applicants and co-workers, for all the right reasons.

Check out five ways to improve initiative and become more inventive, entrepreneurial, creative, resourceful and ingenious.

1. Look for ways to make things better, easier or more cost effective

Be the person who comes to the table with solutions, rather than the one that constantly raises the problems. As employers, we are looking for people who have an entrepreneurial mindset and can add value to our business, at any level.

Practice: Identify a problem in your household, neighbourhood, workplace or school. Now, use your creativity and initiative to identify a number of solutions. Think big, think small, think opposites, think inside and outside the box. Document all of your ideas, no matter how ‘stupid’!

2. Use your voice and share your ideas with others

Have the confidence to share your ideas, especially people who make decisions. We value employees that can communicate new ideas with confidence. The communication doesn’t have to be verbal. It could start with an email, simple plan or pitch presentation.

Practice: If you’re not so confident, start by asking questions. Ask if other people share the same problem and how they deal with it. Find out what others think of your problem and solution. Just start the conversation and share your ideas.

3. Jump on board when new things are introduced

Hooray for employees with enthusiasm for change!!!

We don’t mind if you ask questions, we applaud those who can take actions without constant direction and we love a willingness to try new things.

Practice: Watch other people’s response to change. Become aware of your own response to change in your life. It’s interesting to be aware of your auto response when new things happen. See what happens if you take a positive-first way of responding.

4. Have a ‘what else can I do?’ attitude

Coaches often remind players to "keep doing the one percenters," indicating that players should focus on the extra efforts which make turnovers more likely. The "little extra effort" often goes unrewarded on the statistics, and that’s how they received the name "one percenter". Individually, these efforts don’t affect the outcome of the game, but collectively they can, and so they are regarded as a percentage of the overall performance of the team.

Practice: What else can you do today? What little extra effort today will give you the edge in your job, application, education, life? – And do just that!

5. Step outside of your comfort zone and do something new

Your comfort zone is a great place, there’s usually your house, family, friends and regular routines. Outside of your comfort zone are places, conversations, people and experiences waiting to be explored.

Practice: Try something new…anything…just imagine the size of your comfort zone if every week you stepped outside it and tried something you had never done before.

Tell us the last time you took the initiative.

My Career Passport is a resource that detailed the twelve foundation skills for any job. The passport supports young people to:

- Identify strengths and skills

- Understand foundation employment skills

- Demonstrate various skill sets

- Spark personal and interview confidence

- Prepare for workplace and employer expectations

To order a copy of My Career Passport, or for further information on the programs that support the resource, please visit:

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