The movie, "True Grit" starring John Wayne, was the topic of discussion at my home this past weekend. My college freshman informed me he had not seen it. I was bewildered! Surely, he had been exposed to this unforgettable classic! Before describing the premise of the movie, I decided to explore the term ‘true grit’ with him. He offered the definition of "real toughness," and that was something I, as a mother and career coach, was proud to work with.
As our conversation continued, I asked how he arrived at his definition of grit because neither his father nor I had ever actually used the term. He responded that to him, the phrase implied toughness. So I asked how he would apply that to employment. He said: It's when someone sticks with something no matter what. (Me: Ding! Critical thinking was on the scene.)
After explaining that the definition of grit was the perseverance of long-term goals and continuing on despite setbacks, I wanted to know if he thought he had recognized grit anywhere. He had. He'd recognized true grit in his mom and dad. (Me: Awww!) The ability to further our education while maintaining full-time jobs were an example for him. He watched us do it, so he felt he could do the same. It contributed to his being able to work the last two years during high school and his first year of college. (Me: YAY!) We went on to explore other examples of grit, such as fire fighters trying to extinguish a fire or a paramedic who works to save a life. At the end of our conversation I walked away feeling confident that he fully understood what grit was and how important it is to have it. I was even more impressed later on when he shouted: Let's watch the movie!
Our talk made me wonder whether other students could articulate the definition of grit. Every student seeking employment must have the ability to communicate, as well as demonstrate, how grit is reflected in their everyday lives. Employers want assurances that recent graduates come prepared with gritty tendencies that will transition into a solid work ethic to benefit their organizations. In my opinion, any student that completes a degree demonstrates they have grit, but how can an employer be sure it is really there? Well, it could be communicated during an interview, but one would have to be selected for that so, it really comes down to the resume. One solution for resume writers is the recent trend of badge acquisition. Some companies offer ways for employees and job seekers to obtain a mini certification called a badge that demonstrates a job seeker has completed hours of specialized training toward specific career competencies.
While the expectation of examples of grit are increasingly on the rise, a student or graduate who can offer concrete examples of grit (and other employer desired abilities) could gain an advantage in a pool of qualified candidates. So, I am encouraging my own college freshman, along with students and recent graduates, to invest the time it takes to achieve competency badges. Sites such as LinkedIn or companies like Pearson are platforms that connect to, or directly offer opportunities to achieve badges that can be embedded into a resume for immediate employer accessibility. Though the process may require some additional time, it is a worthy investment to explore by serious job seekers. To them I say: Prove you've got what it takes to land the job you want and have another helping of grit, please…true grit!
Of course, it wouldn't hurt to see the movie along the way.