Being a member of “Generation Y”, I can attest that we are often characterized as lazy, entitled, and demanding. However, many of us are desperate for work (any kind of work, I assure you) and getting it is nearly impossible. So what can a young person do? Actually, there are quite a few things, however, people either don’t know about it or don’t care to do it. While the basics are slightly targeted more to those about to begin their careers or those who are in the beginnings of it, it’s pretty applicable to any age or career stage.
1. Know how to interview (and be amazing at it)
A couple of weeks ago, a couple of friends and I were discussing our summer plans. While we all had internships lined up, one of my friends figured that people who really couldn’t get a job or an internship probably didn’t know how to write a resume. I mentioned that many don’t know how to properly interview, forgetting things like bringing a notebook to write down important information your interviewer tells you. They were all shocked at this idea. But the truth is that interviewers and employers want to see that you are engaged in the conversation you are having, because it demonstrates you can listen and that you have a strong interest in the company. It’s not all about you. Companies could care less about making you comfortable; they want you to care about the job they have for you and the actual company.
2. Write a great resume
I can’t stress this enough. If you can’t come up with a good resume, then why should an employer believe that you can write well for job assignments? A couple things you should do for a great resume:
- Don’t just list your job description. This is one of the worst things you can do. You are not the only person who has ever had that job, so tons of other people have the exact same thing as you do on your resume if you’re just putting down a description. Instead, give achievements. What did you do for your employer? How did you help the business or a client solve a problem? And always try to give numbers to back up this information. Numbers pop out on a page and give concrete information, setting you apart from other applicants.
- You should always tailor your resume for the job you are trying to get. A successful resume should get you an interview. Think of it as if you’re trying to convince someone to go out on a date with you. You don’t want them knowing that you’re trying to get dates with other people, do you? It makes them seem a lot less special if you make it obvious that you’ve got a wandering eye for anyone that will throw money at you.
- Always read it over. Then read it again. Then again. Then have two or three people read it to see how it resonates with them. You should try to make this a hobby with any kind of important piece of writing. While this should have been learned while writing all those essays in college, many of us (definitely including myself here) are guilty of not having done that. Do it now, because you literally have money (and if you’re lucky health insurance) relying on your ability to write an amazing resume.
3. Network (seriously, you have to do this)
While some people say that a resume is an employer’s first impression of you, a lot of times it’s not. If it is, that’s probably not a very good thing. Why? Because their first impression of you should be from a glowing reference that an inside employee gave about you. Heck, they might not even look at your resume! (I got my first on-the-books job like this, though I wouldn’t count on being this lucky again anytime soon). And don’t waste your time on online job boards or websites. An employer would much rather hire someone who was referenced by an employee of the company than hire an outsider. It’s less of a liability for them, because if an inside employee already knows them, employers can bet that the potential hire is not going to be a detriment to the company. While betting on the safety of a known hire doesn’t always lead to a good employee, it’s something that they’re going to keep doing.
However, networking isn’t just a gimmie game. It’s a relationship. Always be thinking about what you can do for that person. Make sure to thank them for the job lead (even if you didn’t get the job), informational interview, or whatever interaction you had with them that helped you out. It’s just proper manners, something that people should work on in and out of the working field.