Millennials in this economy are finding it hard to land a job interview let alone a job! As this growing population of educated tech savvy individuals (born between 1980 and 1995) come into the job market, they are finding that not only are there fewer jobs available, but that employers seem to becoming ever more demanding about what they are looking for in candidates. “Employers all say they want at least one or more years of experience for a job that is supposed to be for someone right out of college?!” , says blog.Simplyhired.com. I can say from personal experience that this is no joke! After graduating in 2009 with a double major I looked around for an entry level position for over two years. During those two years I worked as a barista and held contract roles to stay viable in the job market, and I am not the only one.
This year College grads under age 25 face an 8.8% unemployment rate, and of those who do have jobs, more than half work in positions that don't require a bachelor's degree. If you are thinking “I don’t want this to happen to me” or “what can I do to help my chances of landing a good job” Here are a few things I have learned through personal experience that I wish I knew before I graduated...hopefully you will find them helpful.
Gain experience ASAP!
Work in your field of study long before you graduate!
Keep in mind that only 16% of graduating seniors say they have a job waiting for them, which increases the importance of standing out to employers. Since most undergraduate students study for an average of 4 years, they have all that time to gain experience outside of the classroom.
Here are 3 options that I would recommend:
- Internships/Co-Ops: Since employers want 1+ years of experience for entry level positions these days, make sure that you do everything you need to do so you have what they want! Gaining experience through internships/Co-Ops is more often than not the best way to give you valuable experience prior to graduation. Also, keep in mind that a single 3 month internship may not be enough to impress future employers, so, try to do a new Internship/Co-Op each year. Not only do these look great on a resume, but you will get a better sense of the career path that you want to go down while being in a supportive environment.
- Volunteer! Many non-profit and national organizations need volunteers year round. This is a fun and alternative way to gain new skill sets and meet new people. These opportunities can be found through websites such as BostonCares and Volunteermatch.org and more often than not double as networking events, which can lead to internships or career opportunities.
- Work Contract/Temporary assignments. Most organizations that use temporary help have at least a few openings that will be filled by current college students. These short-term assignments are perfect if you need a little extra cash while gaining valuable experience. While you may not find a position in your chosen field, you will be given the opportunity to see how many different companies operate and see what the “real world” has to offer.
All of these options allow you to gain experience and stand out in the job market. Overall, most companies appreciate the value of strong internships, volunteer work and temporary assignments; in some cases even count them collectively as years of experience.
Avoid the Job Hopping Curse
So you finally landed a full time professional job, Congrats!
As Millennials we have the reputation for changing jobs multiple times within the first few years of joining the workforce. According to CareerBuilder 81 percent of Millennials are either actively searching for new jobs or are open to new opportunities, regardless of their current employment status. My advice is to try to avoid the temptation! Hold onto your new position for as long as you can. Keep in mind, recruiters look at resumes all day long; seriously think about it! What would look better to you, a person that has jumped around to a new job every 3-6 months or a person that has been established in one job for more than a year or two?
Also, get beyond the “Me First” attitude that defines our generation and look at the job market from the company’s perspective. What do companies want from you? Why are you a good investment for them? Companies want to know that they will receive a good return on their investment after they hire you, which usually means that you need to stick around for a while. Employers will hesitate to consider you for an opening, if your job history shows a trend of switching job’s within the first year or two.
Stay Busy: No Gaps in time
I know that job hunting at times can be incredibly discouraging, but the best way to keep yourself fresh and constantly motivated is to do something! Like many Millennials who were raised by doting parents who told them they are special, we as a generation often expect the perfect job to come to us, but in this economy that simply won’t happen! Think instead of what you need to accomplish to get yourself positioned to “be the obvious choice” the next time that perfect opportunity presents itself.
Staying in the job market is essential, displaying the motivation to always keep busy and move forward speaks very highly of a potential employee to employers. Employers like to see that you have been continuously motivated and moving forward in your career search; it shows employers that you’re more likely to work hard for them, and that you will value the opportunity.
Work it! Go Social!
Everyone is connected these days through social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Although many in our generation only think social media platforms are only for well, being social, these tools are being used more and more often by recruiters and employers to advertise new opportunities and look for talent. Being involved in all aspects of social media and branding yourself appropriately will allow you to become more viable to employers. This being said, be smart! Think about what your social media profiles say about you, and keep in mind that the internet is written in ink and not pencil!
Also, chances are that you are already connected with someone who can help you in your job search; a classmate, professor, ex-coworker, etc. Don’t be afraid to reach out to these contacts! Although they might not have anything for you at the moment, they are more likely to keep a look out if something does open, or put in a word for you with their HR department.
As Millennials we have the potential to be “The Next Greatest Generation”, so how do we get there? Although these tips will enable you to look more appealing to employers, it really is up to you and what you put into your career search. I can say from my experience in this economy that it is important to never lose sight of what you really want and continuously strive to get it!
What will you do next?