The reality of the millennial’s job hunt is far less encouraging. Trawling job listings, networking your tushie off, and sending countless tailor-made résumés into the ether towards their certain fate – a huge heap of other lovingly crafted, ignored résumés.
If the latest figures are anything to go by, more people our age got into work last year than at any other time during the recession. Call us controversial, but we think it’s pretty easy to get into work if you’re willing to accept any job.
If you’re a graduate you paid £53k over three years for one thing: a career.
The latest report from Youth Employment UK prefaces the good news with the reality that challenges still remain: there’s “a lack of impartial and inspirational opportunities” available to you.
Excellent. So we’re still, in some way, victims of partiality (mostly age-related discrimination) and groups such as YEUK recognise that the kind of job opportunities which are out there for us simply aren’t inspiring. (Who would even want an inspiring job, anyway?)
Ladies like Nicki Minaj are “bossing up”. She will no longer accept pickle juice for fear of only ever drinking pickle juice. What she means is if you accept whatever you’re offered and don’t ask for more, people will think that’s what you want. You absolutely should know what you’re worth, and let other people including future employers know what you’re worth. Only accept for opportunities that put you on the right track.
However, it still brings us back to the age-old issue – the er, lack of job offers. What if you’ve not had so much as a pickle juice job offer come your way for weeks, maybe even months? It begs the question;
Q: How can I access the right opportunities?
A: Improve your employability!
If you’ve just graduated the chances are you’re not going to have loads of work experience. Many graduate job hunters see this as an immediate bar to entry, but it’s not always the biggest obstacle preventing you from landing that graduate role.
Often it can be subtler issues which are thankfully more easy to change; for instance interview technique, a lack of soft skills or a lack of direction (which is perfectly reasonable at this point in our lives…)
Lucky you – today we’ve got three tips to help you turn it around:
What’s the secret to a great interview? Knowing that interview technique comprises its own unique skill set, and making the commitment to practice.
You could be the most wonderful conversationalist and well-liked by everyone you meet, but unless you’re answering questions in a way the interviewer finds measurable (being succinct, personable and getting across the right information in the right way,) then you might struggle and not know why.
You can improve your interview technique by working on skills such as active listening which mean you truly engage the employer in conversation. You could research questions interviewers ask. You could use the STAR method. If you think interview technique might be the thing that’s holding you back, then get to researching!
Employers consistently say they consider well-rounded soft skills the most desirable quality in a potential hire. Do you know what that means?! It means employers really want to get to know you for you.
For the uninitiated, soft skills related to your behaviour; the traits that make you an effective employee. For instance are you someone who exudes calm, even under pressure? Do you find yourself falling into leadership roles, a naturally influential person? Is working as part of a large team your favourite freakin’ thing ever?
Take a step back, consider any previous situations where you’ve had tasks to complete (even university tasks). Rather than thinking about what you did, think about how you did in those situations. If you want to tell an employer how good you were at time management, researching and project management, you could talk about your dissertation; e.g. “I wrote my dissertation by structuring my time, planning the work, researching, and breaking each chapter down into manageable chunks.” Get started right-thinking with our soft skill guide.
It’s okay not to know where you’re headed. Know who you are, instead.
As Baz Luhrmann said in “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)”; “The most interesting people I know didn’t know aged 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.”
How’s that going to help you get a job? Well, knowing your strengths and weaknesses, what value you add to a workforce, and what you are and aren’t prepared to compromise on can be a great asset. This is particularly true in an interview situation, and even prior to interview when you’re preparing your résumé.
It’s all part of a process of building a personal brand. Figuring out what your principles are and measuring each decision against that set of values won’t help you know where to go, but it will help you take decisions that are best for who you are. That way, you’re more likely to end up where you’re supposed to be. There’s an in-depth discussion of this idea in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which is available online as a free PDF.
The economy’s possibly improving, or it isn’t. Depends which way the wind’s blowing and who’s reading out the figures. There are possibly more jobs, but fewer inspiring career opportunities available to people our age.
We all need to accept what we can’t change, and do everything within our powers to positively affect the areas of life that we can change. While you learn a lot in any work situation, progressing along the wrong career path because it’s what was available at the time sets you back by roughly the exact amount of time you spend waiting for a better opportunity to come along!
Stay proactive, stay positive and do everything you can to give yourself the best chance of success.
On that note of staying proactive.. if you want to learn how to network your way around a room like a true pro – check out this article Networking Tips for Graduates & First Timers