It’s no secret that finding a job is a lot more of a challenge than it used to be. Our generation has been deemed “jobless” with a 7% rate of unemployment for Canadian youth. There are several political and financial reasons behind this statistic, but I would like to speak a little more personally to the matter.
On a positive note, many of us are fortunate enough to receive a college or university education and often post-graduate degree amongst other qualifying exams and courses, which [in theory] is a wonderful privilege. However, employers nowadays are often deterred by these credentials because the more educated and experienced you are, the more expensive you are. On top of that, if you have several types of degrees, diplomas, and certifications you are viewed as less capable of being “molded” into the type of employee they are willing to invest in. When I was first out of school and looking for a job, I learnt that you have a better chance of getting hired when you have less experience, as your potential employer views you as a clean slate and someone who can be trained to the company’s advantage (with less likeliness to come along with bad habits and higher expectations – after all, you’re lucky to have a job in the first place).
I’m not trying to discourage any job-searchers reading this. Aside from the unfortunate facts, we are also a very ambitious generation. The majority of us did not grow up with the same disadvantages that our parents did, and we have been raised to believe that we can accomplish anything to which we apply ourselves. We are a generation of entrepreneurs, so much so that the 2014 federal budget allocates financial support of mentoring young businessmen and women.
I have recently moved jobs within my industry and learned a lot throughout the search process. It is stressful and time consuming no doubt, so here are my tips for finding, and hopefully getting a job:
Network. In a time of enhanced social media and everyone having connections to each other, it is important to take advantage and – when looking for a job – speak to as many people as you can (with discretion). For example, if you are looking for a job in the entertainment industry, email your friend’s dad’s business partner’s son who works for an agency you’d love to be a part of that you had a conversation with once. The worst case scenario is that you never hear back from him, or that he is unable to help you. The best: he will keep you in mind and you will be the first candidate when the right opportunity comes up. Both my first and current full-time job interviews were set up through doing exactly this. The most important thing to remember is that it doesn’t hurt to reach out.
Apply. We should consider ourselves lucky that almost everything and anything can be done at our fingertips on the computer. When I was looking for jobs, I spent the majority of my free time on the internet, applying countless times on different employment and company websites. My resume is now in god-knows how many hands, and you’d be surprised how many phone calls I got from these applications. Again, if it interests you, it doesn’t hurt. The worst case scenario is that you don’t hear from them.
Do your research. When (and yes I say when with confidence) you land an interview, this is the first thing you should do to prepare. One out of the several interviews I had during my search caught me very much off guard. I went in having read little about the company and thus highly unprepared, and it was, unsurprisingly, the worst job interview I have ever had. I actually thought to myself when I left that they would have been stupid to hire me. I realized that I didn’t really want the job to begin with, which was why I didn’t prepare, but the way I felt after that interview wasn’t something I wanted to get used to. However, in the many other interviews that I did prepare for, interviewers were evidently impressed when I could reiterate information that I knew about the company and/or product. Before you go in for an interview, research the history of the organization, founder/founding team, and the company’s primary objective. It doesn’t hurt to Google the person interviewing you or look them up on LinkedIn either. Basically, the more you can tell them about themselves and their company, the more impressed they will be with you.
Think. Once you have interviewed for a job and have a feel as to whether or not you will receive an offer, think about if the position is really for you (note: this is of course only applies to people who are either already employed or unemployed but not experiencing financial pressure or stress). You wouldn’t want to go through the process of signing an employment contract and then one or two months later, realizing that it would have been really helpful had you read the job description properly when applying. Some people become too entrenched in the company name or the job title that they actually forget to disect what their day-to-day responsibilities would be if they get hired. The reason this step comes after the interview process is because when job searching, I encourage people to go to every interview they are offered. There is no harm in feeling out the dynamic and then deciding if the position and the environment is one that you want to be a part of.
Follow Up. Once you have interviewed and decided that you want the job, send out a short and straight-to-the-point email to whoever it is at the company you have been in contact with. This will show that you are still interested in the position and eager to receive a second interview or an offer. Even if you don’t get a response, you have reminded your potential employer that you are excited about the opportunity while simultaneously showing them that you are accountable for following up in business situations.
Remember that any job search regardless of age, education, or experience is a challenge and often disheartening. The best advice anyone could give you is to do everything in your human power to find the position that is right for you, and go after it. Don’t stop looking just because you don’t hear back or get rejected by one or two companies, and don’t stay in a job where you’re unhappy just because you don’t know where to start searching for new ones. You have all the tools you need in your head and within your reach. Good luck!
*image courtesy of livescience.com