By Shea Ki
Why does it feel like employers that you really want to work for won't take a chance on you?
Convincing employers to take on someone with less work experience seems to be a bigger battle than ever before, as seen in this recent article where an employer confesses:
“We won’t offer part time jobs for students or entry level into our industry, you will only be able to work here coming in with a complete skill set. So that sucks all around.”
It kind of makes giving up after turning in dozens of applications for a better job more tempting, doesn't it?
I see that the federal government data shows unemployment statistics in the United States slightly improving overall (and have been holding steady the past few summers), but in front of me I also see many clients who are living a different story.
Employment data is showing slight progress for young adults, but it is likely your bank account might not feel it.
Instead of tossing in the towel by settling for a job that does not align with your interests, I invite you to be part of the change. Maybe you are not up for marching in the YOUNG-ADULTS-WILL-HELP-YOUR-COMPANY-GROW parade like me (with neon lights and loud cheering), but you can do your part. I'm counting on it. Getting a positive early start in a job that fits your strengths is key to our future workforce having more competent leaders and talented problem solvers.
As more young adults PREPARE, PRACTICE, AND PROMOTE themselves professionally for the job interview, employers will take notice. Here are three steps you can take to help employers see your value:
1) Read up, watch others, and PRACTICE. The next time you have 10-15 minutes, begin with reading this four part mini-series that I was asked to write for Youth Time. Take another 15 minutes to watch the snag-a-job.com series on interviewing skills. If you are new to interviewing and speaking English, it's worth about 11 minutes to watch this video that already has over 1 million videos and is packed with basic do's and do not's for impressing the employer.
However, nothing you watch or read will boost your performance in the hot seat as much as putting everything you have learned about interviewing into practice. It's one thing to know in your head what makes a good first impression and another to be able to pull it off in front of employers. The only way to close the gap is to have practice sessions that feel as close to a real job interview as possible.
2) Be willing to make mistakes and learn from them. Before you could walk, you had to fall over and over and over yet again. Interviewing is also a life skill that gets better over time. Messing up in front of others actually is the quickest way to get closer to giving a better impression if you learn what to improve.
Find someone who will give you objective, USEFUL feedback about how you are answering questions for employers. You would not show up to play at a concert, kick butt in a sports game, or take a standardized test without practicing what the teacher or coach advised. A job interview demands your same 110% preparation, consistent effort, and guidance from someone who already is a pro.
3) Commit to discovering and sharing your value. Employers have sometimes been burned when they bring on board less experienced workers. However, while managing and developing youth employment programs for over 10 years, I saw hundreds of positive experiences where teens and young adults helped companies expand their reach and be more efficient everyday. Sadly, those are not the stories that go viral in the news such as the teen employee that had a major melt down at McDonald's.
There is good news. More employers are starting to see the benefits of hiring teens and young adults and you can help that continue.
Do you know how your talents and skills will help the company you want to work for and are you able to clearly explain that fit?
Every time you show up to a job interview confidently sharing your value, the business world sees that young people are serious about becoming leaders in the workforce.
Employers who know what is best for their bottom line will hire teens and young adults for their increasing track record of solving problems creatively, handling responsibility, and dealing with pressure in healthy ways.
Your turn: Share in the comments below this post why you think it is hard to get a job that fits your interests in the workforce today.
Most of all, believe in you.