Tips for the Young & Jobless
At the conclusion of this series, I’ll lay out what I think public policy can do to ease the problem of the young and jobless. That’s the big picture.
But on an individual level, every young adult and parent I speak to asks me a simple question. What’s your best advice for me or my kid? Indeed, I’ve pondered what I would tell my own teenager or twentysomething if I had one.
Here’s what I would say, in no particular order.
• Check out Alberta and Saskatchewan. Their economies are booming. The unemployment rate is low. The demand for workers is high. Do your homework before you pull up stakes, but don’t be afraid to move to find work.
• Don’t wait on the sidelines for the perfect job. You can learn something from every job. Besides, what seems perfect may turn out not to be. And what seems like a so-so job may surprise you, or open the door to something better.
• Don’t get hung up on the status of a particular occupation. There is satisfaction in doing any job well, however humble it is. Your employer will usually notice your pride in the work. And this may open up opportunities.
• Broaden your life experience. Employers value that. It speaks to maturity and perspective. Consider taking a gap year. Research shows that it doesn’t hurt your chances of finding work, as long as you return to post-secondary education. Volunteer. Get out of your comfort zone. All this will build your confidence.
• Don’t rely solely on advertised postings for your job search. Sixty-five per cent of Canadians report that the “hidden job market” was important in their finding employment. The hidden job market refers to job openings that are never advertised, but are filled internally, or through the employer’s family, friends or contacts. Bottom line: to find work, network. Do independent research and summon the courage to make cold calls to prospective employers.
• Learn the basic principles of marketing. In a job search, ask yourself, “How can I add value to my prospective employer? What do they need?” Appeal to the self-interest of the person you want something from. Remember, it’s not about pleasing you. It’s about pleasing them.
• Ask a professional. Consulting a career-development professional can help you clarify your options, improve your job search skills and focus your goals.
• Don’t fret about your friends’ and parents’ opinions. Listen to them, but in the end, remember, it’s your life.
• If you are shopping for a college or university program, look for one with a co-op work experience component. You will graduate further ahead because you have on-the-job training and the beginnings of a network of contacts.