Job Hunting Advice for ‘Stressed Out’ Millennials
Updated : July 22nd, 2015
According to a recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) millennials are officially the most stressed out generation in the United States. Also known as Generation Y, millennials are those of us who reached adulthood around the beginning of this century. Now recognized by no less than the White House as the largest and most diverse generation within the American population, this significant societal group has certainly had a lot of hard knocks to contend with, particularly on the jobs front. With many millennials entering the workforce around 2008 when employment was at historically low levels, the challenges have come thick and fast for this group.
The unemployment rate for millennials is currently some 9.1 percent, jumping to 14 percent when those who have quite simply given up looking for work are included. Choices about whether to go back to school or accept being underemployed, coupled with the resultant financial pressures due to student debt and cost of living demands have driven many millennials to feel stressed out and isolated. Yet with recent statistics showing that 280,000 new jobs were added to the economy during May alone, perhaps now is the ideal time for millennials to reinvigorate their mission to get onto or move up the career ladder.
The US economic expansion may be back on track but it didn’t get there without concerted effort and the same will be true for millennial job searching. Having spent years well down the field in the race for jobs getting back in the game will be a challenge. Here are a few areas to attend to if you want to get a head start on the competition:
Make your search app-tastic- There are virtually limitless possibilities when it comes to recruitment apps so it is essential to target your participation to those aligned with your job search requirements. Be selective and focus on apps which have been designed with millennials in mind. Current examples include CareerSushi and Collegefeed. Recently acquired by AfterCollege, a platform for entry-level jobs and internships, Collegefeed in particular, is based on a social network style of interaction developed to appeal to millennials and recent graduates. Depending on your specific industry and career objectives it may also be possible to hone your app usage even more. For those keen to get involved with start-up companies, for example, Planted (previously known as Lynxsy) is a great choice. It was set up specifically to help non-technical millennials engage with potential fledgling employers. In their first year of operation over 12,000 jobseekers have already used the site and over 200 candidates have secured jobs.
Leverage networks- Today’s world is full of networks – from physical contacts to social platforms so make the most of them. Not all job opportunities are formally advertised – some are snapped up before they get to this stage. Reach out to mutual friends and people you know on a professional basis to help get you ahead of the pack. Also, use networks such as LinkedIn to make contact with companies and recruiters you are interested in – taking the time to write a quick email outlining your skills and experience and asking them for feedback could pay dividends. Industry specific networks also exist which allow targeted contacts based on your particular area. These include Doximity (for healthcare professionals), Kaggle (for data scientists) and GrabCAD (for mechanical engineers).
Target and tailor- Mass resumes and blanket cover letters are a definite job hunting no-no. The chances of success will be greatly enhanced if you take the time to target your search and then tailor your applications accordingly. Spamming employers with generic approaches is counterproductive yet candidates often go down this route believing that the more irons they have in the recruitment fire, the better. Carefully consider the match between your qualifications, skills and experience and those required by possible employers. Whether the post is advertised or your approach is speculative, it is important to demonstrate that you have thoroughly researched the company and believe you are a fit for their needs. Adopting a scatter gun approach with a universal resume is as one recruiter observed, as likely to be successful as playing with a Frisbee in a hurricane.
Prioritize preparation- Once you have a specific lead in mind, it’s time for some in-depth research. Investing time and effort in finding out everything possible about the recruiting company is what sets the dynamic, dedicated prospective employee apart from his lazy, laid-back counterpart. Start off by studying the company’s mission, vision and values. The company website is a great place for this type of information but goes the extra mile by supplementing with insights from their presence on platforms such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor. Next, get as much information as possible about the people leading the company. Read their profiles and media reports to really get inside the psyche of the operation. This will help you tailor your interview style to connect with the panel. Commercial press reports and specialist publications are also an important place to look for information about the company’s position within its particular industry and sector. Get a flavor of how things are going and how they are regarded by industry experts and competitors. Finally, look to the future and find out as much as is publicly available about the company’s strategic direction. This will help you paint a picture of the part you could play in achieving their future goals.
Sanitize your social media presence- One of the biggest challenges for the millennial generation compared to those who came before them is social media. While platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram have no doubt revolutionized how people communicate and mostly for the better, there is an obvious downside when it comes to job hunting. People have always made mistakes and done stupid things. In years gone by though, these deeds have soon been forgotten. Nowadays, thanks to social media and the ever-present camera phone, many people find that when they misbehave others are quick to snap and share evidence of their blunders with the rest of the world. Some people even add pictures of such incidents to their profiles themselves, keen to show their friends what they have been up to. This is all great fun until you think about the potential impact on employment prospects. If you are undertaking a serious job-hunt you need to scrub up your social media presence – as far and as wide as possible. Otherwise, everything you can see could also conceivably be viewed by your future boss.
Look the part- Cultivating the ideal online profile is important but so is creating the right impression in the flesh. Being out of the job market for an extended period or working in a lower grade job can cause a degree of dress code amnesia in some job seekers. Sloppy and overly sexy are two styles best avoided at interview – neither look will send the right message. Choose your clothing carefully ensuring it supports your message to the employer that you are professional and ready to work. Ideally wear a suit and definitely leave t-shirts, mini-skirts and shorts at home. Remember that your clothes are only part of the package when it comes to an appearance at interview – positive body language and an abundance of confidence are also vital.
Addressing all these issues will get your job search off to a flying start but if it does take the time to gain employment don’t give up. An old Japanese proverb tells us,
“Fall seven times, stand up eight.”
Perseverance and resilience will get you your dream job in the end.