You may have heard it’s kind of hard to get a job in the current economy. Well, according to a recent PEW Research Center study 41% of the public believes that’s truest for young adults—and the study states, “An analysis of government economic data suggests that this perception is correct.”
As a result, more and more of our peers are putting off life decisions, including getting married (20% have held off) and having a baby (22%). And one-in-four 18- to 34-year-olds say they have moved back in with their parents after living on their own.
It’s also leading to a shift in expectations. Whereas in 1993 when Newsweek asked parents with young children what age they expected those children to be financial independent, 80% of parents said by age 22. Today, only 67% hold that view and 31% say children shouldn’t have to be financial independent until age 25 or later.
You already knew it was rough out there in the job market; you already knew more of your friends seem broke than your elder siblings were at that age; you already know (maybe first hand) that people are graduating college just to move back home. I don’t think there’s a single member of our generation out there who isn’t acquainted with these facts, and while it’s nice to know there’s data to back up our anecdotal evidence being able to achieve your goals (which is what Moxy is all about) is about not becoming a statistic. Below is a round up of links (and advice) to help you avoid exactly that.
Rewrite Your Resume
It may be hard to land a job in the current market, but it’s not impossible. As Jenny Foss (aka Job Jenny) discussed in a recent blog post titled, “Proof: Job Seekers Who Did It” one of the keys is to create an incredibly targeted resume, geared specifically to help you get the job you want. You want it to speak directly to hiring managers within your target industry.
If you haven’t gotten the responses you want (that is, interviews), put your resume away for a few minutes and think instead about the job(s) your applying for. Maybe even pull up few ads for jobs you’d love to land. Now consider: what skills would you need to excel in that position? What skills do the ads mention specifically? Make a list.
Then pull your resume back out. Is there a bullet point on your resume that demonstrates each of those skills? If not, think about things you’ve done that demonstrate you have those skills. Rewrite your bullet points to demonstrate that (here are some rules that will help).
Once you’re done ask a friend, family member or a 5th grader if they can connect which items on list A (your resume) match with which items on list B (the skills you need).
Grow Your Network: Volunteer
What’s more impressive: “Hi, My name is Betty and I’m looking for a job in marketing.” Or: “Hi, My name is Betty. I’ve been volunteering at the local animal shelter helping them reach out to families looking to bring a new pet into their home. In the process, I’ve adopted out 50 animals and discovered that I love connecting organizations with the people who need their services; so I’m looking for a job in marketing.”
I’m betting you picked the 2nd one. Which goes to show why, if you want to stand out in today’s job market you should volunteer. Megan Findlay wrote about how Volunteering = Career Development recent over on Ms. Career Girl and her tips on how to get the most out of volunteering are spot on.
Volunteering is a great way to get some talking points that demonstrate your skills, including the fact that you’re a go-getter, while also growing your network (because you’re bound to meet new people while volunteering). The trick is learning how to talk about these things in the right way and how to use those contacts to help you when it comes to the job search.
Remember that list of skills we wrote up? Well refer back to it now. If there are any skills you couldn’t easily demonstrate, consider looking for volunteer opportunities where you can prove you’re capable.
While it may be obnoxious (or come across as whining) to tell your great aunt that you’re job seeking, it’s fun to share how you’re implementing the things you learned in school to benefit homeless dogs and cats—for the writers out there, it’s a way to “show” instead of “tell.”
Rock Your Interview
You probably know to do some general research about each company you’re applying to when writing your cover letter; well once you’ve landed the interview, it’s time to go all out. Search Google, Linkedin, twitter and anything else you can think of for references to the company. If the interview is a few days off, consider setting a google alert with its name. Read customer reviews, company reports and the latest press releases.
Use these things to get a better idea what skills, specifically, the company needs and how you can help it improve. Go prepared with a “I can do THIS for you” statement. Is the job an assistant to the CEO? Be prepared to explain how you can help with the specific projects she’s working on.
An interviewer is bound to be impressed when you demonstrate knowledge of upcoming projects and company goals—but more importantly, being conversant in the things your interviewer is most comfortable talking about is sure to put them at ease and help them like you (just be careful not to demonstrate TOO much personal knowledge—that might be a tad creepy).
Then you should start preparing for the interview itself. Read over some common interview questions and prep your answers in a way that demonstrates the skills that company will value most, using the SEER strategy (explained in Answering Interview Questions Effectively, by Six Sigma Online): Summary, Elaboration, Example, Restatement.
From there, it’s just the basics. Dress up (better to be over dressed than under dressed). Brush your teeth right before the interview (to ensure good breath AND that there’s nothing in your teeth). Show up early. And rock that interview.