“We have decided to move forward with our search for the right candidate.” That brief moment of disappointment in reading yet another discouraging email from a potential employer is a familiar feeling for the average YA learning to climb the ladder of the American job market. We’ve all been there, sitting in silence, perusing a scantily decorated resume and wavering between feelings of self-reassurance and disillusionment.
We will keep your resume on file.
The sense of inadequacy that has developed in the present generation of young adults entering the job market is the biggest problem we face as a perfectly capable but inexperienced workforce. Modern students are graduating from universities with a myriad of advantageous degrees, yet they leave college campuses unequipped with real-life skills to establish themselves in the career path they want to pursue. The question for this problem, then, is how do we gain the experience needed to earn an opportunity to use our college education?
Any freshman level Economics course that touches on the history of unemployment rates and job market trends can lead a student to ask themselves where they are on the spectrum. If previous periods of America’s economic health have told us anything about experience in relation to employment, it is that the decaying sustainability of blue collar jobs, the increase in availability of higher education and the outsourcing of jobs are all contributing factors in the widening gap between education and application of skills. Perhaps thirty years ago the average 18-year-old student in Midwest America could support themselves on the income of a part time job flipping burgers, but not today.
In an age of profound technological advancement, scientific discovery and a reconsideration of American values, the latter half of the twentieth century ushered in a new labor force behavior that would prove problematic to young people seeking to climb the corporate ladder.
“Due to the volume of applications please allow up to 90 days for a response.”
Several changes have dramatically altered the condition of the American workforce in the last few decades: the decreasing number of individuals exiting the workforce, the outsourcing of U.S. jobs to foreign nations and the devaluing of higher education have created an oversaturation of qualified candidates in middle and working-class job market.
With recent medical advancements in the sphere of public health and disease control, the American population can enjoy longer, healthier lifespans. More and more individuals belonging to previous generations remain in the workforce beyond the traditional age of retirement, making it more difficult for young college graduates with newer worldviews to replace these roles in the professional world.
The value of education has changed dramatically since the beginning of the second half of the twentieth century, with an enormous spike in the number of students attending college and obtaining degrees. That higher education has lost its marketing value over recent decades is no secret. With a wealth of qualified, degree-holding individuals, the job market has become an increasingly difficult place to sell oneself above all the others.
“Please attach a resume with a portfolio and at least three professional references.”
What, then, does a freshly graduated young adult do to adapt to the ever-changing job market and decreasing value of baccalaureate degrees? How do we address the conundrum of needing experience in the first place in order to gain experience?
The key to getting your foot on the first rung of that ladder is learning to undersell yourself until you figure out your own value. We’ve all had those days where we wanted to walk out of that fast food joint or retail outlet and burn the building down, but we stayed and showed up every day after. It’s okay to feel like you’re unsure of your own potential while taking drive-thru orders or folding clothes. You have it; you’re just figuring out how to use it.
Climbing the job ladder requires tenacity and resourcefulness. A few certain ways to prove that potential in transitioning from college life to the professional world are through networking, technology, online job search and presentation. Gaining experience begins with highlighting the skills you already have and knowing how to portray yourself.
Oh man. This is important. Acquainting yourself with coworkers and other people within the industry of your preference is essential in hearing about new job opportunities and professional references. The more people you know, the more doors there are to open.
With technological advances ranging from comprehensive editing software to social media tools, there is a litany of ways to take advantage of the digital industry.
Marketing yourself through online job boards and career advice forums is a necessary process in the search for landing the job you want. A well put-together profile can make for an attractive first impression to employers, and it looks great on a resume!
Your ability to build a comprehensive and effective profile also shows employers that you can organize and apply your employment history and skills to new opportunities.
How you portray yourself to potential employers is vital in making a good impression. Think beyond the appropriateness of your outfit and present yourself through different outlets.
Find yourself a camera, or someone with one, and take a few flattering headshots. An online portfolio or a personal website that can emphasize your potential to be the right candidate is another great way to present yourself.