Last week, I wrote about the awful interviews millennials were responsible for being involved in. While I scolded the authors of the piece for painting all millennials with the same brush, it’s also undeniable, that many members of Gen Y need help when it comes to finding work. The job market now, is more tough and competitive than ever before. Everyone could use a little edge in their job search. Millennials face the additional challenge of not having years of experience under their belts. So here’s some tips from an employed, professional millennial, on how to get the job of your dreams.
Stop Looking for Jobs, Start Looking for Work
When people are on the hunt for a new job, they tend to have a fairly specific, ideal situation in mind. Maybe it’s a cushy, full-time, office job with regular hours and full benefits. Or maybe you have an exciting, and fulfilling position at a non-profit in mind. While neither of these positions are unobtainable by any means, they are bound to be a heck of a lot more competitive than many other open positions.
You know where I have found both of my current jobs? The craigslist gigs section. While many people stare at me, jaw agape when I tell them that, it’s one hundred percent true. I’m an independent contractor. While these “gigs” were only part-time, freelance work initially, my positions grew with me over time, turning into full-time, work-at-home, dream jobs. This day and age, the more unorthodox the route you go to get work, the better. So quit scouring Monster and Careerbuilder for the perfect job, and start looking for people who have work for you. While it may seem inconsequential, and not ideal, it may turn into something better than you could have even imagined.
Master Your Professional Online Presence
So you have a Tumblr with a thousand followers where you share pictures of sloths and kitties. That’s great, and could possibly even be used to leverage a social media savvy position. Possibly, but probably not. Unless you’re going to work for a sloth meme generating company, employers are going to want to see a more composed, professionally relevant, online presence to be impressed enough to interview, and eventually hire you. Mastering your online presence doesn’t have to mean being inauthentic, or sterile online, it just means putting some effort into conjuring a professional image of yourself.
The first step in securing an effective online presence, is the Google search. Now if your name is Jennifer Johnson, it’s not going to be very easy, but it’s also not impossible. Try using a middle name on all professional profiles, to make your name more unique. Also be sure to include keywords about yourself in these profiles. Location, profession, and skills are all keywords to include to make yourself stand out. For example: Jennifer Kathleen Johnson, PR Professional, in Bismarck, ND. A few specifics can take you out of internet obscurity, and help you launch a vibrant online portfolio.
As for professional profiles, there are some must-haves. Make a Linkedin profile, or update the one you have to highlight accomplishments, and skills. Google Plus is becoming very important for young professionals also. Be sure these are updated, and show the most professional images of yourself possible. If you have a Facebook where you post less than professional information about yourself, make sure your privacy settings are as tight as possible (a public email address can be a killer), and if you are intent on keeping it, consider changing your name so it won’t show up in a Google search of yourself.
In all honesty, I have two Facebook profiles, one for my professional endeavors, and another for my weird college friends where I have a fake name, and no real pictures of myself. Interestingly enough, I use both to promote my work from time to time, so it’s actually useful for me. If you Google search my name, the first thing to pop up is my Linkedin, then my Google plus, (both are very professional) then after that it’s blog posts I’ve done. Which is another great way to cultivate an online presence, relevant, professional blog posts. Oh, and that sloth Tumblr of yours? Go ahead and keep it, but, depending on your line of work, just don’t have your real name attached to it.
Put Down your Smart Phone, Tablet, and Laptop, and Learn to Talk In Person
One big complaint about millennials, is our utter lack of in-person communication skills. Turns out raising kids on Napster and Nickelodeon has made for a generation of painfully awkward twenty and thirty somethings who have taken bombing interviews to a whole new level. Not everyone in Gen Y is this way, but enough are that a few basic in-person skills need to be addressed.
When applying for a job in-person, or interviewing, look the person in charge, and everyone, in the eye. Eye contact is a crucial in-person social skill that many employers complain millennials lack. Also, allow the person to talk, listen carefully, but also interject when necessary. When someone asks you your biggest flaw in an interview (which pretty much everyone does) don’t stutter and say nothing. You know this question is going to be asked, so have something prepared. I always say I’m a procrastinator. It’s the truth, and it’s a flaw many employers can relate to. I also make sure to point out that I have no trouble meeting deadlines, but I often wait a little too long to get started. If you know you get nervous, practice. Print out a list of common interview questions, and have a friend or family member ask you them.
Get up, Get out, and Get SOMETHING
The fact is, in a tough job market, sometimes you’re not going to get your dream job. As long as you’re receiving a paycheck however, you’re helping yourself get to the next level of your life, and that’s what’s important. So get creative in your search, make yourself stand out as a candidate, and make sure your social skills are tuned up, and you shouldn’t have trouble finding work. It may not be exactly what you imagined, but it may turn out to be something better than you could have dreamed.