Two of the biggest issues I have come across are that many young people expect to be given whatever they want and they demand instant success. In reality neither of these outcomes are likely but the media continues to push an instant everything, buy now pay later culture which many young people have been brought up to believe is reality.
Employers know that young people can provide them with the raw materials they need to grow their businesses but don’t like cockiness, over-confidence and “the world owes me” attitudes which makes them reluctant to spend the time, effort and money in training and development.
In addition, young people need to step away from the “instant success – instant gratification” culture encouraged by the media and advertisers and realise that success comes from providing genuine value to others along with hard, hard work!
With this in mind here are 10 top tips if you are a young person looking to find work:
1. Plan What You Want
If you want to get from where you are right now to your favourite holiday destination you have to plan your journey. If you don’t know where you want to go you can’t possibly know how to get there and you can’t plan your route.
Life is exactly the same.
If you know where you want to be in the next few weeks, months or even years then you can plan the steps necessary to get there, you can then take action and move yourself in the right direction. Life might throw you off track or provide unexpected options from time-to-time but ultimately it is those who know what we want and take massive action to get there that will achieve our desired results.
If you don’t know where you want to be it is impossible to plan your journey and you will wander around aimlessly and end up doing anything just for the sake of it – and you will likely do this for the rest of your career!
So spend time thinking about what you want to do with your life, what your ambitions are, and what you truly desire. Remember as well that money should not be the goal. Money is the result of success; success is not the result of money.
One of the best ways to approach finding work is to look at getting a job AS a job. Work hard and consistently at finding work, learn what you need to learn, do what you need to do to get yourself ready for work – preparation is essential to success.
Focus your efforts every single day – get up early and get ready as if you already have a job. Spend time each day thinking about your “job”, research potential employers, search for vacancies, find out what skills and qualifications are being sought for the types of role you are looking for, hone your CV, apply for jobs, seek feedback on your applications, learn from the feedback and repeat the process applying what you have learned.
Don’t allow yourself to become disheartened – persistence is key, remember that success is permanent but failure is only temporary.
3. Get Your CV in Order
Your CV is your sales brochure. It needs to project the right image but you only have 30 seconds to impress. It is therefore essential that you put as much care and attention into it as possible. It should be neatly typed, easy to read and navigate, have clear sections including “Work Experience”, “Education”, “Qualifications” and a description of you as a person.
It is absolutely VITAL that your CV does not contain spelling mistakes (there’s no excuse in this day and age with spell checking software) and that your grammar, punctuation and language are all correct.
If you struggle with your writing get some help because you only have 1 chance for your CV to impress and even small errors will put off the majority of employers looking at potentially hundreds of CVs for each role.
4. Learn to Communicate
Communication isn’t just about chatting on the phone, texting or Facebook. Communication is essential if you want to come across in a positive way should you get to interview.
Sullen or poorly phrased answers to questions – yeah, no, dunno, maybe, ugh etc. – might work with your mates or your parents but don’t work in an interview.
If you’re not good communicating with people in tense situations find someone you trust and respect and have them take you through a number of mock interviews, ask you difficult questions and put pressure on you until you can communicate effectively.
5. Dress to Impress
If you are fortunate enough to get an interview then you need to dress to impress. Seriously!
Turning up to any interview dressed as smart as possible – shirt and tie or blouse; suit if possible but trousers or skirt if not; proper shoes – will impress any employer and may be a minimum requirement for the role. It also shows you respect the person interviewing you and the company you are interviewing for.
Wearing the clothes you wear all day, every day will not impress anyone and will very likely harm your chances of landing a job.
6. Do Your Homework
I know the term homework probably brings you out in a cold sweat and may have been the kind of thing done on the way into school but it can make the difference between success and failure at an interview and these days it couldn’t be easier.
As a minimum research the company you are hoping to work for. Visit their web page, Google their name, find out what they do, who their customers and clients are, what kind of working environment you can expect, what type of work you’ll be doing. You might be asked questions about the organisation at interview and if not it gives you a basis for asking your own questions which could impress the interviewer.
7. Get Some Experience
Sometimes it is simply not possible for you to go from where you are now to where you want to be without gaining some experience. This could be in the form of working jobs you hadn’t thought about, performing tasks you don’t like or even completely changing direction.
If this is the case, you need to look at how you can gain relevant skills and experience. It might mean making short-term sacrifices for long-term gains, relocating, retraining, doing something you don’t like doing or you find boring for a while until you have the skills you need.
It also reduces the gaps on your CV and makes you more employable.
Employers will nearly always prefer candidates who have consistently been working, even in different, unrelated roles to candidates who have a patchy or even non-existent work experience history.
8. Think Outside of the Box
If you implement all of the steps above but still can’t find work then you need to start thinking differently.
It is really easy to get despondent when looking for work, especially when you rarely interact directly with potential employers, spend vast amounts of time sending off your applications never to hear anything again, and face constant rejection.
In this case you need to look at alternative approaches.
If you have no experience or need to work in a specific area in order to get into your dream job why not look at options for voluntary work in the sector or a related area? Many organisations such as charities and social enterprises are on the lookout for volunteers and may provide you with an opportunity to gain valuable experience in your chosen field.
Alternatively, why not try an unusual but memorable approach to an organisation you would like to work for – turn up at reception in your best interview clothes with your CV in-hand and ask for work. If nobody will talk to you go back every day – having determination and consistency is a hugely attractive trait to many employers (although it’s important to not be seen as a pest!).
9. Always Turn Up On-Time
All too often, young people seem to think that work is something that isn’t important and that they don’t need to put the effort in if they don’t want to.
This is often compounded by the approach of parents and schools where taking a sick day isn’t so bad as long as you don’t tot up too many in a term.
In a professional work environment this is totally different. It is expected that you will turn up on-time, every time. In fact your employer banks on it in order to perform effectively and efficiently.
If you decide to take a “sicky” that is fine as long as you are genuinely ill. But if it is because you can’t be bothered, you had “one too many” the night before, or it’s a Monday then you are letting yourself and your employer down and it will reflect on you personally.
However, if you put in the effort, turn up on-time every day even when you are ill, it will impress your boss and will ensure you are seen in a positive light, and probably help you gain a pay rise or land a promotion ahead of the “slackers”.
10. Work Hard
Whatever your chosen field, once you land a job you need to ensure you do everything you can to first keep it, and then progress along your chosen career.
The best way to accomplish this is to work hard, be eager to learn and always do the best you can.
It is all too easy to stop once you have landed your job and then expect that you will get annual pay increases and promotions when you are “next in line”.
The fact is that in the modern working environment, it is usually the people who look to improve themselves, who give more than is expected and who deliver real value to their employer that will gain in terms of pay and promotion.
Gone are the days when length of service alone guaranteed anything other than a gold watch on retirement.
P Lynch is a founder of Secure Success – an online resource for all things related to personal improvement, professional development, financial security and business success.
By P Lynch