What a Young Person Brings to the Job

ID-100356960Being new to the job market can be extremely intimidating.  You look at your competitors with much more experience and you begin to wonder why anyone would ever choose you.  However, you do have advantages that you may not even be aware of.  Here are some of the benefits of being young when you are trying to find a job:

Understanding of technology.  Just by virtue of you being young, many employers will make the assumption that you are adept with technology such as smart phones, apps, web tools and text messaging.  In today’s increasingly online and even mobile world, the ability to use this technology is a clear advantage as a job seeker.  Make the most of it by keeping yourself up to date.

Enthusiasm.  Young people often bring a high level of enthusiasm to the job.  From the employer’s perspective, it is nice to see employees who are genuinely happy to be there.  Let the employer see your excitement about the position and your desire to learn.  An interviewer may be willing to select you over a more experienced candidate if you seem a lot more enthusiastic about the job.

Fresh ideas.  Since younger employees have not been in the industry for very long, they have the ability to see old problems with new eyes.  This opens up the possibility of identifying new and better ways of doing things.  Many employers value the ideas of their younger employees because they view it as an opportunity to innovate.  Tell the employer about some of the great ideas that you would bring to their company and don’t be afraid to think outside the box.

Up-to-date on current trends.  Being fresh out of school has the advantage of being on top of current trends.  Since you have recently completed your education, you are more aware of what is happening in your industry than a seasoned professional who hasn’t kept up.  Maintain this advantage by regularly reading industry publications and attending industry events.

Flexibility.   Depending on your situation, you may be able to be a little more flexible than your older counterparts.  The ability to be flexible with your  work hours, location, or even the type of work you are doing can make you an extremely attractive candidate to potential employers.

We all bring strengths and weaknesses into our job search.  While you may be wishing that you had a little more experience, one of your competitors may be envying your youthful appearance and ability to text at 200 words per minute.  They key is to be aware of your strengths and to use them to show the employer that you are the best candidate for the job.

(Written by Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)


How a New Grad Can Compete in a Tough Market

Graduation time is just around the corner and while this year’s fresh-faced graduates will be beaming with pride as they wear their cap and gown, there is no doubt that many of them will be concerned about their next step.  You’ve graduated…now what?  The bad news is that the class of 2015 will be graduating into a tough labour market; the good news is that there are always opportunities available.  Here are some tips that will help you leverage your assets so that you are a competitive applicant even without much work experience:

Be flexible.  When you’re looking for your first job, be as flexible as possible.  Tell the employer that you are willing to work evenings and that you are flexible about your work location.  Since many people are unable or unwilling to be flexible, it is a way that you can stand out.  It shows that you have a strong level of commitment, and you may be one of only a few candidates that are able to meet the employer’s needs.

Customize your resume.  Do your research and find out exactly what type of candidate they are looking to hire.  Write your resume in a way that shows that you are an excellent fit for the job.  Highlight your relevant soft skills and be creative; if you don’t have direct work experience, focus on your volunteer work and extracurricular activities.

Network.  When you are looking for your first job, you are asking someone to take a chance on you.  People will be a lot more willing to do this if they are connected to you in some way.  Talk to the people in your network and let them know that you are looking for a job.  They may alert you to possible opportunities and they might even be able to bring your resume to the top of the pile.

Be enthusiastic.  One reason that employers like to hire new graduates is because they are so excited to get the job.  They are a pleasure to work with because they are happy to be there.  The enthusiasm that you bring is contagious and can boost the morale of the organization.  Attitude is important to managers when they are making hiring decisions, so if you come across as being passionate, you can have an edge over your (more experienced) competitors.

When you look at the job market, it is easy to get discouraged.  Today’s job seeker needs to be more resilient and resourceful than ever before.  Stay positive, work hard, be strategic and a door will open just enough for you to squeeze through.  Good luck!

(Written by: Karen Bivand)

Why Employers Like to Hire Students

If you are a student, then you are well aware that you likely have less experience than many of the other applicants for your target job.  However, you shouldn’t be too quick to give up hope.  Some employers are specifically looking for students or recent graduates to fill their open positions.  As a student, you have assets that may be even more valuable to a potential employer than work experience:

Enthusiasm.  Since students are new to the profession, they are usually eager to get to work.  Employers love enthusiastic employees because they are productive and easy to work with, and they positively contribute to the atmosphere in the workplace.  Make sure that you communicate your passion for the job in your cover letter and at your interview.

Fresh Eyes.  New graduates have a completely different perspective than seasoned employees.  Their unique viewpoint allows them to spot problems and see possibilities that nobody else has even considered.  Smart employers often look to students to try to identify blind spots or missed opportunities.

Current Knowledge.  Since it is difficult for even the most dedicated professional to stay on top of recent trends and research, many employers use students to fill that gap.  Students are up to date on current industry knowledge and if given the opportunity,  they will use it to the benefit of the company.  Make an effort to stay on top of industry trends by reading relevant publications.  Whenever applicable, mention these trends in your interview to demonstrate that your knowledge is current.

Flexibility.  After working for a while, many employees begin to take their job for granted and are less willing to make personal sacrifices to meet the employer’s needs.  While this is understandable, it is not ideal from the employer’s perspective.  On the other hand, many employers perceive that students and recent graduates are willing to do anything and everything to make the employer happy.  For example, the employer may find that students are more willing to work an overnight shift than other employees. Make this stereotype work to your advantage by letting the employer know that you are flexible and that you’re willing to go beyond the call of duty to get the job done.

In a tight labour market, it seems like someone without experience wouldn’t even have a chance at getting a job.  However, that is not the case.  Many employers actively recruit students for their open positions. While students do lack experience, employers have found that they have other attributes that make them excellent employees.

(Written by: Karen Bivand)

How to Create a Resume If You’ve Never Had a Job

Looking for your first job can be intimidating.  You need to submit a resume, but you have nothing to put on it.  How can you possibly get a job without any experience?  The truth is that you probably have more than you realize.  Here are some experiences that you can include on your resume even if you’ve never had a steady paying job:

Volunteer work.  The value that you get out of volunteer work will greatly depend on the type of work that you are doing.  Volunteering can give you the opportunity to get some experience working in your field, show your sense of community responsibility, make connections for your network, and get a professional reference.  Even though you don’t get paid for volunteer work, you still get valuable experience.

Extracurricular Activities.  Were you involved in any teams, clubs or committees while you were at school?  Did you hold a leadership position in any of these clubs?  An involvement in extracurricular activities shows that you are both well rounded and responsible.

Odd jobs.  Even if you haven’t yet had a steady job, if you have been paid to do anything, then you do have work experience.  Have you ever babysat for a friend?  Did your neighbour pay you to shovel their driveway or walk their dog?  Does your uncle ask you to work in his shop sometimes?  This is all genuine work experience and can be included on your resume as casual work.

Educational or Professional Training Courses.   Have you recently taken a course or completed a training session?  Employers like to hire candidates that show that they take their education seriously by working to develop themselves.  Also, the skills that you gain may give you the edge that you need over your competition.

Many first time job seekers make the mistake of underestimating the importance of their experience. After adding it all in, you may find that your resume looks a lot more impressive than you expected.  Keep track of everything that you do and remember that any experience that you can relate to your target position is valuable.

(Written by: Karen Bivand)

Get a Job as Soon as You Graduate

Are you nervous about getting a job after graduation?  Nobody wants to graduate and then be unemployed for six months.  So what can you do to improve your chances?  Here are some steps you can take that will put you in a strong position to get hired as soon as you take off your cap and gown:

Sign up with an Employment Agency.  Most people wait until after they need a job to visit an employment agency.  However, most agencies have resources that you can make use of even before you graduate.  At an employment agency, you can attend workshops, get help with your resume, do research, and find out about available positions.  If you do this work ahead of time, you will be able to hit the ground running once you finish school.

Conduct Information Interviews.  When you talk to people that work in your industry, you are able to get a real picture of what it’s like.  At an information interview, you can find out which skills are in demand, which companies might be hiring, what type of job you should be targeting, and what it would be like to work in the industry.  Use your network or even social media to identify people to interview and ask them if they would be able to give you fifteen minutes of their time.  You may be surprised by how many people are willing to talk to students.

Volunteer.  When you have limited work experience, volunteer work is an excellent way to get real skills on your resume.  If possible, try to find a volunteer position that would give you experience working in your field.  Extracurricular activities can also help you demonstrate soft skills such as leadership skills, organizational skills and the ability to work well on a team.

Do Labour Market Research.  By the time that you graduate, you should have a clear idea of where you fit into the labour market.  What types of jobs are available that would be a good match for your skills?  Review industry publications and job advertisements to get a sense of which skills are in demand and what is happening in your field.        

Develop Your Social Media Profiles.  In today’s job market, employers will almost definitely check you out on social media before making the decision to hire you.  Make sure that your social media presence demonstrates both your professionalism and your expertise.  You can also use social media to make connections, develop your network and possibly even get a job.  If you work on it a little bit each day, you may find that before long the jobs will start to come to you!

After spending all of that time and money getting through school, you are no doubt eager to find a job, but realistically it will take a few months.  However, if you start working on it before you graduate, it will a much easier (and quicker) process and before you know it you’ll be receiving your first paycheck.
(Written by: Karen Bivand)

5 Ways to Impress an Employer Without Work Experience

Looking for your first job can be an intimidating experience.  It feels like everybody has more experience than you do and you may start to wonder why any employer would ever pick you?  Don’t get discouraged.  It is possible to show the employer that you are the perfect candidate for the job, even without any work experience.  Here are five ways that you can stand out above your competition.  

Good Grades.  Employees are measured by their achievements and students are measured by their grades.  If you show the employer that you scored top marks in your classes, they will expect that you’ll work hard and perform well on the job should they decide to hire you.

Volunteer Work.  Through volunteer work, you can get the opportunity to try tasks that you may not be given in a paid job.  Volunteer work can show that you are responsible and professional and it demonstrates a commitment to the community.

Extracurricular Activities.  Most employers like to hire candidates that are well rounded.  An involvement in sports, committees and other activities shows that you are an active student with many interests and talents.

Relevant Course Work.  If the courses that you studied at school are related to your target position, then put them on your resume.  Relevant course work gives you an in-depth knowledge of the subject area and makes you aware of recent research and trends.

Passion.  Employers are always looking for candidates with passion for the position and the organization.  When you are enthusiastic about your job, you work harder, achieve more, and people enjoy working with you.  Nobody wants to hire an employee that doesn’t want to be there.  As someone who is newly entering the industry or the workforce, passion is the one area where you can easily compete with your more experienced counterparts.  Tell the employer why you are excited to be there and what the job would mean to you.

When you’re looking for a job, you can’t get too caught up on the skills and experience that you don’t have.  Insead, be proud, focus on your strengths, and tell the employer why they should offer you that job.

(Written by: Karen Bivand)