The Value of Youth

As a job seeker, you have a lot less experience than your more seasoned counterparts.  You may begin to wonder how you can possibly compete.  The fact is you are probably in a stronger position than you realize.  Many employers intentionally select younger candidates over those with more work experience.  Here’s why:

Willingness to learn.  As a young person, you’re used to playing the student role.  You are still in school (or have recently graduated) and everywhere you look, someone is trying to teach you something.  Many employers find that young people are easier to train and more willing to accept the employer’s way of doing things.

Fresh perspective.  Your lack of experience can actually be considered an asset.  You don’t have preconceived notions of what can and can’t be done.  Young employees with fresh eyes are sometimes able to see problems and opportunities that are invisible to more experience employees.

High energy.  It’s a fact of nature that young people tend to have more energy than older people.  This energy can translate into enthusiasm and increased productivity.  Managers love these employees because their enthusiasm is contagious.

Technologically savvy.  You have been looking at computer screens since you were a baby.  Unlike older candidates, you grew up with this technology and are able to manipulate it in ways that they couldn’t even conceive.  As our world becomes increasingly connected, the demand for these skills will grow.

Not afraid of change.  Younger employees are often more willing to try something new.  Youth are generally less risk averse and are not as invested in the status quo.  This perspective can be attractive to an employer who is trying to make a change to their business.  Younger employees also tend to be more comfortable in a multicultural workplace because they grew up with this diversity.

Breaking into the job market is tough.  There are not a lot of jobs and the competition is fierce but don’t give up.  Just by being young you bring certain assets that are attractive to employers.  The key is to figure out what they want and to show them that you’ve got it!

(Written by: Karen Bivand)

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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 Students Can Prepare for their Career

Most students wait until they are about to graduate to start thinking about their career.  However, if you take that approach you miss out on a lot of potential opportunities.  Instead, why not start this school year with your career in mind and do everything that you can to prepare yourself?  Here are some things that students can do to get themselves job ready:

Complete a Co-op Program.  Co-op is an excellent way to try out a career while gaining valuable work experience.  Even if you decide that you don’t want to pursue that particular career, you might get some valuable connections that can help you later.

Do Extra-Curricular Activities.  Employers like to hire candidates that are responsible and well rounded.  If you don’t have much work experience, extra-curricular activities can help you stand out above your competition.

Research Career Opportunities.  It is difficult to prepare yourself for your career until you know what type of job you will be targeting.  Take some time to research different career options and try to find one that appeals to you.  You might even want to do an aptitude test to get some examples of careers that would be a good match for your skills and personal attributes.

Get a Part Time Job.  In addition to providing an income, a part time job will give you work experience to put on your resume and access to potential references.  Just the process of finding a job is a valuable learning experience.

Keep Your Eyes Open.  If you pay attention, you will see potential career opportunities all around you.  Many people miss out on careers that would be a perfect fit for them simply because they didn’t know about it.  When you meet people, ask them about their jobs.  When you hear about different careers, research them to find out exactly what they are.  In order to make the best career choice, you need to know all of the opportunities that are available to you.

Being a student is an amazing time in your life and you don’t want to miss out on it by focusing too much on the future.  However, if you take a little time now to prepare for your career, you will be in a much better position to get a job after graduation.

(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)