4 Things You Can Do Today to Help an Unemployed Teen

This guest post is by: Michael Costigan has earned a reputation as a leading authority on self-identity, making positive choices, and becoming a leader. He succeeds in getting through to teens and offering both them and the adults who care about them practical and realistic advice. He’s spoken at numerous conferences and high schools across the nation. www.SpeakingofMichael.com

There’s a lot of focus on our nation’s unemployment rate these days. It’s the running tag line of every politician looking to get elected, the biggest gripe amongst most voters, and often a topic of contention between people who have a job and those who don’t. There’s another number in particular though that doesn’t get the same degree of attention on it, and that’s the teen unemployment rate. The US Labour Bureau estimates that the teen unemployment rate (ages 16-24), is 17.1%. This number however does not include the number of 16-24 year olds who have dropped out of the work force, are going back to school full time, or who are underemployed.

Relying on government to fix our problems might be a bad idea here. So here’s what we can do – we can help equip our youth to be more competitive against other applicants, position them for opportunities they might otherwise not have, and teach them to avoid the biggest mistakes that many make when seeking a new job. 

1. Clean up that Facebook profile. Now.

You probably hear this all over the place. Yes employers do look at social networking sites and although by law they might not be able to discriminate on certain criteria, it certainly won’t help if there are inappropriate things posted or the candidate is shown in  association with ideas and organizations that are contrary to the beliefs and mission of the potential employer.

However, there are also more subtle things to be aware of. If the candidate has multiple social media profiles, for example, a Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter – I strongly recommend ensuring consistency across all profiles. For example all work experience, job descriptions, and contact information should be the same. You should also make the profile pictures the same on any publicly viewable profiles.

LinkedIn is an excellent tool and if utilized properly can actually bring recruiters to you. By asking for recommendations on previous or current positions, in addition to having searchable skill keywords, you make it easier for a hiring manager to identify you as a potential fit.

2. The basics still mater.

Having been on both sides of the table, I can confidently speak of a few basics that one can’t overlook in an interview. One should always show up to interviews overdressed. Overdressed doesn’t necessarily mean a suit or fancy dress, in fact, that might not always come off as authentic. Candidates should wear clothing that models the best version of themselves, and take an example from employee rosters on the business’ website — what style clothing is the leadership team wearing? Ties or no ties? Tee shirts or collars?

The most important attitude to convey in an interview is a willingness to learn. Of course candidates should highlight their experiences, but more so than anything, employERS want employEES. Take note of that last sentence. One should always have a copy of a personalized cover letter (name addressed, with pertinent facts relative to the interviewer if possible) for everyone that they interview with. A résumé should also be one page and one page only. Often it’s a 1 resume out of 500 situation. It’s not worth it to make job experience harder to decipher by introducing unnecessary information.

3. Make your materials look better than anyone elses.

This is perhaps the most overlooked way to get ahead. Take advantage of technology to make things like résumés and cover letters impressive. There are many things not within your control during an interview or in the process of trying to land one. Fortunately however, this is not one of those things. Here are some ideas:

-Buy yourname.com and use it for an online résumé, intro video, and identity hub

-Utilize a you@yourname.com email addresses when conversing with hiring managers

-Download the trial of iWork if you don’t have it or borrow a friends Mac to make amazing looking stationary based on easy to use templates

-Make a simple logo for your name

-Order inexpensive embossed monogram stationary

-Switch up the paper stock that your résumé is on

-Make the PDF version of a résumé interactive with working links to past experiences

4. Know your resources. Know the tools available. Dont be afraid to ask for favors.

If you think that everyone who has a great job got there by slowly moving up the ladder from work place to work place, you’re wrong. I don’t like having to say that, but it’s the truth. Part of being in a bad economy means a heightened sense of reluctance to hire people without strong referrals. Whereas many employers might have formally ‘given people a chance’, the idea now seems uninviting when people with not only a proven track record, but also friends in the workplace come along. Hiring managers want to make themselves look good, don’t forget that. So if they can play it safe and make their manager happy, that’s what they will most often do.

I would challenge you to look at your network of friends and family, and identify who is a degree away from you, and then who is a degree away from them. Forget six degrees, I have had a lot of success networking with friends of friends. You need to gain the buy in of the decision makers, anyone else and it’s merely icing on the cake. Use LinkedIn to scout out a company’s org chart, identify and determine a way to add value to the people who have authority in the area you’re looking to move into. If you know someone who works for a place you want to work, see if they have a referral program. It’s all about making it easy for someone to hire you.

I hope these ideas can be used to help your family find the work that they deserve.

This guest post is by: Michael Costigan has earned a reputation as a leading authority on self-identity, making positive choices, and becoming a leader. He succeeds in getting through to teens and offering both them and the adults who care about them practical and realistic advice. He’s spoken at numerous conferences and high schools across the nation. www.SpeakingofMichael.com

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