It’s the age-old adage: You need experience to be employed and you need to be employed to get experience. Actually, it’s not an age-old. It’s a pretty new phenomenon. Unskilled work is disappearing. Grad jobs need minimum two years of experience.
It’s never been so bad as now—not for as long as the Bureau of Statistics has been collecting data. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that 31.5% of millennials (specifically, people aged 15 to 24) are unemployed or underemployed—that is to say, without work or working fewer hours than they would like. The growing numbers can’t be explained for the number of young people combining study with work or choosing to study full-time.
Our culture has shifted from an expectation of learning-on-the-job, to needing years of experience, which has led to this crazy system of exploitation we call unpaid internships. Add to this the fact that jobs tend not to be secure or permanent. Centrelink makes it so hard to receive payments that the whole system seems to be a deterrent. It’s not making for a great situation for us young’uns.
So, what can you do to rise above the pack?
#1 Do Something Awesome
Stand out by doing something special. Extra points if it’s something your non-millennial recruiters will love. Create an app. Freelance your skills. Start a small business. Compete. Do something newsworthy.
Of course, you can always fall back on the usuals too. Studying education? Look for children’s charities, tutoring, OSHC work. Studying law? Admin at law firms, mooting and competitions at uni, legal centres. Etc.
Whatever you do, make it something you love so it feels like a hobby. And don’t undervalue yourself. Know your rights under the Fair Work Act. If you’re an unpaid intern doing the work of a staff member and not learning anything, you’re being exploited.
#2 Work The Grapevine
Make friends in the industry. Start with the people around you and the people in your uni classes. Get to know your lecturers. Go to networking events. Talk to people. Know the right people and you’ll know about the jobs before anyone else. Get someone to recommend you and you may not have to apply in the first place. The workplace is all about relationships.
Getting rejected is hard. Even when you expect it. Employers are being flooded with applicants, so you’re bound to hit out a few times (many, many times)—do they even read all the hundreds of applications?? Anyway, expect it to take time before you’re successful. Keep trying. And in the meantime, refer to #1 and 2 and keep dwelling in the unfairness of it all by reading articles like this one on the internet. #solidarity
#4 Nail The Cover Letter/Resume
There’s no point eliminating yourself from the competition before you get the interview. Make sure your cover letter and resume are kicking goals. There are plenty of support services out there to help you. If you’re a uni student, check with your careers service. Be passionate. Let them know why you’re right for the job, what you’d bring to the business, and why you’re better than any other applicant. And when you’re using the same cover letter over and over (Why write a new letter for each of the hundreds of jobs you’re applying for? Especially when you nailed it the first time.), for God’s sake remember to change the details from the last job (easy mistake to make).
Image Sources: Even Rubenstein, Free Resume Example, Vulture.