With jobless rates still high in the US, and only marginally better in Canada, one of the hardest hit groups is likely to be young students and recent graduates who have only just begun to look for employment.
More young people out of work means more competition for students looking for jobs; so how can a student get an employer’s undivided attention, and more importantly, that seemingly elusive job offer?
“One of the main factors that distinguish people who are succeeding in today’s workplace from those who are struggling in it is how well they understand the need for self promotion and how effective they are at doing it,” says author Ron McGowan in his book How to Find Work in the 21st Century.
Finding work these days is not just about scouring job sites from home; it’s as much about selling yourself, your product or your service, as anything else. The best thing you can do for yourself as a job seeker is learn to communicate – through your résumé, website, the way you dress and speak – that you are the right person for the work. This means having a clear understanding in your mind about what you can contribute and how it will benefit those who “buy” it, and presenting this understanding in your cover letter and résumé, on your website and through the clothing you wear. It also means polishing your presentation and communication skills so that you have the ability to “sell” yourself at any time. Essentially, learning to market yourself is the key to finding work.
It’s not the same [work] place your parents or grandparents worked in and your approach to being successful in it will have to be different from theirs. —Ron McGowan
To be successful, employment seekers also need to understand the changes the workplace is undergoing, and the difference between looking for a job and looking for work. Whereas a “job” used to mean secure, full-time employment, nowadays finding work could mean accepting contract or part-time work instead of a full-time job.
A willingness to look for contract or part-time work might actually put an applicant ahead of the competition. An employer is likely to look at all the candidates and think, “Will this person add something to my business, and will this person make my life easier?” If the applicant is prepared to take whatever kind of work is offered, he or she has an advantage over others.
To get work, some of the old tricks still apply: Employment seekers should become “news hounds,” diligently check job sites, and attend trade shows, conventions and meetings. They should learn to network effectively, and be creative while looking for work.
McGowan stresses, however, that in order to succeed in today’s changing work world, young people looking for employment must master the essential skill of marketing themselves.
“You must understand that your success in today’s workplace is tied directly to how effective you are at self-promotion,” he says.
For more information on how finding work has changed and what changes you can make in your job quest, consult How to Find Work in the 21st Century
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