Today’s employment market hangs over the heads of job-hunters like a black cloud, whether it’s looking for a summer job or internship or thinking ahead to a career. But how are teens supposed to know what they want to do when they don’t even know what their plans are for the following week? And how to find work in a tough economy when even adults with years of experience are having trouble finding a job?
Paula Kosin, a career consultant for Career Vision, a non-profit research foundation, says that in the past, young adults would “job surf,” or stay at a job long enough to get the experience before moving on.
“Young adults are in a tail spin right now because this is totally in the opposite direction of what’s going on today,” said Kosin. They need to focus on ‘what’s my contribution to an employer.’” Because of the decrease in the number of jobs available, young adults no longer have the opportunity to job surf, and instead are forced to make a decision much sooner than they have had to in the past.
“Teens tend to gravitate toward careers that they have been exposed to and careers that offer power, status, and prestige. What they see on TV, what seems glamorous—anybody who makes a lot of money,” she says.
Kosin finds that teens tend to underestimate their worth and talents, and therefore they are not using accurate information when making career decisions. Aptitude tests and objective career assessments are important keys in figuring out what is a good fit for an individual. “What’s really important is to get a sense of career direction... Know about yourself,” said Kosin.
Here are some other job-hunting tips:
- Ask yourself, “What can I do to prepare myself so that I can be the best candidate in a competitive market? Can I be a creative problem-solver?” Teens who prepare themselves well will have the best crack at getting employed.
- Turn down the news. It gets depressing and frustrating. There are fewer opportunities out there at this point in time in the work force, so you are going have to know how to dig.
- Know how to network. “That’s the hidden market. The old fashioned boots on the ground networking to find opportunities. It’s a tougher way to look for a job, but it’s also more productive. And to me, it’s like a treasure hunt,” said Kosin.
- Volunteer in your community. Giving your time and energy to a good cause shows civic duty, creativity, and dedication. Research volunteer organizations close ot home or even exhcange programs abroad, if you school offers such programs during vacations or summers.
- Look for the supporters in your life that can be role models and coaches—parents, older siblings, teachers, sports coaches, etc.
Finally, and most importantly, be proactive about job-hunting. Teens, young adults, and adults alike need to get out into the world, define what they want and the contribution they want to make to an employer. “Hope is not lost,” said Kosin. “We just have to learn how to move with the shift in economic times.”
This article has been reviewed by BodiMojo expert, Tara Cousineau, Ph.D.