Oh no! Gen Y struggling with career choices and job starts

29 June, 2015

“Weren’t the others in the Drama group cross when the main actor didn’t turn up to the last rehearsal?” “No, because they’d all done the same thing themselves at one stage or another.” So spoke my friend, a University Drama Lecturer.

And that lack of reliability has been highlighted by employers as one of the reasons why employers just aren’t hiring Gen Y graduates as they used to. 

According to a 2014 report by Graduate Careers Australia, 23.4 % of companies would have employed more graduates last year if “more appropriate candidates had been available.

To me, those figures are both astonishing and a sad indictment of us as educators and as parents.

The OECD says in its 2015 Skills Outlook that for millions of young people across the world, the transition from education to work has gone from “never being particularly easy” to “nearly impossible”.

That’s the macro level.  What about at the micro level?

Botching up the transition

I can remember working with a lovely young woman a couple of years ago whose role on a Production Line had been made redundant.  She was actually glad.  She had mismanaged the transition from school to work and ended up unhappily working on the line for 8 years.  She went on to use the enforced break from her job to shift into an area that better suited her.

I also recently worked with a Law graduate who confessed that she didn’t like writing and didn’t think she was very good at it! She regretted having spent 5 years on her Law degree and wasn’t sure what type of work to pursue. To compound the issue, she was heading into one of the most depressed markets for lawyers in a long time.

Do you have a son, daughter, relative, friend, child of a friend?

I’m sure we all know someone in our lives who is facing this critical transition from school to work or University to work. What can we do to help them thrive and enter into meaningful work as smoothly as possible?

The good news is that it actually isn’t that hard. (The sad news is that it doesn’t seem to happen as often as it should.)

In order for a young person to succeed in this career transition, there are 3 critical areas to cover:

  1. Identify carefully which career path suits them

  2. Identify what employers value and then implement an action plan to develop those skills/attributes/experiences

  3. When they’re ready to start selling, identify how to persuade an employer that they have what their Buyer wants

1. Meaningful Career Paths

A lot of this work is done within the school system.  But for many young people that just doesn’t work or doesn’t stick. Who knows why and, at the micro level, it doesn’t help to lay blame.  

If your young adult is struggling here, I’d find the funds from somewhere to send them to a good Career Consultant.  There are plenty of excellent practitioners out there and I’d look for someone who is accredited with their national body as a starting point. It should only take a couple of sessions for your young adult to achieve much more clarity about their next career steps.

2.  Seeing the world from the Buyer’s eye and adjusting behaviour

I recommend that your young adult conducts an unofficial straw poll of Hirers.  It’s important that they do this themselves, so that they can’t hide from the answers.

So, young Gen Y'er, catch up with 10 Managers / Business Owners / Recruiters and ask them, “What are your top three desires in a new hire at my level?” 

Then ask them, “What are your top three turn-offs in a new hire at my level?”

Once you have your information from your Buyers, complete a Gap Analysis. This is one of my favourite tools to achieve career success and satisfaction - it gives you a positive, practical strategy to achieve the change you desire.

Essentially, you will rank the importance of the feedback from your Buyers and then you will rate your ability in each of the critical areas.  The scoring process in Gap Analysis allows you to focus your attention on the top three issues where you are struggling the most.  That way, you get the most bang for your buck.

3.  Convincing the Employer that you are the Ants Pants

It’s the rare individual who can do this alone.  Having worked with thousands of  people over the years, I have almost never felt that I have not added true value in the area of:

  1. Cover letters

  2. Résumés

  3. Interview skills

This is especially the case with Australians, who usually feel quite uncomfortable with the whole idea of selling themselves.

And then there’s job search networking.  I can never speak highly enough of this scary / wonderful strategy. 

How clever, determined and disciplined are you if you use this approach to bypass all of your competitors to uncover a role that exactly suits who you are and what you want to be!  Yet, no one ever seems to know about it or know how to do it correctly.

So, in this third area of Career Management, it's worth engaging a career specialist to help your Gen Y'er. 

Who should you approach?

These days, with feedback available on LinkedIn profiles and on websites, you should be able to get a feel for how well regarded the career practitioner is. In one respect, you’re likely to find that they are all the same - most career counsellors genuinely care about their clients.  You don’t tend to last in this area of work if that’s not the case. 

On a purely technical level, however, in my opinion a strong Career Consultant should have the following attributes:

  1. They should be an accredited MBTI practitioner, as this is a critical tool to help individuals to understand career preferences

  2. They should have considerable experience helping individuals across all areas of the working world: corporate sector, small business, Not For Profits and Government

  3. They should be highly skilled communicators themselves

  4. They should be able to inspire confidence in an individual that success is possible and that their dreams are attainable, if accompanied by a strategic, determined and disciplined campaign

Services to Youth Council in Adelaide has a great program called My First Job.  It focuses on a conversation about employment NOT unemployment. And, it’s practical. 

Let’s do the same. Let’s work with Gen Ys and the upcoming generation to ensure that they are aware, confident and skilled about their work futures.

 

aBOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Cunningham is Adelaide's leading career expert.  She appears regularly in The Weekend Australian Careers section, in The Advertiser's CareerOne, as well as in online publications such as news.com.au, thenewdaily.com.au and womensagenda.com.au

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