Published on March 29th, 2013 | by Tom0
Why Your Kid Can’t Get A Job
This article appeared in Forbes.com, co-authored by veteran Silicon Valley author Michael S. Malone.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, one out of every two Millennials—age 18 to 32–is either unemployed or under-employed. Numbering approximately 80 million people (there are actually more Millennials than Baby Boomers), this cohort is now the most educated, yet most-indebted generation in history. The Department of Labor estimates that some three million Americans with Bachelor degrees work in jobs that don’t require an education at all–janitors, barristas, bartenders and retail clerks.There are a lot of obvious reasons why junior is now living in your basement at age 25.
Indeed, there has been almost a perfect storm in the convergence of Globalization and the off-shoring of labor, productivity gains from information technology, the Great Recession (and the evaporation of millions of entry-level jobs), and the rise of impersonal “robo-hiring” via computer modeling and software filtering (where test scores and checked boxes count more than life experience).
Meanwhile, the confluence of social, mobile and local is seeping into the corporate world. In fact, our very idea of an ‘enterprise’ is changing. Empowering individuals weakens organizations – and thus companies are becoming decentralized, virtual, protean. Managers can look to services like Odesk and eLance to contract out virtually any task. The very nature of work and the compact between worker and workplace is changing – and society is slowly adapting to this change. It no longer makes sense to warehouse employees (even at Yahoo!) in expensive office buildings so that colleagues can spend the day texting and emailing each other anyway.
Unfortunately, the world of work isn’t adapting quickly enough for Millennials. At a time when one’s gifts are just as likely to appear in a YouTube video or pin board as in a resume, the talents of this generation are being overlooked by aging HR directors and recruiters. There’s a reason that the average LinkedIn user is 44 years old – how do you display in a line of bare text your genius at viral marketing?
So what is a kid today to do? One answer is to establish a powerful personal brand independent of work experience. Not just cobble together a few starter jobs, but pursue their own aspirations – and then learn how to define them and market them to the corporate world. Another answer is to take advantage of being a digital natives and build new kinds of networks – and a sharing economy – and find jobs for each other and hire amongst themselves. Freelancing is likely to be their future anyhow, so why not start and learn the skills (from DIY bookkeeping to marketing) of being an entrepreneur now?Young job hunters need to rethink their social media presence. Social proof is critical to employers. Ditch the frat party photos, avoid the drunken tweets. Turn your public social media presence into a showcase of your personal brand and portal of interests and skills. Connect the dots for the prospective hiring manager. The best way to combat a thin resume is with photos, video, endorsements. Be unusual and memorable: if, for example, you reached Level 60 on World of Warcraft, tell your future boss why that means you have monster leadership skills. And, show you have a big and growing network that comes with you when you get hired.
Meanwhile, whether you’ve graduated from college or never went at all, never stop learning. The Web is filled with on-line courses from Udemy to the Ivy League. And, don’t go into major debt chasing that BA: there is a growing “uncollege” movement that aims to unseat the four-year baccalaureate BA as the key measure of smarts. Expect colleges to respond with shorter degree programs and employers to start looking for better ways to evaluate talent.
At the same time, employers need to start rethinking their recruiting process, notably in using sophisticated social network search tools to go spear-fishing for high potential talent, rather than waiting for applications to come across the transom. And, managers need to look for the skills that really matter today in high potential young talent, attributes like cognitive load capacity, adaptability and social media skills. That one kid with the high GPA and stellar SAT scores may just be a drudge who took a lot of prep classes –while that other kid making clever and obscene videos may have superior communications and social networking skills, a huge online following and an innate ability to redesign your company’s entire future. Employers need to start looking for these new skills, and stop hiring in the rear-view mirror. They need to find raw, adaptable, resilient people who can be molded and mentored for jobs that don’t even have titles yet. And no group is better suited for than the Millennial who made your latte this morning . . .or still lives in his old bedroom down the hall.