Posted: March 29, 2011
Entitled kid + doting parents = no job
Seven reasons for youth unemploymentJohn Heckers
American youth unemployment is approaching 25 percent, which is the same percentage as in the Middle Eastern countries where youth are protesting. While some of the youth unemployment is due to a very tight job market, some of it is also the fault of the young people themselves, and their doting parents.
Here are some of the ways that young people (and their parents) are destroying opportunity for the young:
1). Entitlement. Many Millennial Generation job seekers feel that they are entitled to a position. This means that they have an attitude that, regardless of behavior, attire or demeanor, that we should employ them. Sorry folks. We will employ you if we want to, and won't if we don't. Learn to live with it.
2). Refusal to follow directions. We ran an ad on Craigslist for a paid intern as an office assistant. We offer salary and great benefits. We were very specific about the things that applicants needed to do to be considered for the position. Out of 16 applications, four people even came close to doing as we requested. We weren't requesting the holy grail. We asked for a short essay telling us why the candidate would be a good fit, and a résumé. Simple, right?
No. Not simple. When we wrote to some of the people who applied to a). the wrong email address, b). without even bothering to read the ad c). without a writing sample, and asked them to re-apply following directions, we got nasty emails telling us that were fascists for requiring the applicant to do anything other than attach a link to their homepage. Look, if you aren't going to even follow application directions, what would make me think that you'd follow my direction at work?
3). Slovenly appearance. Learn to dress for an interview. This means dressing up. Go buy a suit, a good shirt, a tie and a pair of shoes that aren't athletic in nature. Put a shine on those shoes. Press the shirt. Make me think that you actually want a job. And shave off that three-day-old stubble that is so popular among youth. It makes you look like a slob. Don't have visible piercings (other than women...one piercing in the ears). Don't let your tattoos show. You're not in school anymore. You're applying for a job. Try to look the part.
4). Be reasonable on salary. Sorry, Charlie, but you aren't going to get $50K right out of college, and certainly not right out of high school. This is a recession, remember? You're going to need to start at something slightly above minimum wage and work your way up. This is called "paying your dues," and we all had to do it.
5). Understand that you'll start at the bottom. Your first job out of college or high school probably isn't going to be a "fun" job. You're going to get stuck with the grunt work. You're low person on the totem pole. You don't necessarily get "fun" until you've earned your stripes. Get real about how much responsibility you should be given. At first, not much.
6). Understand that people won't accept you "just for being you." You got fed pabulum in school that you are valued "just for being you." Isn't that special. You'll get positive feedback when you do something positive for the company...like making the company actual revenues, or saving the company money, etc.
7). Parents - you aren't helping your kids. I see too many parents who are footing the bills for their kids, and footing them in style. Your best bet is to demand that your kids be self-sufficient to the greatest degree possible. There is a reason why mama birds push baby birds out of the nest. It is so they can fly. Your job when your kids were young was to give them a nest. Now it is time to give them wings. Don't let them mooch off of you for the rest of their lives. You're doing them a great disservice if you do.
Things are not easy out there. But they rarely are. If today's youth want to become employed and have successful careers, they'll have to begin to attain some of the habits of successful people.
I might add that I see numerous young people who "get it" and are doing all of what I suggested above. I respect and admire those of the younger generation who are working hard, being reasonable and moving ahead. If the rest of the Millennial Generation doesn't want to be left behind, they'd be well advised to emulate them.
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John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC was an Executive, Relationships, Life and Spiritual Coach in Denver with 30 years of experience helping people with their lives, relationships and careers.