Often when people hear “age discrimination” related to hiring, they imagine older people being discriminated against because they didn't grow up in the computer age and struggle with emailing (not to mention navigating the complex and over-stimulated world of social media). However, young people are often discriminated against even more than older people because these young‘uns don’t have any or very little work experience. We’ve all been there. We have all been stuck in that unhappy place of needing work experience but no one is hiring people without work experience! Well, here are 5 simple ways to get you unstuck and hired:
Any and every young person should be involved in more than one of the following: sports, music programs, community events, volunteering, church groups, internships, language groups, study groups, art programs, traveling, studying abroad, theater groups, speech club, competitions – goodness, even book club counts. Why? They count because all of these things are “work experience”. At each group or activity, you learn to work as a team, you learn how to listen, you learn how to communicate, you learn how to finish what you start, you learn how to solve problems, you learn how to manage the emotions of winning and losing, and you learn new skills. Perhaps the best part of being actively involved in life is meeting people, which as you’ll see in the next point is very important to getting hired.
Be friendly and talk to people.
Be safe about it, but yes, talk to strangers. Start making connections and friends now with people who are older than you or even older than your parents! It sounds weird so let’s find a good excuse for you to start talking to people who have more life experience than you. Look for people doing a job that you think is exciting and ask them to be your mentor. Pretty soon if you are nice enough to everyone you meet and add them to your LinkedIn, your connections will introduce you to their connections and your circle of acquaintances will begin grow on its own. Forget job advertisements. Everyone who works in HR knows the best way to find new employees is by getting referrals from current employees. These current employees refer their friends who they trust and if a company trusts their current employees then chances are their employees’ friends are trustworthy as well. Not only that, but the new referral will know all about the company and will feel more comfortable right away as they already know someone at the office. This reduces future turnover. Your friends may just very well be the connection you need to find your future employer. Start today by expanding your circle of friends beyond just people your age and who live within a 20 minute radius of your house!
You don’t need to be on Shark Tank to call yourself an entrepreneur and you don’t need to make thousands of dollars either. Set up an Etsy shop or sell your product at a local farmer’s market. Cut lawns around your neighborhood or clean local businesses. The fact that you went out and started trying to make money on your own says a lot about you. It will demonstrate to your future employer that you can come up with ideas on your own, execute your ideas, accomplish your goals and work hard. Who wouldn’t want to hire someone like that?
Are you relatively good at video, photography, design, art, or music? Keep it up. Create a portfolio of your work, constantly add to it and refine your talent. Even if you don’t want a creative job in the future, your portfolio will demonstrate to others that you are able to do well at things that you spend time and focus on. It also shows that you are patient, think outside the box, able to work independently and can teach yourself new tricks.
Be confident and sell yourself.
Every company needs someone who is good at sales, which means if you can sell yourself, you will be able to work at any company in the world. How does one sell themselves? Let’s do a simple exercise. Imagine how you would sell a vacuum cleaner to someone without carpeting. Impossible? No. Difficult? Yes. To be able to do this you have to be personable, confident, good at communication and creative. No one is going to buy something from someone they don’t like. That is just a fact. Be friendly and learn about the other person before you begin your sales pitch. Confidence comes when you know yourself. Likewise, if you know everything imaginable about the vacuum cleaner and possible arguments against owning one that someone might have, you’ll most likely be able to sell it because you’ve done your homework. Know that an employer might say, “But you don’t have any work experience in our industry…” and prepare a smart reply in advance. Lastly, you must be creative. You have to change the other person’s mind about you just like you have to show the person who has no carpet that vacuum cleaners actually work on all types of surfaces and pick up more dirt than brooms. You, too, have more to bring to the table than they think so get out there and sell yourself!