Young people though sophisticated in their general understanding of the job search process, are often naive about the mechanics and etiquette that underlie an effective search. Some tips for young job hunters are
a. Don’t pretend you know what you want to do, if you don’t
You do need to know yourself. What are you good at? What kind of work environment do you thrive in – a fast-paced setting? A boss who provides autonomy? Be prepared with compelling examples that speak to these skills and preferences.
b. Fake it, sort of
In interviews, you must communicate that you believe in yourself and your skills, but it’s okay to express some uncertainty. Hiring managers will interpret this as a willingness to learn and the ability to be influenced. Here’s what you should fake: the impression you are really keen to do a particular job even if you aren’t. How you actually feel about the position is your personal business. To land a job, enthusiasm is key.
c. Know your audience
Be cognizant of boundaries; sometimes young people who are comfortable talking to adults forget they are not talking to someone who really cares about them when interacting with strangers. Avoid “over-sharing.”
d. Take advantage of every offer to help
Don’t be shy about asking for assistance. But don’t be obnoxious. Walk that line between being clear about your desire for help while not acting like it is your right to have endless support.
e. Don’t assume people remember you
Most people have short memories. Remind your contact about who referred you and why you are calling.
f. Avoid saying anything that smacks of entitlement
Self-confidence can be interpreted as cockiness rather than a sense of self-worth. Be prudent with the words you use. Never say, “With my degree, I expect stimulating, well-paid work.” (You can think it, just don’t say it.) Or, “How long will I have to do this before I am promoted?”
g. Show true appreciation for help
Save the cool ironic stance for your friends. There is nothing wrong with an enthusiastic message saying, “Thanks a ton for your help.” Remember that your supporters will feel good about having helped you only if you explain the role they played, such as how their introduction to a contact led to an opportunity.
h. Understand timeliness.
And don’t assume people will do what they say. They may forget, or be distracted. Follow up if someone was supposed to get back to you and doesn’t.
i. Don’t be too picky
The trick is to take what you need – experience, income, self-knowledge, exposure – and not to be crushed psychologically. Be flexible about income. Focus more on the skills you will develop and how this job will be a stepping stone, than whether you are working for slave wages.
Weigh the value of paying off student debt, or saving for grad school, with the benefits of experience and opening a door for future opportunities.