How Gen Y job seekers can stand out in the job market
Generation Y job candidates have a lot of selling to do these days. Thanks to the recession, these young workers are competing not only with each other, but also with older, more experienced candidates. Below are a few ways Gen Yers can fill the gaps in their resumes to put them on more equal footing:
- During an interview, shift the conversation away from lack of experience to demonstrable skills. If you were involved in a technology project, even if it was while at a university, during an internship, or as unpaid work for a non-profit, the skills required to complete the project still count. Focus on the project completed instead of the lack of corporate experience. (Find out what the hot tech skills are.)
- If you don't have demonstrable skills related to the job you'd like, consider certification. "For IT specifically, lack of experience can often be compensated for with certification," says Julian Byron, Web project manager with a digital publishing company in Washington, D.C. "It's a good investment, specifically if a Gen Yer only had a year or less of [work] experience. Getting certified can really build that up."
- Stress your comfort with change. "Gen Y thrives on change, and there's no denying we're in a period of change with corporate restructuring," says Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology, an IT staffing and placement firm. "Gen Y might thrive when a company is doing technology updates, vs. someone more senior who might not."
- Play up your technology skills, especially related to new media and social networking. Fortegra Financial, a financial services firm in Jacksonville, Fla., looks for Gen Y job candidates because of their comfort level with new technologies. "They speak that language much more fluently than the traditional or legacy employee," says Kirk Hale, vice president and CIO of Fortegra. "We found it's more expeditious to acquire that talent than to try and develop that talent."
- Network with people in the company or industry you'd like to be in. According to Byron, many employers will move the resume of a job candidate with a referral from a current employee to the top of the stack.