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Library Round Table: Young and Looking For Work?

It is well known that young job hunters are facing a tough job market. We offer some tips to help gain employment.

Editor's note: The Library Round Table features several guest columnists from the Northfield Public Library. This piece is from Jamie Stanley, reference librarian.


It is well known that young job hunters are facing a tough job market. Below are nine tips this demographic of employment seekers should keep in mind during while looking for work.

If you do not know what you want to do, don’t pretend you do.

  • It is natural to be uncertain what your job options are when you are young and do not know what it feels like to work in a particular type of work setting.
  • What is important to convey in a job interview is an understanding of you. For example, what you are good at, what kind of work environment you thrive in, and how much autonomy you feel comfortable with on the job. Be prepared to provide examples to illustrate your skills and preferences.

What’s real, what’s fake.

  • Conveying that you believe in yourself and your skills is important in a job interview, but it is also acceptable to express some uncertainty given your career inexperience. Hiring managers will likely understand the uncertainty, and should interpret it as a willingness to learn on the job.
  • It is critical in an interview situation to express enthusiasm, even if you may not be keen to do a particular job. Just don’t go overboard in your eagerness in an effort to appear professional as you could risk coming across as insincere.

Know your audience

  • When looking for work remember that talking to professional contacts implies a different set of boundaries than talking to other adult acquaintances. Avoid sharing too much information.

When offered help, take it!

  • Most people feel good when they get an opportunity to help someone, so if someone offers to help you, take it.
  • If you do need assistance don’t be shy about asking, but don’t expect endless support either.

You might not be remembered

  • Most people have short memories and come in contact with many people. In advance to any conversation you may have, remind them who referred you and why you are calling. 

Show appreciation for help received

  • Be enthusiastic and sincere when expressing gratitude. Keep in mind that those who helped you will feel better about doing so if you work into your thank you message specifically how they helped you.

Entitlement: A word of caution

  • Right or wrong, many older hiring managers think that the younger generation of job seekers suffers from a sense of entitlement. Be careful with your word choice, don’t be overly friendly, and don’t come across as overly self-confident as it can be misinterpreted as being cocky instead of conveying a sense of self-worth.

The value of timeliness

  • If someone offers to pass along your name to a colleague, follow up with that person right away or you run the risk of being forgotten and offending the person who passed your name along.
  • If someone offers to get back to you promptly and does not, get back to them promptly. People do not always do as they say, they may forget, or they may get distracted.

Don’t be overly picky

  • A crappy job is neither a life sentence nor a death sentence. Try not to be psychologically crushed and keep focused on longer term goals. Take what you can from the job including experience, income, exposure and self-knowledge . The skills you are developing on the job are a steppingstone to other things in your future.
  • The Northfield Public Library has a great collection of resources for job seekers. Below are a few sample titles of interest to young job seekers. All are located in the Business and Employment Resources area:

1,001 phrases you need to get a job by Nancy Schuman and Burton J. Nadler. Avon, Mass.: Adams Media, c2012. Call number is 650.14 SC

Job Interviews for Dummies by Joyce Lain Kennedy. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, c2012. Call number is 650.144 KE

Résumé 101: a student and recent grad guide to crafting résumés and cover letters that land jobs by Quentin J. Schulze. New York: Ten Speed Press, c2012. Call number is 650.14 SC

A Year Up: how a pioneering program teaches young adults real skills for real jobs--with real success by Gerald Chertavian. New York: Viking, c2012. Call number is 331.21 CH

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