The Job Hunt for Millennials
Our parents’ generation had a simpler life in a lot of ways. For one thing, getting a job was easier, especially if you had graduated from university. Likewise, it was more guaranteed that they could grow their careers inside a company without constant competition, stress and risk.
Nowadays, no such thing exists. We millennials struggle in the job market against thousands of similar candidates with impressive profiles and CVs, and the competition is crazy. Nearly everyone has a bachelor’s degree, and more and more people do their master’s in top-rated universities. Young people apply for summer internships, or go through unpaid graduate programmes to get work experience. Everyone has done a lot of things, except you – that’s what it feels like. There is always someone better than you out there, so how can you be the one getting hired?
X speaks four languages and you only speak three; Y knows HTML, when you barely understand what a meta-description is; Z is an Excel expert, whereas you only have it on your CV because you know that you should be much better at it, yet your expertise beyond the most basic functions is virtually non-existent. It is very disheartening when you think like this – especially when you see entry-level jobs asking for years and years of experience. How can that be possible, when you have only now finished studying?
The truth is you must prove you are good enough, that, in fact, you are excellent, even though you might not have the required work experience. But why is it considered an entry-level job, then? People who have worked for five years in a similar area are no longer applying for entry-level jobs. Or are they? We can wonder all we want, and still it won’t make sense, and companies will keep asking for the same seemingly impossible pre-requisites from candidates. And don’t even get me started on the ever-present obsession with ‘candidates must have a successful ability to multi-task in a fast-paced environment’. How many times have we encountered this one? And how many people do you know that can, in fact, successfully multi-task whilst paying thorough attention to detail?
But it doesn’t stop here. The interviewing process is stressful and difficult, and it can take a long time for a highly-qualified individual to get work – a couple of months, if you are lucky, or maybe a year. Youth unemployment has probably never seen such high numbers before. This was not even something our parents had to worry about when they came to the job market years ago. We, on the other hand, must go through endless processes of writing cover letters, doing group dynamics and exercises, and several individual interviews before we can actually get a job – that is, if we get that far in the process.
Most times, you submit your application and never hear from the company again. This can be very frustrating and discouraging. Some companies let you know that, unfortunately, you have not been successful, but most don’t even bother. In the end, you feel like you need to say yes to the first offer you get, which means that you end up doing something that you don’t really enjoy just because you need the money to pay the bills – even though you are more than qualified to do a different job which you really love, but it just hasn’t come your way yet. And once you are comfortable with your new job, even if you don’t love it in the slightest – are you truly willing to go through the whole process again, to risk losing your current job and not getting one that you love? Probably not.
Nonetheless, we do get inspired every now and then by people who have the guts to quit their jobs when they think they have had enough, to follow a different dream – this is a huge risk, of course, but if you truly believe you can succeed, by all means, do it! There’s no point in having a job that you hate and which makes you miserable your whole life. If you take a chance at something else that you know you will love, you might actually pull it off. The worst thing that can happen is not making it work on a first attempt – but the trick is not giving up and not losing hope. Don’t settle for something that you hate just because it pays the bills. Of course it is easier said than done, but it is not impossible, and you can always look for different jobs and alternative paths whilst keeping the one you have.
Unlike our parents’ generation, we don’t take things for granted as much as they did. Having a bachelor’s degree does not mean you will get a job, nor does having a master’s. Moreover, even if you already have a job, there is no telling if you will have it indefinitely, as the competition is there even after you sign the contract.
You may have to work long hours every day (what happened to 9 to 5?), and it is becoming more common in several professions to work weekends, and to leave the workplace after midnight more often than you should. There is little to no work-life balance, and most times you don’t even make enough money to make up for it – not that you would have much time to spend it, anyway. Even after you get home, you are expected to pay attention to last minute emails and phone calls, because who knows when the next work emergency will happen. This wasn’t a thing in our parents’ generation because, well, there weren’t smart phones, laptops or email. People would go home after work and not think about it until the next day. No one would call their home number unless there was a real emergency – like someone dying or something very serious that really couldn’t wait for the next day.
Nowadays, it is unthinkable for you to turn off your phone and ignore your emails, texts and phone calls – the world has changed the way it works, and it is difficult to go against the rules. Can you really not be connected 24-7 and expect no one to notice?
However, initiatives such as the French government’s recent law barring work emails after hours may be a step in the right direction – even though it won’t be effective for everyone, as sometimes you need to know what is going on all the time, especially if you have an important role in a company (which should not stop you from wishing to turn off the job button sometimes, of course), it is a good thing. It makes us realize that having a personal life is important, too. One of the biggest problems of our generation is treating the lack of work-life balance as a normal thing, when it is not. Living under constant stress will only reduce our quality of life and, consequently, affect the quality of our work. If we are feeling miserable and stressed all the time, even when we like our jobs, how can we be good employees? Finding the balance is key.
We shouldn’t forget that life is not just about working and making money. Finding a job is hard enough, so make sure you enjoy life as much as you can once you do it: get enough sleep, practice sports, make time for friends and family, and do things that you love and make you happy. Travel. Meet new people. It is essential that we are able to do all of this. Unless there really is a problem that needs immediate solving, you should start filtering what really requires your constant presence and attention. It’s 8 pm and you are still at the office: is there something that really can’t wait until the next day? If not, go home, get some rest. The work will still be there tomorrow.