Job angst and an­swers

A head­hunter of­fers tips to mil­len­ni­als ea­ger to start ca­reers

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS - By James F. Peltz

James Citrin is a cor­po­rate head­hunter at ex­ec­u­tive search firm Stu­art Spencer, where he leads the firm’s work in find­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive can­di­dates. He re­cruited Marissa Mayer to Ya­hoo Inc., for in­stance.

But an­other Citrin pas­sion is the strug­gle of the “mil­len­nial” gen­er­a­tion — the 82 mil­lion peo­ple born be­tween 1981 and 2000 — to find and keep jobs.

Many mil­len­ni­als were un­lucky to come of age when the Great Re­ces­sion hit in 2008, and they’re still deal­ing with a tough job mar­ket de­spite the econ­omy’s re­cov­ery. Many also are sad­dled with col­lege debt.

“Young col­lege grad­u­ates’ job prospects have de­te­ri­o­rated dramatically since the start of the Great Re­ces­sion,” the Eco­nomic Pol­icy In­sti­tute, a think tank, said last month.

More than 9 mil­lion mil­len­ni­als live in Cal­i­for­nia, more than in any state, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Cen­sus Bureau.

Citrin, with three chil­dren in their 20s, wrote a book called “The Ca­reer Play­book” to help mil­lenni- als — and any­one, for that mat­ter — land jobs and keep them. We asked him to share some ad­vice for job hun­ters. Here’s an ex­cerpt: It’s been sug­gested that mil­len­ni­als look­ing for work to­day have it eas­ier than those who tried dur­ing the depths of the re­ces­sion a few years ago. True?

The class of 2015 is fac­ing the best mil­len­nial job mar­ket in a decade, and that’s great. But it’s a two-sided story, be­cause they’re com­pet­ing against peo­ple who have been out of work for the last two or four years and who might have ex­pe­ri­ence in the field. If the new ap­pli­cants don’t have that ex­pe­ri­ence but need a job to get the ex­pe­ri­ence, how do they get around that old para­dox?

When a com­pany says you need two years of ex­pe­ri­ence, they don’t re­ally mean you need two years of ex­pe­ri­ence. They just want some­thing [in your back­ground] for you to get off to a run­ning start on the job.

So you say, ‘I’ve used my sum­mer va­ca­tions for the last two years to work on this or that’ or ‘I started a T-shirt com­pany on

cam­pus’ or ‘I started a Web-based busi­ness.’ You say I’ve got all th­ese sets of ex­pe­ri­ences.

It’s hav­ing the con­fi­dence and con­vic­tion and sto­ry­telling tools to weave your ex­pe­ri­ences to­gether in a way to en­able the hir­ing manager to see you can solve their prob­lem. How do you build that con­fi­dence?

Prac­tice in­ter­view­ing [for a job]. Prac­tice in­ter­view­ing your story. The more you do it, the bet­ter you get. But in your book you say em­ploy­ers fill most jobs with peo­ple they know or to whom they’re per­son­ally re­ferred, cor­rect?

That’s right. It’s about mak­ing con­nec­tions and re­la­tion­ships. Just be­cause your par­ent isn’t the CEO of the com­pany or you didn’t go to Prince­ton doesn’t mean you can’t build re­la­tion­ships to get great job op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Peo­ple are more con­nected than they think. When a hir­ing manager gets a re­fer­ral, those re­fer­rals typ­i­cally tend to be re­fer­rals of re­fer­rals. Mil­len­ni­als are known for be­ing more In­ter­net-savvy than their pre­de­ces­sors. Does that help make con­nec­tions?

You are more con­nected to­day than ever. There’s a huge de­moc­ra­tiz­ing force at work with to­day’s so­cial net­works, like LinkedIn. The rate and scale at which we can lever­age re­la­tion­ships with those net­works is greater than ever. I view them as a mas­sive force for good in the job mar­ket.

You can plant that seed on the winds and let that go out. Per­sonal rec­om­men­da­tions from your net­work are what power all this.

You main­tain that mak­ing con­nec­tions, or net­work­ing, is one area where a mil­len­nial ac­tu­ally has some con­trol in the job search, right?

Yes. The other thing they have a lot of con­trol over is the at­ti­tude by which they go through the process. Mean­ing?

If you are pos­i­tive, if you’re bright, if you can have a mind-set of help­ing oth­ers, it’s eas­ier to get no­ticed than peo­ple might think. If mil­len­ni­als are so at ease with tech­nol­ogy, why isn’t their job search eas­ier in a world where tech­nol­ogy seems so preva­lent?

There are more pos­si­bil­i­ties out there for en­er­getic, cre­ative, en­tre­pre­neur­ial peo­ple than ever. But their ca­reer paths are much less de­fined than be­fore.

Whether it’s con­sol­i­da­tion, glob­al­iza­tion, com­pe­ti­tion or new tech­nolo­gies, com­pa­nies aren’t cre­at­ing the ca­reer lanes — start­ing with gen­eral train­ing pro­grams — they had 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago.

It’s much harder to get that first job be­cause there are fewer struc­tured pro­grams in place. Tech skills ob­vi­ously are in de­mand. But what if you stud­ied English or other lib­eral arts?

It’s in­cum­bent on lib­eral arts stu­dents, or those who aren’t tech­ni­cally trained, to do two things: First, de­velop the skills where you add value and lead­er­ship such as prob­lem solv­ing, com­mu­ni­cat­ing, an­a­lyt­i­cal skills.

Then a per­son should study some of the dis­ci­plines [re­lated to] where the world is go­ing. Years ago it might have been math­e­mat­ics or chem­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing or a for­eign lan­guage. To­day it might be [com­puter] cod­ing or a part of the health­care sys­tem.

You can still be an art his­tory ma­jor and bal­ance that with at least one or two cour­ses in th­ese other dis­ci­plines. A lot of hir­ing man­agers love tra­di­tional lib­eral arts, but they need that lit­tle hook to hire you.

Matthew Pey­ton Getty Images

JAMES CITRIN wrote “The Ca­reer Play­book” for mil­len­ni­als, many of whom grad­u­ated dur­ing the Great Re­ces­sion.

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