This article was first published on Youth Central, September 2014.
So you’re done with school. Maybe you’ve just finished university. Either way you’re looking for a job, eager to jump into the workforce.
It’s hard to know what happens next. You might land a job almost instantly. Or you might not land a job for a while.
The Challenges of Finding a Job
More and more young people in Australia are finding it hard to get a job. In 2014, statistics released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that over 280,000 young people aged 15-24 in Australia are looking for work.
Many young people feel that employers tend to hire people with experience. Young people also find it hard to afford training to boost their skills so they can improve their chances of getting a job.
Scoring a job requires a bit of luck. No matter how prepared you are for a job interview, you might stumble over your words when you’re chatting with your prospective employer during the interview.
Employers also tend to look for someone who is the right “cultural fit” to work alongside them – you might just not have the personality that they’re looking for.
Right after finishing my studies at university, I found a casual job as a research assistant. It was hard to make ends meet financially with this job – some weeks I had no shifts. I applied for heaps of full-time and part-time jobs advertised online and in newspapers, but I rarely heard back from employers.
5 Tips for Making the Most of Your Time Out of Work
It could be a while before you score a job, and you’re bound to have time on your hands until then. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your time while you’re job hunting.
1. Go Over Your Resume
Spend some time revising your resume and cover letters. As a young person, you may have only applied for a few jobs in the past. You might not be confident that you’re sending strong enough job applications to employers. If that’s the case, get a friend or teacher to have a look at your resume and get a second opinion.
While job hunting, I talked to a careers advisor at university and picked up a few tips that helped to make my resume more to-the-point. I actually did score a few interviews after that.
Of course, you can always check out the How to Write a Resume and How to Write a Cover Letter pages here on Youth Central for some advice.
2. Keep Track Of Your Finances
When you’re looking for work, you won’t have much of an income – unless you’re lucky enough to have parents who are willing to generously give you money out of their own pockets.
While job hunting, it’s wise to spend your money carefully. Buy what you need – like food and clothes – as opposed to what you want – like new music or that overseas holiday you’ve always dreamed of. The latter can always wait.
For tips on budgeting, check out the Budgeting page here on Youth Central.
3. Be Productive
With all this time on your hands, it’s a good time to learn something new and maybe even meet new people. For instance, you might take a public speaking course to improve your confidence speaking in front of a group of people. You could also volunteer for an organisation that you’re keen on getting involved in, which can also help you to network with people who share the same interests as you.
I volunteered and helped out with data entry tasks at community radio station SYN 90.7FM. This experience is now included on my resume.
The more you get involved in your community, the more skills you’ll learn and the more connections you’ll make. This can definitely improve your chances of getting a job.
To find out more about how to get involved in volunteering, check out the Volunteering & Work Experience pages here on Youth Central.
4. Start Something
If you’re the creative type, you might want to spend your time outside of writing job applications by kick-starting something. You might start a book club with some of your friends. Or you could pursue your passion for cooking or gardening.
I love writing, so I started a blog while I was hunting for a job last year, blogging about multiculturalism in Australia. It was a satisfying way to spend my time, and since then I’ve even had a couple of freelance writing jobs come my way.
5. Stay Positive
When you’re young and full of energy but out of work, you might feel disheartened. Make sure you take regular breaks from job hunting and do something that you enjoy every day.
It could be an hour of playing video games on the couch or playing soccer outdoors. Whatever it is, having something to look forward to each day will keep your spirits up, and keep you motivated to look for jobs.
It’s Not the End of the World
Being out of work isn’t the end of the world. Think of it as another challenge in life, like getting your driver’s license or passing a difficult subject in school. After almost a year of job hunting (and doing the things I suggest in this article) I landed a full-time job. It turned out to be a job that I really loved.
If you stay active while you’re looking for a job, you’ll come across as a proactive young person to employers. That should make you stand out.
So don’t stress while you’re trying to find a job. Remember to make the most of the time on your hands and good luck getting your next job!