Youth unemployment is at approximately 25%. This is even higher for recent grads in the “soft" subjects, such as psychology, social work, etc. So why am I hearing from my friends and business colleagues they are having a hard time hiring, especially for entry-level positions? I think there are, from my research and observations, a few answers.
1. Unrealistic salary expectations. Many who are graduating college believe they should be paid $50K or higher to start… with no or little experience. This is just not realistic. Dues must be paid, and one of those dues is to earn a lower salary for a while to get experience and actually be worth being paid at all.
2. The B.S. from colleges and training schools. Colleges, universities and training schools are over-inflating the worth of their training so they can charge their obscene and exorbitant tuition. They're telling these younger workers that they're completely trained and ready to hit the road running. In fact, most of what kids learn in school is completely useless. Don't get me wrong, an education is a vital and valuable experience. But schools have got to stop peddling the B.S. that kids are ready to be CEOs upon graduation. Again, dues need to be paid in terms of real world experience.
3. Unrealistic duty expectations. The entire job isn't going to be fun, fun, fun. Every job, including mine (sometimes especially mine) involves some “cleaning the toilets." No job is going to be non-stop valuable and non-stop fun. You get to do the “grunt work," too. If you're not willing to start pretty close to the bottom of the career ladder, expect to be unemployed for a long period of time.
4. Universities again. More of the B.S. coming out of academia is, if you can't get a job with a Baccalaureate degree, go get more education. This is why there are so many people with advanced degrees that are still unemployed. So the schools tell them they need certificates, or a PhD, or some other “credential" that universities or other schools can give them. Employers want experience. By getting more and more advanced degrees, without starting at the bottom and getting experience, you're just pricing yourself further out of the market. I strongly suggest a few years of work before going on for more degrees or certifications unless such are required for your field. Another point. Most of the very best universities, such as Harvard, look for someone who is well-rounded and can bring something to the table, rather than a snot-nosed kid who has gone from high school to college, and college to grad school.
5. Evil parents. Parents — your kids are never going to stand on their own two feet if you keep carrying them around. Insist your kids work, even if you have to help them for a while. Tell them to put up with the everyday give and take of a work environment, including long hours, office politics, and jerk bosses, rather than telling them they're too good to have to experience this, even though you do every day. Make them pay a bit of rent if they're living at home. No one should ride for free, especially your children. You have two jobs. When they were younger, you had the job of giving them a nest. Now it is your job to give them wings!
I hear too many kids (and I'm even talking “kids" up to their 30's) who say they don't really have to work because their parents will either pay for them to live, or that they can live at home. This is really, truly dysfunctional!
6. Social lives. No one has told most youth workers their recreational and social lives must, especially in a difficult economy, take a back seat to actually earning a living.
7. Over-scheduling. We would love to hire someone to be trained as a career coach. However, we are finding that many of the younger people we've interviewed have such packed lives that they don't have time for the job and the training that must take place. One person was more interested in her yoga and pole-dancing classes than in being trained for an exciting (and potentially lucrative) career. I could give many other examples, as well. I blame my generation for signing these kids up when they were younger for soccer, piano, ballet, softball, dance classes, and everything else under the sun that kept them busy 24/7. But constant busy-ness does not allow for the learning and mentoring a career takes.
8. Entitlement attitude. I see many younger workers feel entitled to be treated “special," and to be appreciated for just doing their job. This may have happened at Ben Franklin Elementary, and even through high school and college, but the work world requires some actual accomplishments.
I welcome your comments, both in the comments section below, or to me, personally, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Heckers has over 30 years of successfully helping people with their careers. He has consulted to executives from Fortune 500 companies, 5 person companies, and everything in-between.