Opinion

A Bit of Advice for Millennials – It Takes Hard Work to Get a Job

Earlier today while scanning my Facebook feed, I came upon a post from a much younger friend of mine who was throwing a rant about a job search. This friend of mine has gone from one low wage/skill job to another for years. Every time he feels like he has been unfairly treated, he tends to either leave the job or get fired from it. Through all of this he has been able to maintain the delusion that it is the manager picking on him, not something that he is doing himself. In this particular case he was complaining about job experience. Typical to most millennials, he does not understand that moving up the ladder takes time and hard work.

As he stated, “I’m [swear word] 23 and only have been working for 5 years … I’m not going to have 10 plus years experience in ANYTHING. So this is where I’m confused is how to get the experience for the job I’m trying to get if I keep getting turned down for the lack of experience for the job I’m trying to get. Makes no [swear word] sense.”

In response, I felt compelled to write him the following response. When I finished I realized that this is probably something that many younger people need to understand.

Dear Millennial Friend,

I am not sure if you actually want an answer or not, but luckily for you there are very few rhetorical questions that I will not jump into with both feet.

When looking at a potential job candidate, the organization should not look at your age, but it isn’t as if that information is hard to figure out. Look at my resume and you will see I joined the Army in 1992 and then served twenty years. That gives a pretty good indication of my age. Right or wrong, there is very little you can do about this.

Does age matter? Yes and no. With age often comes knowledge and wisdom. At a certain point you are expected to not only have the knowledge of the capabilities of the assets under your supervision, but the wisdom to know how to utilize them to their maximum capabilities.

A diverse background, in your case, is not a very good thing. In the time that I have known you, your job history has been sporadic. If I am a hiring manager, this is going to tell me several things. First, any training time (which is money) I spend on you will need to be reconstituted quickly (in other words you better perform on a level where you make the company a lot of money) because you will likely not be around long. While that sort of thing is fine for low skill positions with high turnover, it will not get you into a position that will pay you any serious money.

Second, you have little accumulated time in any particular job meaning your knowledge/wisdom gained is likely minimal as well. Finally, it shows there is a lack of follow through on your part. A company wants to know that the person it is spending money on will be there for an extended period of time. That means that someone who changes jobs every few months, or even years, is a liability.

It sounds like you have the wrong idea about the purpose of a job anyway. A company is there to perform a function, and your job exists because it is necessary for the overall accomplishment of whatever that function is. In other words, the job is what is important, not you. I am not going to hire someone without experience if I have someone available who has it. How does that benefit the company?

As an individual, no one cares about you or your problems. To be blunt, what makes you so valuable that a company should hire you over someone who actually has 10 years of experience? You are not owed a job.

This is the problem with the fallacy of a living wage which makes it sound as if a job exists to provide you with an income. That is simply not true. The income exists to provide a person for the job. If the company cannot find anyone willing to take that job at that pay, then they increase it. The entire process can be whittled down to simple supply and demand.

If you needed to have open heart surgery, would you want an 18-year-old drop out to do the surgery? According to your statement about experience, he should be able to. Having to toil away for decades in order to perform that procedure would be an elitist philosophy and should be abandoned.

You can complain about not getting a job due to a lack of experience or even post trash about potential employers (or former employers) online, but none of this is helpful. In fact, it will actually work against you in the long run. The most important thing a company has is their branding. When a person looks at their logo, or they hear the company jingle, what are the emotions that are formed? A business lives and dies by the pull of their branding, and every employee adds to brand loyalty or disloyalty. That is why many employers look through the social media feeds of potential employees before they even consider hiring.

Whether you were right or wrong, no one will ever offer you a serious position if they see you trashing previous employers or jobs. Every community, be it family, neighborhood, or work, has its fair share of discourse. Most of those involved in these disagreements want them brought out into the world. Unfortunately, most people view social media as some magical place where the drama they post doesn’t affect the real world. That sort of mindset shows a lack of discipline and maturity.

Now, you will occasionally see people who violate these rules and still do very well for themselves. People who will tell their employers to go to hell and still either have a job or easily get another job. That is because they will already have a reputation backing them up within their career field. If your worth to the company is more than the pain you cause, then the company will tolerate your attitude with more latitude than others. The more specialized a person is, the more they will have this attitude. However, what needs to be understood is that they get away with it because of what they bring to the company. They know what they are talking about and therefore most employers listen to what they have to say.

The employee/employer relationship is symbiotic, especially when both sides understand the full moral and ethical responsibilities that are inherent within their roles. While this does not always happen, I have found that it is often the employee who does not understand how this bond functions, usually because they want to make it all about them. You are simply one small cog in the huge machine. What you are worth is dependent upon the function you serve and the difficulty a company faces in finding someone with the required skill set to fulfill your role.

In closing, if you want to get a better job, I would ask you what have you done to make yourself a better candidate? Did you actually read the job posting? Does your resume answer the questions that they ask? Does it reflect the experience that they are looking for (if not don’t waste their time or yours by applying)? If you do not have the experience, are you looking inward at yourself to determine the best path ahead? Did you research the company and understand their needs and goals? Did you bother to find out who is actually going to receive your resume and therefore address it directly to them?

At the end of the day getting hired is a responsibility that is completely incumbent upon you. You simply need to put in the hard work to get there, or not.

Matthew Wadler

Matthew Wadler is a U.S. Army veteran. Matt served in the Army for 20 years as both enlisted and officer before retiring. His service includes time as Military Police, Field Artillery, Adjutant General, and Recruiting. His deployments include Somalia and two tours to Afghanistan. His formal education includes a master’s degree in HR Management. He is a strong supporter of the constitution and advocate for the military and veteran communities. Follow Matthew on Twitter @MatthewWadler.

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