For many college students, recent graduates and early career professionals, navigating the current job market is a tough task. Though experts say workers have the ‘upper hand’ as job openings remain elevated, many young workers still find it hard to get their foot in the door.
According to job search platform Employed Historian, millennials and Gen Zers are the most educated generations but face the most difficulties when it comes to finding employment, such as competition and skills required for entry-level work. However, with platforms like LinkedIn, TikTok, and Instagram, there’s more work advice out there than ever.
CNBC Make It spoke with three LinkedIn creators, who use the platform to share professional and inspirational content and advice, to find out their best tips for young workers seeking to kick-start their careers.
Have the courage to cold-message
In 2016, at just 15 years old, Audrey Pe started WiTech, a nonprofit organization for technology accessibility, in the Philippines where she grew up. Today, WiTech currently has over 400 members and 26 chapters across 10 countries.
Pe, a current junior at Stanford University, was able to strengthen her professional network by sending cold messages to people in her career field. Cold messages are emails or other direct messages sent to someone in order to achieve a goal without prior contact.
“I wanted to feature women in tech on our blog but didn’t know any, so I went on LinkedIn and cold messaged people from there,” Pe tells CNBC Make It. “I’ve applied the same process of messaging strangers with potential collaboration opportunities to WiTech event partnerships, speaker invitations for our talks, etc.”
Done the wrong way, cold messages can come off as selfish or inauthentic, so it’s important to try and build a genuine rapport with the person. According to Indeed, successful cold messages share authentic compliments, mention relevant connections, are brief and present a next step.
Tell yourself ‘I can handle this’
Dylan Gambardella’s advice is simple, but effective: practice self-reassurance. Gambardella, 26, is the co-founder and CEO of Next Gen HQ, a business hub dedicated to helping young entrepreneurs reach their goals. He encourages other young professionals to be persistent, despite job search struggles.
“It’s a stressful time, and you’re going to face rejection. Don’t let that deter you – stick to your process and trust that the efforts you are putting in will lead to the results you so desire.”
Gambardella also says that the first step to succeeding is just getting started, as saying “we can’t let our fears prevent us from getting in the game.” He encourages people to not be ashamed to ask for help along the way.
“Don’t be afraid to reach out to a mentor or peer you come across on LinkedIn who you believe will be able to offer meaningful insight.”
‘Be a combo specialist’
After obtaining his master of science degree in finance from Lancaster University in 1997, Eric Sim was ‘devastated’ that he’d been rejected by Princeton for their PhD program. Already working in banking, Sim decided to continue working in the field before exploring several other careers: managing director, professor, investor and career coach.
Sim, 52, says that developing a range of skills has helped him make career moves, and he suggests many young workers do the same as it’s “not easy for recent graduates to compete because many students have similar credentials.”
“I was an engineer by training who went into finance after graduation. My interest at that time was computer programming. After a few years, I combined my finance experience and engineering knowledge to work as a financial engineer at Citi,” Sim, a first-time author, shares.
“During my eight years there, I developed some selling skills and enjoyed conducting internal training. The ability to sell then helped me move to investment banking where I started to blog on LinkedIn. My combo makes me unique and helps me transit from one role to another role easily.”
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