Why Do Young People Struggle to Find Work?

By: Daniel Rattanamahattana on November 26, 2012

The struggling economy makes job hunting a demoralizing prospect for many Canadians.  Unemployment remains near 8 percent nationally, while the youth and young adult unemployment rate is almost double the national figure.  However, a new study performed by the research and consulting firm Millennial Branding indicates the tough economy is not the only reason young people have struggled to find work over the last few years.  The study found that members of so-called ‘Generation Y’ rely too heavily on their parents for job advice and don’t know how to use social media professionally.

The Millennial Branding research suggests young people are not aggressively pursuing job prospects in the ways previous generations have.  Finding work takes dedication and the ability to handle constructive criticism. Most young job seekers only get advice from family members, who tend not to be the best source of employment tips.

Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding, says parents are unlikely to give their children constructive criticism because parents reinforce their children’s strengths without highlighting their weaknesses.  He believes constructive criticism can only come from mentors, which he says younger people have not been utilizing.

You need mentors who can give you specific — not broad — advice.”

The study also found that younger people don’t know how to present themselves through social media to potential employers. Remarkably, only 29 percent of young people surveyed reported having a LinkedIn profile.  Schawbel says most young people see social media as a Facebook page or following people on Twitter, and remain ignorant about how it can be used in the professional world.

However, Schawbel also says part of the reason young people struggle to compete in today’s job market is because they remain oblivious to what employers are looking for in a new employee.  The relationship between post-secondary institutions and the companies that hire graduates needs to become more integrated if youth unemployment is to improve.

“Companies need to be more integrated in the education system because they're the ones hiring these students, and colleges need to prepare students for internships before their junior year.”

As more and more young people struggle to find work, the health of the Canadian economy may depend on it.