Young job seekers see youth as an advantage


Today's "Gen Y" generation faces challenges others in their age group haven't in the past. 7 On Your Side spoke with several 18-35-year-old job seekers to find out what they are facing and how they can turn obstacles into advantages.

Jonas Estrada, 28, recently moved to the Bay Area from Hawaii. So far he's found his job prospects to be pretty grim.

"We've been trying to find jobs for a couple of months now and there's really nothing out there," Estrada said.

Sasha He just graduated with degrees in economics and statistics from Rutgers University. She's hoping to find a short term job as a waitress.

"The economy isn't doing so well right now so I thought it be smarter to, it doesn't hurt to be a server while I look for something I really like," she said.

Both He and Estrada were among those who attended a job fair in San Mateo put on by National Career Fairs.

Life coach Christine Hassler says today's 18-35-year-olds are facing some unique challenges.

"They're not only competing with people their age, they're competing with people older than them, that have more experience because a lot of Gen Xers, you know, people in their 30s, 40s, are willing to take entry level jobs or jobs at lower salaries just so they can get a job," Hassler said.

Estrada agrees, but sees his youth as an advantage.

"The lack of experience isn't always helpful, but the youth and energy, sometimes it's what companies are looking for," he said.

A new survey by American Express finds that Estrada is not that far off.

"Hiring pros are more interested in interpersonal skills, communication skills, personality and emotional maturity than they are in your GPA, or your previous work experience or your degree," Hassler said.

She recommends job seekers of all ages take writing classes, public speaking classes and join toast masters.

And when they do land that interview, make the interview about the company and not about them. Take an interest in the interviewer and the company, ask lots of questions and don't come across as entitled.

"So you want to make sure you have that interchange with the interviewer and create a connection with them," Hassler said.

And once a job seeker gets that job offer, negotiate a fair salary. The American Express survey found Generation Y often settles for salaries $10,000 below the going rate.

"So my recommendation for 20-somethings is first do market research, find out what the competitive salaries are for the position you're going for in your select cities," Hassler said.

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