Signs that read "We Are Hiring" and "Apply Today"

Youth Finance Institute of America Advises Young Job Seekers

Signs that read "We Are Hiring" and "Apply Today"
(Photo by Eric Prouzet on Unsplash)

By Ronvel Sharper

The economy is shifting, its current flaws becoming more and more evident by the day. The pandemic has changed countless people’s work situations, whether by choice or not. Millions have lost their jobs, while millions of others have walked away, fed up with the pay, the conditions or having to put so much of their lives into labor. This so-called Great Resignation has created many opportunities for young entry-level workers hoping to get a job.

On Nov. 15, the Youth Finance Institute of America tried to help young people take advantage of these opportunities, hosting a virtual workshop for those who want to enter the workforce. The institute has been helping people aged 14-21 with financial life skills since 2015.

Amiko Foster, 40, founded the organization to “bridge the financial knowledge gap within underserved Black and Brown communities.” Foster’s goal is to educate people of color on becoming homeowners. She has nearly two decades of experience in various financial aid programs and working as a home loan consultant for some of the nation’s largest banks.

YFIA collaborates with other community organizations, helping them reach more people. Among those organizations is Richmond’s YES Nature to Neighborhoods, which has been around since 1999.

According to representative Vincel Alfred, 47, who also attended the workshop, YES helps teenagers transition from teenagehood to adulthood. Its goal is more of an environmental one compared with YFIA’s focus on finances. According to the organization’s website, “Our vision is for Richmond youth, adults and families to lead healthy, connected lives; motivate change in their neighborhoods; and inspire a safe, thriving community.”

Now, back to the workshop, which offered the following advice about resumes:

  • Make it clean and simple. Not too long, not too short.
  • Use an easy-to-read font.
  • List any colleges or universities you have attended and your actual or expected graduation year. If you haven’t attended college, then put your high school.
  • Add your GPA and any honors programs you may have been in.
  • Include an award/skills section with ones relevant to the position being applied to. That could include software programs you are proficient at, for example. Add skills as time passes and you learn new things.
  • If you have high numbers of followers or subscribers on social media, listing them can show how good you are at marketing yourself. Just make sure to delete any inappropriate material from your account.
  • Being a good writer or bilingual or working in organization/leadership roles are all things that show you have value for employers.
  • Always keep your resume handy when you’re job hunting; it makes you look professional.

The workshop also covered the job search itself.

The speakers advised job seekers to keep location in mind. Could you make it to work reliably? Are you able to make the commute every day? Can you afford taking public transport every day? If not, then maybe that job isn’t for you. No point if you love your job but feel beat by the time you arrive. Always know your limits and boundaries.

Same goes if you’re looking to work while going to school. In that case, you should probably work part-time. Working full-time as a student is likely to wear on most, mentally and even physically.

The workshop covered job hunting online as well. It can be very helpful and provide access to a lot more opportunities, but you’ll want to be careful where you look.

Sites such as LinkedIn and Indeed let job seekers learn about and apply to openings and companies they otherwise might not be aware of. Some sites such as Craigslist, however, can be sketchy because they allow anyone to create a job listing anonymously. That opens them up to fraudulent posts.

If a job looks too good to be true, it probably is. If a job requires you to pay upfront before you are even considered, for example, then you are looking at a scam. Always research the company you are interested in. Make sure it is not a multilevel marketing scheme —basically, a pyramid scheme, those “want to be your own boss?” types, or a downright scam. To protect yourself, never, ever give personal or financial info to anonymous people on the internet. The repercussions can be extremely serious.

But because of the pandemic and the Great Resignation, there are many legitimate job openings out there. Entry-level and other workers just need to make their move.

Employers all over the nation say they are desperate for workers, so find what works for you. Students might want to consider flexible or seasonal jobs that might let you get more hours in while being mindful of your school schedule. If you have a car and want some flexibility, then gig jobs may be up your alley.

After you apply for a job, the next step, hopefully, is the interview. If you make it that far, it is crucial to do your research. Look into the company’s values. Make sure you know what the job wants from you. Think about your accomplishments and lessons you’ve learned and how they might apply to the position you’re going for.

To help make sure the interview gets off to the right start, don’t be late. First impressions are everything. If you miss that first meeting or don’t show up on time, you can kiss that job opportunity goodbye.

During an interview, have a notebook and pen ready to take notes. It can make you look good and help you keep track of things. Be prepared to ask the interviewers questions as well. Always present yourself in a courteous and respectful manner, and if you do get the job, don’t change.

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