My advice to twenty-something year-old jobseekers

I wrote this out in an email to a friend a few days back. I believe in it wholeheartedly, yet it feels rather idealistic. I’m starting to think there’s interesting work to be done in bridging the gap – in helping people to find what Sir Ken Robinson would call their ‘Element’.

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In a nutshell, it seems to me that the challenge you face is this: There are lots of people in a very similar position to you. Why should someone hire you over them?

To meet that challenge, you need to stand out. I believe that it’s actually not that difficult to stand out. I think you can do it in three steps:
1. Find something that you’re really passionate about
2. Do something out of hours that demonstrates your passion for it
3. Make it easy to show people what you’re doing

#1 means thinking deeply about what you enjoy doing. You mentioned script-writing, and understanding how the TV station was set up. There are two things for starters.

#2 means finding an outlet for the thing you’ve identified. If it’s script-writing, start writing a script. If it’s how TV companies work, ask me and whoever else you know to help you learn more about it, watch a load of behind-the-scenes stuff, and read everything you can find that relates to it.

#3 means, usually, creating a record of what you’ve done on the internet. Post the script for others to read, or write a blog about your quest to find out more about how TV stations work.

That probably all sounds idealistic, or impractical, or too much hassle. But if you start by finding something you really care about, it will be interesting and rewarding – and you’ll find it much easier to stand out and get a job.

I can tell you – to some extent from personal experience! – that a lot of people spend a lot of years working on things they don’t care about. It seems to me from our discussions that you’re not 100% sure what you want to do. That’s absolutely fine – most people aren’t. But my advice to you would be to start with something you think you might want to do, and to explore it.

You said yourself that showing an interest is not enough – you need to have experience. I think that you can give yourself that experience if you want to, and that if you do, you will be the one who really stands out.

I hope that’s helpful, and that I’ve made it start to sound practical. I feel like I’ve led two lives for the past few years because I’ve always had personal projects on the go outside of work, trying to explore different ideas and things that I’ve found I like to do. I freely admit that as a result most of my friends think I’m mental (and sometimes I’m inclined to agree!). But they freely admit that they don’t enjoy their jobs, and that they have lots of interests they wish they spent more time pursuing…

So this has got to be worth a try:

1. Find something that you’re really passionate about
2. Do something out of hours that demonstrates your passion for it
3. Make it easy to show people what you’re doing

Good luck!

Author: toddmgreen

I really like making internet projects. I work on apps, games and websites at a TV company. I write stuff, make stuff, and accidentally break stuff. You should probably follow me on Twitter - @toddmgreen.

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