first-job.jpgWhile Baby Boomers are falling all over themselves to get Botox and look younger, they may actually want to highlight their wrinkles and gray hair.

Turns out the unemployment rate among the under 30 crowd is well above people in their mid thirties to mid fifties.

According to yet to be published labor data on age from U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate for 20 to 29 years olds in December jumped to 9.8 percent, and is nearly 20 percent for the under 20 crowd. That’s well above the 7.2 percent overall rate. And among the 30 to 39 population that figure was 6.6 percent, and under 6 percent for individuals who were 40 plus.

Why? Turns out experience rules during crummy economic times.

It makes sense. While companies are seeing sales slide they want more seasoned employees, maybe ones that have weathered a past economic downturn, to help them emerge from the recessionary ashes.

I write about the high jobless rate among 20 to 29 years old on MSNBC.com today, and while I was researching the piece I was worried if I’d be able to find enough jobless Gen Yers to talk to.

Well, I was inundated by emails from job seekers under 30 who were wondering what ever happened to the promise of career nirvana for this coveted generation.

Mehgan’s story is pretty typical:

I just turned 26 last month and I have been unemployed since the beginning of November. I graduated from USC had a great job out of college, moved up to LA, switched jobs and definitely thought this could never happened to me. I have learned some valuable lessons and luckily had been taught some good ones prior to this so that I am not yet living on the street. Pride is out the window as you apply for unemployment and tell all your friends and family you were let go hoping that someone has a lead on a job opportunity.

Indeed, pride is out the window for many out-of-work individuals out there right now, no matter what age. But younger folks seem to be struggling the most, and seem to be the most surprised about it, especially if they have a college degree.

“College teaches you everything EXCEPT how to get the job,” says workplace consultant J.T. O’Donnell. “A college degree only gets a Gen Y to the career starting line, but nobody is teaching them how to close the gap on their self-knowledge and career skills so they can add more value and get on track professionally to achieving their goals.”

Dr. Debra Condren, a business psychologist and author of “Ambition Is Not A Dirty Word,” says younger workers tend to want results immediately, without a lot of work.

She shared an example of an email she got from a 22-year-old client after just one week of job searching:

“So I am having ZERO luck locating a job. I have already had 2 interviews and both didn’t hire me :( and I am getting a little depressed. I printed off 20 resumes and just went around to places handing them out, almost handed every single one to different businesses and filled out application after application, and NOTHING. I’m getting a little depressed.”

Alas, people of all age groups are going to have to be a bit more patient than this.

She offers some great insights for all you Gen Yers out there:

I think that some job seekers in the under-30 group need encouragement to understand that a successful job search requires tenacity, nerves of steel–especially
in today’s environment–and, a secret weapon: coming up with an informal advisory board and asking those people for help, being very specific and strategic with what you are asking.

Getting a foot in the door takes time. Get started today. Open your mouth. Let people know that you’re looking, what you have to offer. Get on their radars. Float your resume. Talk with folks in your network, friends of friends, new acquaintances. Put out feelers through your college alumni association. Polish your resume. Build your KaChing! File: print old and new e-mails praising your work; record (writing down) verbal compliments from bosses, clients, colleagues. Write down dates and specifics—projects you spearheaded, internships you thrived in (giving specifics on what you accomplished and the value you added), money you saved your department, clients won—and file it. Tracking your accomplishments as you go makes it easier to sell yourself on paper—and while networking your way into interviews where your story will land a meaningful, challenging job.

Whether you’re employed or unemployed, investigate gold-standard advanced training to be more competitive. Research an advanced degree. Or simply sign up for weekend intensives or short-term accelerated certification programs. Subscribe to your industry trade publications to learn the ins and outs and who’s who of that world; learn to speak your industry’s language with fluency.

Bone up on movers and shakers you read or hear about; study what they’ve published, their accomplishments and what’s written about them. Then phone or e-mail these folks saying, “I admire your work. I have talent and ambition. Would you consider speaking with me for ten minutes on the phone about tips for breaking into your company or about other opportunities you know about?”

Be proactive and patient. You owe it to yourself—and the world—to make the contribution you were born to make.

Words to live by.

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