Generation Z: Are You Ready to Get Your First Job?

To all the recent graduates – congratulations! Graduating from college comes with a whole host of emotions: excitement about finishing school, sadness over leaving your friends and certainly apprehension around finding the right job. While some of your fellow graduates may already have jobs, many are still looking. But don't worry – you're entering the job market when unemployment is the lowest we've seen in your lifetime. If there was ever an opportune time to begin a career, it's certainly now.


This year, some of the oldest members of Generation Z will be graduating from college and entering the job market. This means that organizations will be hiring a whole new cohort of employees – but what they are looking for from a potential candidate remains consistent. While recruiters certainly have specific qualities or skills in mind for the position they are hiring for in today's digital environment, those of us who have been around the block know a thing or two about how to get a job, digital literacy aside.


So here's some important advice so you're ready to navigate the world of interviews, resumes, job references and hopefully – of getting hired.


1. Clean up your social media.

Generation Z is known as the generation that grew up on social media. Your life has been on public display since you were playing youth sports in middle school.


Now is the time to sift through those old Facebook posts, Instagram pictures, tweets and maybe even your Pinterest board and make sure your public social media profiles are … work appropriate. By no means should you feel the need to delete your social media, but you should wade through your old posts. A good rule of thumb in this scenario is "Would your grandmother approve of this?" If the answer is no, it's time to delete it, or mark it as private.


2. Embrace your early work experience.


According to a PayScale report, while nearly 90 percent of new graduates feel they're more than ready for the workforce, only half of hiring managers agree. You're going to have to fight an uphill battle and prove those hiring managers wrong.


One way you can do this is through talking up your early work experience. If you've worked in retail, explain how you problem-solved when dealing with disgruntled customers and how you used your people skills to increase your sales volume. Or if you've already been an intern in the field you are interested in, explain what you learned on the job and how you assisted more senior members of the company in better fulfilling their roles.


3. Gather your references.


References may seem old school, but they are actually far from it. References provide valuable insights that an employer can't get anywhere else – not from a resume, an interview or even a personality test – so employers rely heavily on the information gathered from these sources.


If you have prior job experiences, you can always ask your old bosses to be references for you. Whether you were an intern at a marketing agency or a barista at your university's coffee shop, a past boss can provide unique information about your actual performance on the job. You should also feel empowered to ask the leaders where you volunteer to be your reference. Passion for others and for social change is always important, no matter the career you are interested in.


But if you don't have any work experience, feel free to reach out to your college professors. Your teachers know better than most about your work ethic, your attention to detail and even your punctuality – all traits that employers are very interested in hearing about.