I know a lot of young people who are unemployed. The advice I want to give them is this. You are unemployed because you’re an entitled little prick with no practical skills or experience. You don’t have any skills because you wasted four years in college listening to some quack drone on and on about psychology or post-modernism or a way too theoretical economic model. (And before that you were memorizing useless facts and studying for arbitrary tests like the SAT because you lacked any intellectual curiosity or sense of adventure.) So just shut up you loser and either get fit or jump off a bridge. Instead, I just say: Keep trying, friend. It’s hard out there. You’re doing the best you can. You’re smart, it will work out!
I have a job. A pretty good job at a respectable global corporation. And where I work, we’re always hiring people. We’re always hiring people because people with solid work ethics, superior cognitive skills, and ambition are so hard to find. So the moment that we find someone with all three, we drop everything and recruit em’. But out of the hundreds of resumes we get every week, rarely is even one up to our standards enough to entice a follow-up. And we’re frustrated because we can’t find enough great people. And young people are frustrated because they don’t have jobs? What the hell?
So to try and bridge this gap, here is some advice. From a cranky 29-year-old making a decent living to all you bright-eyed 20-somethings out there, here’s what to do. Most of this advice is targeted at young people who came from families not in poverty, perhaps it will be relatable to other people though too.
Stop denying you messed up. Accept it and move forward.
If you’re young and jobless, fess up. Admit the reason you’re not employed is your fault. You can’t blame the economy. You can’t blame your parents. You can’t blame the person interviewing you for the job. You can’t blame being duped by the education system. You must get out of the victim mentality. You messed up and the upside of the fact that you messed up is that you now have the opportunity to fix it. So take the blame. Then turn the lemon that is your life into lemonade.
Get realistic about your goals, Buzz Lightyear.
Millions of people want to be in the NBA. But only 500 or so people make the NBA every year. And you know what? Half those players are on the bench all the time. This is how everything works and odds are that you aren’t talented enough to make it as a writer, a top-tier surgeon or lawyer, entrepreneur, NBA player or whatever. You’re probably not special, so stop looking for the perfect job and just get a job, any job, even if it means moving to Idaho to pick potatoes. (Then, when you finally have a job, you may start looking for a better one.)
Listen to gangster rap.
Seriously. Turn off Radiohead and The Arcade Fire and play some 50 Cent, Puff Daddy, Eminem, Trillville, Trick Trick, Rick Ross, etc. Jonah Peretti, the founder of Buzzfeed, made this point once on Twitter saying, “…investing tip: Always back founders who listen to hip hop & avoid entrepreneurs who like indy rock.” It’s a solid point. You need a soundtrack that encourages you to, you know, “get rich or die trying” not “let the sun soak away your dread.” Let’s do a quick compare and contrast.
Here is a lyric from Arcade Fire:
Some people say, we’ve already lost,
But they’re afraid to pay the cost for what we’ve lost.
Now that you have left me here,
I will never raise my voice.
All the diamonds you have here,
In this home which has no life.
Uhuh… Right… Now here is a lyric from Puff Daddy and the crew:
Excellence is my presence, never tense
Never hesitant, leave a nigga bent real quick
Real sick, brawl nights, I perform like Mike
Anyone – Tyson, Jordan, Jackson.
I’m not here
This isn’t happening
I’m not here, I’m not here
Yeah… That’s not what your unemployed ass needs to hear right now… How about some Wiz Khalifa:
Make sure you do what whatever is that you gotta do, that’s your job
And niggas gon’ hate but that’s no prob’
So hey fuck ‘em don’t need nothing from ‘em
Some niggas talking but the shit they claiming don’t mean nothing…
Since I was young enough to know that everybody was gonna know me
You need lyrics that ignite you with fire and confidence, not existential audio poetry.
Work For Free!!!
Working for free is the best way to jumpstart your career. You know how you paid money to go to college, to hopefully land some work? Well working for someone who actually makes money, opposed to a deranged professor can teach you a lot too. Or even just get you needed exposure. But this one comes with a disclaimer: Most people who want you to work for free are jerks and don’t care about you (like your teachers in college). So spend time trying to find the right place to work for free with a boss who actually cares about your advancement; however, if you really have no real world skills you might not be in the position to be so picky. Suck it up.
Become an autodidact.
Stop listening to other people. Explore your interests and figure out what you love and become a master of it. Then someone will hire you in that field, or better yet you will just create your own company. THIS SOUNDS SO OBVIOUS. DUH. BUT YEAH YOU NEED TO BE REMINDED BECAUSE YOU AREN’T MASTERING ANY NEW SKILLS READING THOUGHT CATALOG. GO LEARN WOODWORKING, CHINESE, CSS. And if you want to listen to someone, listen to people who are actually making a difference. Consider Nick Denton, Seth Godin, and Paul Graham.
Don’t be ashamed of your privilege.
People all around the world are starving. If you have food and shelter, you’re a privileged asshole. If you went to college, you’re a super-privileged asshole. Don’t feel guilty about it. That does nothing but make you more repugnant for being ungrateful. I’m not saying to be a prick about it, just take advantage of what you have been blessed with. Does your dad have a good job? Well don’t think it’s cheating to take an internship there. It’s not. Your ancestors worked hard to get your genetic material where it is today and probably had to do a lot of really, really awful things to make it happen; so, don’t be a brat – cash in on nepotism (it runs the world anyway – because honestly most of us are average and there is no way to differentiate cognitive skills – so we choose who we know).
KEEP THIS IN MIND: THINGS ARE ONLY GOING TO GET WORSE.
Realize human labor is becoming increasingly irrelevant. People bemoan Walmart because they don’t pay their human workers enough? In the future Walmart will have no workers, none at all; it will just have robots handling everything, like Amazon does. Even truck drivers and cabbies will disappear with robotic cars. Everything will be automated and the middle class will be destroyed and the only people who will be able to make a good living will be a very advanced cognitive elite with an incredible work ethic. You’re competing with robots. Oh, and some super smart woman in India who is grateful for $8.00 an hour because this job will allow her to feed her family. It ain’t getting easier. Don’t hide from this truth. Deal with it.
Get Out There.
Stop working on your resume and looking for jobs and go talk to successful people and ask for their advice. Ask them questions. Don’t tell them about your plight. Just ask them about what they did and how they did it. Then, when you’re done, if appropriate, ask if they know anyone who you should talk to. Don’t be looking for a job (you should already have one washing dishes or working at Target) – just look for a general, genuine connection with someone who might be able to help you down the line. Plant seeds and realize most people you talk to are full of shit – but as they say, you call it shit but a dog calls it something fun and tasty!
Truth is: Having money and a job sucks anyway. It just means you need to be responsible and accountable. And who wants that? Not you.