Headhunter Tells Millennials How To Land Jobs And Keep Them

By James F. Peltz
Los Angeles Times.

James Citrin is a corporate headhunter at executive search firm Spencer Stuart, where he leads the firm’s work in finding chief executive candidates. He recruited Marissa Mayer to Yahoo Inc., for instance.

But another Citrin passion is the struggle of the “millennial” generation, the 82 million people born between 1981 and 2000, to find and keep jobs.

Many millennials were unlucky to come of age when the Great Recession hit in 2008, and they’re still dealing with a tough job market despite the economy’s recovery. Many also are saddled with college debt.

“Young college graduates’ job prospects have deteriorated dramatically since the start of the Great Recession,” the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank, said in April.

More than 9 million millennials live in California, more than in any state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Citrin, with three children in their 20s, wrote a book called “The Career Playbook” to help millennials, and anyone, for that matter, land jobs and keep them. We asked him to share some advice for job hunters. Here’s an excerpt:

Q: It’s been suggested that millennials looking for work today have it easier than those who tried during the depths of the recession a few years ago. True?

A: The class of 2015 is facing the best millennial job market in a decade, and that’s great. But it’s a two-sided story, because they’re competing against people who have been out of work for the last two or four years and who might have experience in the field.

Q: If the new applicants don’t have that experience but need a job to get the experience, how do they get around that old paradox?

A: When a company says you need two years of experience, they don’t really mean you need two years of experience. They just want something (in your background) for you get off to a running start on the job. So you say, ‘I’ve used my summer vacations for the last two years to work on this or that’ or ‘I started a T-shirt company on campus’ or ‘I started a Web-based business.’ You say I’ve got all these sets of experiences. It’s having the confidence and conviction and storytelling tools to weave your experiences together in a way to enable the hiring manager to see you can solve their problem.

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