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Looking for employment after high school

By Parris Jones
Special to the Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — Lursa Nobles, a 2013 graduate of Cass Technical High School, says it’s hard for high school graduates to get work. The unemployed 18-year-old says lack of preparation for what it takes to get a job — from constructing a resume to filling out a job application — can be the most challenging.

“It’s hard because you’re not sure exactly what to put (on) it, like (your) experiences,” Nobles said. “Some jobs don’t even require resumes; you just fill out the application. I don’t like filling out applications because they ask for so much and it’s tedious.”

High school graduates usually have hopes of getting a job directly after high school, regardless of whether they remain home or leave for college. But unfortunately, for many, they find themselves unemployable.

The U.S. unemployment rate for youth rose from 2.1 million to 19.5 million from April to July alone in 2012. In Michigan, youth unemployment this year is 16.9 percent. The numbers are high, and teens are struggling.

Marquis Owens, also a recent graduate, says even with the challenges, there are things teenagers can do to help themselves find employment — the most important of which is working on their communication skills.

“Maybe instead of talking to a person like we talk to our friends, we can make our speech sound more presentable. Like, instead of saying stuff like ‘What’s up’ or ‘Yeah,’ you should say ‘Hello,’ ‘Please’ and ‘Goodbye.’”

As Owens stated, teens should use Standard American English, or formal English — not slang. They should also dress professionally and not casually in jeans and T-shirts. Incomplete applications, inexperience, lack of professionalism, as well as middle-aged workers doing jobs normally available to teens, are barriers to teen employment.

More and more middle-aged citizens are working at fast food restaurants. Because of the economy, older adults are struggling to find jobs. With its high turnover rate and convenience in location, the fast food industry is often the first places to look for employment.

As Nobles indicated, teenagers must know how to format their experience and knowledge in a way that appeals to their prospective employers.

Angela Malone, a medical assistant at Physicians for Women OB/GYN in Southfield, is responsible for screening potential employees. She determines if an individual’s skills meet the doctor’s required qualifications. Malone says, however, first impressions and eye contact are key.

“We have to make sure they fit into the realm of the workplace,” she says.


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