October 12, 2020 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
For those new to the job market, the landscape has never looked direr. Between the record levels of unemployment and the nationwide internship cancellations, even the most qualified 2020 graduates are having difficulty finding their paths forward.
The young people graduating today are as capable and clever as ever. Still, many of them lack the resources necessary to get a leg up in their industry. For business leaders, it’s time to start thinking of ways that you can use your experience and seniority to help out those who need it.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t just about generating success for yourself — it’s about building a more prosperous world for everyone. Today’s graduates are tomorrow’s disruptors, so showing them what positive leadership looks like now can have significant impacts for years to come. Here’s what you can do to make that happen.
1. Give them the opportunities you had
Think for a moment about how you got to where you are today. Who stuck their necks out for you? Who gave you the space you needed? What was the first role that put you on the track to success? Every entrepreneur will have different answers to these questions, and that’s a good thing. Everyone has a different path and you should always remember what yours looked like.
In a post-Covid-19 economy, you will likely get applicants that may have a few holes in their resume. Instead of setting these aside, remember that no one was born with a perfect CV. These applicants may have had internships or job offers evaporate at the onset of the pandemic. Take a chance on someone and you can develop a lasting, loyal relationship.
2. Act as a mentor
According to recent market research, 93 percent of young entrepreneurs are looking for guidance from their more experienced counterparts. Since the onset of Covid-19, it’s hard to imagine any young employee turning down the opportunity to learn from someone with insight to share. Your knowledge could be just what some recent graduates need to move forward.
Mentorship can take lots of different forms, from months-long apprenticeships to simply hopping on a video call together every once in a while. Every young employee has a different set of skills and a different knowledge base. Reach out to graduates or young professionals and ask them what you could do to help them along their path. Even if you aren’t in a position to offer them a job, you can always help others develop the life skills that made you successful to begin with.
3. Empower them to control their path
The opportunities you can give recent graduates shouldn’t look like the entry-level positions of the past. There are no coffee cups to fill in the digital workplace or photocopies to make for Zoom meetings. According to studies from the National Bureau of Economic Research, those graduating into a recession are far more likely to take jobs they don’t want with salaries that don’t work for them. You can help buck that trend.
Young workers need to feel ownership over their work. Recent graduates are hungry to prove themselves, so give them a venue to do that. Let your new hires or interns design and execute the projects that interest them. The results will be a more engaged workforce and a more forward-thinking company.
4. Turn the crisis into a crash course
The Covid-19 crisis has posed challenges for businesses across the spectrum. Between supply chain disruptions, skyrocketing internet usage and plummeting ad revenue, no sector was left untouched. Instead of trying to sort through all of the madness yourself, let a recent graduate cut their teeth on these problems.
For example, some companies may have had to completely shift their inventory tracking system to keep up with big demand fluctuations. While those experienced in inventory management might be puzzled by the task, a new graduate can bring a fresh perspective to the issue and save your business in the process. Covid-19 has created a crisis, but you can use it as a teaching opportunity.
5. Connect them to your network
“It’s not what you know; it’s who you know” still rings true. Those hitting the job market now may find themselves without contacts to reach out to or networks to alert about their search. In industries that favor insider status, the absence of a highly-developed network can be a significant obstacle to getting hired.
You may not need their skills now, but you probably have connections who do. If someone approaches your business looking for an opportunity you don’t have, go the extra mile and find someone who might be able to help them. By building up the networks of others, you’re expanding your network, too.
In times like these, it can be easy to think of nothing more than revenue, margins and profits. The best entrepreneurs, however, know that giving back to the younger generation is the key to long-term success. Remember: Businesses don’t grow; people do.
Related: 10 Lessons through Covid-19