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Work for free, advertize yourself: How millennials can nab perfect job

By Dan Schawbel, special for CNN
updated 10:55 AM EDT, Thu October 24, 2013
An unempoyed worker holds a up sign on a street corner in Washington, DC.
An unempoyed worker holds a up sign on a street corner in Washington, DC.
  • Large numbers of millennials around the globe are unemployed and despondent about their future prospects
  • Career and workplace expert, Dan Schawbel, highlights eight ways for millennials to recover from economic setback
  • Freelancing, networking and working free for free are all options Schwabel recommends for young job seekers

Editor's note: Dan Schawbel is a career and workplace expert, the founder of Millennial Branding, and the New York Times bestselling author of Promote Yourself. He speaks on the topic of millennials, the future of work and personal branding for companies such as Oracle, IBM, Google, EY and Time Warner.

(CNN) -- Relative to any other generation, millennials are suffering the most right now. The bad economy, that is showing no signs of recovery for 2014, has ended any form of entitlement that they've ever had. Those who have jobs have several friends who are either unemployed or underemployed begging them for help.

In the U.S., millennials are suffering from one trillion in student debt right now and each carries $45,000 in debt. Many have had to work at unpaid internships, if they're lucky enough to find one, and have had to offset them with waitressing and retail jobs just to be able to afford to live.

Founder of Millennial Branding, Dan Schawbel.
Founder of Millennial Branding, Dan Schawbel.

Globally, the unemployment rate for millennials is just as bad if not worse. Data from The Economist shows that 40.6% are either unemployed and inactive in Middle East and North Africa, 31.1% in South Asia, 24.4% in Europe & Central Asia and 23.2% in Latin America.

See also: What CEOs can learn from Mourinho

All of this has postponed both their careers and their personal independence. There is no doubt that millennials will have to work much harder than previous generations to recover. In a new study between my company and, we found that baby boomers are more likely to have always lived on their own after starting their career (95.60%) than Gen X (88.50%) or Gen Y (70.80%).

Here are eight of the best ways for millennials to recover from these economic setbacks, move out from their parents house, and take charge of their career:

1. Do freelance projects in order to build your work portfolio, develop your skills and have case studies to present to hiring managers. Companies are risk averse now and want evidence, in the form of hard results, to see if you're truly capable of performing before they give you a shot. Use sites like to find freelance positions that align to your core skills.

See also: Five ways to resign in style

2. Tap your college alumni database by visiting career services and having them pair you up with someone who is doing exactly what you want to do now or in the future. Don't just ask for them to critique your resume and cover letter because it's their network that will truly help you connect to the right mentors and employers.

3. Conduct an online advertising campaign using Google AdWords, Facebook Social Ads and blogs in order to reach employers in your industry in a creative way. You want to get your name and credentials right in front of the specific people and companies that you want to work for and through these platforms you can reach them.

4. Don't rely on the internet to find work or build your career. Instead, use it to narrow your job search down to the right industries, companies, and positions and then meet professionals who work there at events or one-on-one. You can build a much stronger relationship with someone, and stand out from the crowd, if you meet with them in person.

There is no doubt that millennials will have to work much harder than previous generations to recover
Dan Schawbel, Millenial Branding

5. Diversify your job search so that you aren't relying on one resource, such as job boards. Do everything, including career fairs, social networks, and corporate websites, because you never know what will end up working out for you. By diversifying your career strategy, you're setting yourself up for more opportunities and a better chance of success.

6. Use all of your resources -- even your parents -- to get referred to new opportunities because your peers are already doing it. Every single person in your life can be a bridge to someone who can either hire you, refer you or at least give you some advice on how to get the job you want.

See also: Five reasons the office will become redundant

7. Do free work for authors and consultants because they can make referrals to their corporate clients on your behalf. Don't be afraid of free work because it will lead to paid work in your desired profession. Find authors and consultants by going on Amazon and searching for them based on books categorized by your profession, such as marketing or accounting.

8. Scratch the corporate job and start your own business so that you can make your own hours, be in control and never get laid off. Whether you want to start a blog, an Etsy store, a consulting business or develop your own product, you can create your own income and live a more fulfilling life without having to submit your resume to anyone.

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