Beyond the Build


Will You Give a Hand Up to the Next Generation?

Earlier this month, I wrote a post offering a few hints for those on the job search. It seems especially pertinent in these times, because we as managers are receiving more resumes than usual.

Not a week goes by that I don’t see between 3 and 5 job applications. I would say the majority of them are from graduating college seniors, folks who have worked their whole lives getting that just right degree. Their diligence from the last four years, combined with extracurricular activities, would have made them worthy candidates in good times.

I feel like I have empathy for this younger generation of job seekers, because at their age, I was in a similar situation.

At the age of 24, my fledgling home building business had gone bust. Aside from feeling depressed I was broke and without a job. I talked with my father who in turn reached out to our preacher who in turn reached out to a large construction company owner in town. I got a job. While those were stressful times, I will never forget this man’s generosity of help. Never.  It’s because of his mentoring and his hands on assistance with my job search that I was able to move on to the career I now enjoy.

I believe that as people established in our businesses, we owe it to the young folks out there to treat their resumes with respect and help them where we can. After all, someone did it for us.

As business owners and hiring managers, these are my recommendations for helping our next class of leaders:

If a letter is sincere, respond.  I tell the applicant that I wish we could make the hire, but unfortunately we cannot.

Give words of encouragement, if they are deserved. If their resume looks solid, and most of the time it does, I tell them there is the just right job out there. They will just have to be patient in finding it.

Make a suggestion for another place to seek work. I suggest they consider modifying their job search. Because of the economic cycle, perhaps they should consider something that may not fit exactly with their degree but will sustain them for the next two or three years until the economy heals.

Make time to meet them. You might be surprised how much it will benefit you as well.

We do this because we care. What if this young person was my son or daughter? How would I like someone else to react to them?

During these times, while we are all looking for those projects that are scarce, we also have an obligation to help those around us do the best that they can. Maybe next time the shoe will be on the other foot. Will you pay it forward?

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.