How Gen-Y Is Creating A New Norm To Deal With A Tough Job Market

“Good on paper” doesn’t just refer to how your Friday night date stacks up on the roster. To be good on paper when it comes to a career, is to have relevant experience in the workplace, a well-rounded list of extracurricular activities, a degree in the field, some techy credentials and previous internship experience, amongst a slew of other qualifications that may earn you brownie points with any potential employer.

Being good on paper doesn’t necessarily get you noticed, but it does ease you into the “maybe” pile of applicants, wherein, at the very least, you’ll probably get an interview.

That’s your chance, your shot at standing out, making an impression and showing them that there’s more to you than three pages of type, a cover letter and a short list of references.

On the other side of the fence are the “bad on paper” types. You might assume these people never took school or career development seriously and likely are now just getting what they deserve in the mess of applying for work you are technically “underqualified” for. But that's not always the case.

Case in point: I was a great student and got straight A’s throughout high school. I come from a family of self-made success stories, doctors and entrepreneurs.

I was raised with the values of hard work and dedication to a cause. I’m not lazy and I’ve always been aware of where my priorities should lie in order to secure a stable future for myself.

There were no obstacles that kept me from going to the right college, getting the right degree and landing the right job... Well, maybe just one obstacle: myself.

In high school it’s so easy to follow the structure assigned to you, go with the grain somewhat mindlessly and enjoy the social scene that is secondary schooling. College presents something very different.

Suddenly you have to decide where you want to go in life and you have all the freedom in the world. At this point I realized I hadn't yet taken the time to figure out what I truly want out of life and even worse, time was still passing on anyway.

While it passed, I lived my life on a 24-hour clock, doing what would bring me the most resolution within that day. I went looking for immediate answers since I had no clue of what my long-term questions should be.

I didn’t necessarily make the right moves and definitely ended up with a résumé that reads like the ever-changing career ambitions of a pre-schooler.

In spite of all this flip-flopping, I still never failed to live my life, learn my lessons and acquire some very practical life skills.

However, as it goes, these skills, in partnership with a lack of experience relevant to my newfound career ambitions, puts me in a complicated bracket.

It's a limbo of sorts where I am able to obtain and excel at positions that I soon outgrow, but am unable to score the face time with employers hiring jobs that interest me because I just can’t make that résumé-based “maybe” pile.

This dilemma clearly has a simple solution: Go back to school, work your way up with companies that are in line with your goals and fight like hell to do what you love, now that you finally know what that is. Really, that’s the key, isn’t it?

You can only truly find fulfillment in life when you are so confident in your purpose and goals that suddenly your vocation becomes your vacation.

The journey toward that place can be everything from exhilarating to scarring, but once you’re there, it's nirvana.

I have no real regrets about my life thus far, and while I used to harbour a genuine envy for those good-on-paper types, I now simply feel a deep respect for those people who have always been confident in their blueprint.

I must admit I feel conflicted with the knowledge that a piece of paper, be it a degree or résumé, can often give others a carte blanche to define who you are. But I revel in the fact that we alone are responsible for how far we’ve come and we alone decide how far we will go.

There is no template on which I can categorically list my life and no format that makes me, as one might say, "easier to read."

We all face obstacles, but there are no rules to this thing called life. Find what you want to do and do it. If it doesn’t exist, create it. If you don’t make the list, re-write it.

Photo Courtesy: Garett Fisbeck/ The Oklahoman