With tens of thousands out of work in Alberta and the oil sector still slumping, finding a job can be a tall order for people out of work.
And it can be especially tough for teenagers and young adults, who might have the motivation, but not the experience or connections.
That was evidenced Tuesday as more than 5,000 job seekers between the ages of 15 and 24 lined up outside the Big Four Building at Stampede Park for the 19th annual Youth Hiring Fair, hoping to find work with one of around 90 employers inside.
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Already accepted to the University of Calgary this fall, Moyo Adeniren, 18, was at her first job fair looking for something to help pay for school.
Adeniren said many in her generation understand they'll have to work hard to find jobs as older generations remain in the workforce longer.
"I feel like when we're all getting out of university or we're all getting out of high school, there's this chance of 'we're out of school now, we've done what everyone says is the expectation, so now we're going to simply go in get a job,'" she said.
"But there's still people working who should be retired or want to be retired but they can't because they need work.Then there's no job for us. It's not economics, there's just no place for us to be in."
Adeniren called that frustrating.
"We'll just wait for jobs patiently, but our end goal is to make money, so when there's no jobs, what are you meant to do?" she said.
Important to set yourself apart
The annual Youth Hiring Fair is an initiative of the city's Youth Employment Centre.
Presenting yourself properly, said Jennifer MacSween, a community relations liaison with Youth Employment Centre, can make all the difference.
"Because the market is so competitive, it's really important young people come prepared to an event like this," she said.
"When I say that, I mean dressing to impress. There are going to be employers conducting on-the-spot interviews."
Tailoring a resume to the job you want is also important when looking for work, said MacSween.
"So really zoning in to what position they're applying to, what company they're applying to, and then catering that resume around that particular employer," she said.
Samantha Stibbard, 19, attended the fair for the second year in a row, having recently being laid off from a job it took her months to land.
"It was really hard, I was unemployed for about nine months," she said. "I applied at over 200 places and nobody was calling back."
Along with applying online, Stibbard said she went store to store hoping to land a retail job.
"Presenting myself to the manager and just having a conversation with them, that's as much as you can do," she said. "Calling back, it's just really hard right now."
Young people often get a bad rap of being entitled or lazy, said Stibbard, but that's not always true.
"A lot of people think at this age we're lazy and don't want to go far in life, but we really do, and some people are actually really trying," she said.
Now 24, Duncan Stein found jobs at the Youth Hiring Fair before becoming operations administrator for Brewers Distributor Ltd.
"They need to be able to get that mindset in their head, they are the person who can put themselves forward and differentiate themselves from everyone else," he said.
"They need to have the mindset where they can tell themselves, 'I can do this, I can network with people, I can gain the skills to have employers remember me for more than five minutes in my chat with them.' The hard part is they don't feel like they can gain those skills."