A recent Wall State Journal article has labeled our unemployed teens and young adults “generation jobless.” As I read the article, I begin to realize that every story, much like this one, has a beginning, a middle and an ending. My career story is rather simple: I started working part-time in high school, I worked full-time post high school while attending college, and eventually, I started a business while working full-time. Headlines such as these can either motivate readers to act or can leave them feeling hopeless and dejected. Young adults may be challenged finding employment, but there is hope for them and a happy ending to their story is possible.

For those of you who are out of school and looking for work, there are a couple of things to consistently focus on that will have an impact on how your story ends. The first point of focus is branding. It has been said that a person has 10 seconds or less to make a first impression. At no point in time should you contribute to negative publicity surrounding your brand. This means texting, social media, your appearance, your friends, and your grades-everything that you can control that pertains to your brand should be assessed often. Some of our temporary decisions have permanent consequences and your brand will speak for you in the moments when you aren’t able to speak for yourself. My mother used to tell me that a bad reputation is something that never goes away. As a young adult, I was friendly and some would even say social, but I was conscious of the impacts of ruining my reputation. It wasn’t worth it then and it certainly isn’t worth it now.

My last point of focus is the word “better”. Have you ever heard someone say that better days are ahead? In the moment, we can either believe that better days are ahead or that our current situation will never change. While some are telling us that a generation of young adults are jobless, others are telling us about students who are entrepreneurs. While some are telling us that students are dropping out of school; others are reporting that students are studying abroad. I believe the best is yet to come if your mindset is “better” and if you’re willing to try. Jobs are available and sometimes we have to make choices based on our needs and not what it is we want. Continue to assess and build your brand, know that better is available to you, and write your story in such a way that the ending ultimately pleases you.

Ericka Spradley is the President and Founder of My Next Level. She has many years of leadership experience and her understanding of the multi-faceted leadership realm has provided a level of expertise in human resource management and career growth. Among her significant accomplishments, Ericka has served as Vice President of Professional Development with The National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Strayer University Chapter, she was a columnist for Classroom to Cubicle, an online magazine for college students, and she is currently a Yahoo! Contributor columnist. In addition, her works have been found in Today’s Charlotte Woman and she has also been quoted by The Charlotte Observer.