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The Recession Won’t Hit Generation Y (And Take Advantage of That)

This article was written by in Career and Work. 11 comments.


Penelope TrunkAbout the author: This article was written by Penelope Trunk, columnist at The Boston Globe and author of Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success. Penelope is the CEO of Brazen Careerist, an online career center for Generation Y and network of over 50 bloggers.

Maybe the recession is here, but do you want to know what the top worry is among chief financial officers? Recruiting. That’s right.

Dearth of talented, young, willing workers

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu says the next 10 years will be an employee-driven market, because of a whole host of demographics issues, from boomers leaving the workforce to fewer Generation Yers being interested in corporate life. Its consulting group released a survey of firms this week that identified a shortage of skilled and talented workers as their greatest concern.

Young people are in such high demand right now that they start to look sort of savvy when sources such as MTV report only 17 percent of Generation Y is worried about the economy. Take Renee Glowacki. She has an entry level job in Boston, which can’t be easy given the cost of living in the city, but she is optimistic things will get better for her.

She’s at Patni Computer Systems, an IT company that does global outsourcing. Glowacki went to this firm because it’s growing and creating opportunities for employees. Certainly no recessionary situation. And she is making one of the most profound statements of economic optimism — spending money on expensive food. Yes, its Restaurant Week, so dining out is cheaper. But Glowacki’s attitude that you live for now and figure things out as you go is typical of her generation, and understandable given they are relatively immune from a recession.

Young people will not have a problem finding jobs.

Wanted: Generation Y

Some of you — those who read this with mouths wide open in disbelief — are saying that many industries are totally tanking and there is no way employers are hunting down young people like starving animals. But check out the National Association of Manufacturers campaign to recruit young people. The campaign is called “Dream it. Do it” and it cost $70 million. Manufacturing is no exception: there’s huge difficultly finding skilled young people for jobs.

Or how about real estate? Sure, your home prices are tanking, but many young people don’t own homes. And in terms of jobs in the real estate sector, many real estate agents are older. Given this demographic reality, you don’t need a great housing market to provide great career opportunities for young real estate agents.

How to take advantage

So there’s lots of chatter about how people can recession-proof their careers. But what should young people do, when their golden demographics make them recession proof already? Job hop, of course.

The best thing you can do early in your career is move around a lot so you can figure out what you’re good at and what you like. If you compare people who job hop with people who don’t, people who job hop build their network faster, build their skill set faster, and are more engaged in their work.

That’s right, before you start screaming about corporate loyalty, companies actually get more passionate work out of people who are in the first two years at a company than people who have been there a while and plan to stay longer. It makes sense: If you don’t need to get another job anytime soon, then you don’t need to perform well in the next six months. You can coast. Job hoppers don’t coast or their resume will look bad.

So, young people should take advantage of the fact that they are in high demand and make sure to leave a job as soon as their learning curve flattens. Older people – especially those who have lived through terrible job markets, which includes everyone older than Gen Y – will tell you to be cautious and grateful. These are not inherently bad traits, but they are bad if they instill complacency in a job market that is not demanding that of you.

Some of you will find yourselves gunning for jobs in areas hit particularly hard by the recession. Investment banking, for example, used to be very difficult to break in to, and now, with cutbacks for summer interns, investment banking is insanely difficult to get into.

But so what? What are you going to do with that investment banking experience? Leave, probably. Because the hours are terrible and the work is totally inflexible and driven (at all hours of the day and night) by the client. So you will leave banking to do something that sustains your goals for family and friends. Why not just leave now? It’s very competitive — no need to put up with that. Go to an equally interesting field that is not going to require you to take clients to strip clubs.

Tech is hot. Healthcare is hot. And you don’t need to be a software developer or changer of bed pans. In fact, any tech company or healthcare company needs sales people and marketing people, and accountants, and all the other types of people who could, possibly, get stuck in an underperforming company, but clearly have the ability to change sectors without dumping their expertise.

So figure out what your skills are, what you love to do, what you’re great at. Job hop until you are sure. Or as sure as someone can be at the beginning of his or her career. Then go to a sector that is booming, which is most sectors if you are blessed to be born to Gen Y.

If you enjoyed this article, visit Penelope Trunk’s blog or subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed for more insight on Generation Y and workplace issues of the 21st century. We would appreciate comments and reactions, so if you would like to contribute to the conversation, add your comment below.

Published or updated March 31, 2008. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Tom

At last! Someone got it right about us! Company loyalty means nothing to Gen Y and that’s a good thing! I was at my last job for 2 years, I only plan on being at my current job for 2-3 years (w/ internal rotations every year). I don’t plan on settling down for another 6 years. I want to live in other parts of the country, I want to work many different jobs, I want to build a huge network, I am part of Gen Y.

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avatar Emily

Where I see your point; however, I do think it is irresponsible that my generation is not thinking about the future. They think that everything will work out for them, but with no savings and credit card debt they will have a very hard time. I also do not understand why my generation does not care about saving for retirement. It should be a top priority from a young age to save at least 10 percent of your income for retirement. I would encourage even more. Honestly, I am scared for the future of our country and my generation, with the apathy towards the government, people only thinking about the now and not considering our future will have detrimental effects. And give me a break, I have plenty of friends who CANT find jobs right away. Where do you get your information?

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avatar AKnapp

So there’s lots of chatter about how people can recession-proof their careers. But what should young people do, when their golden demographics make them recession proof already? Job hop, of course.

The best thing you can do early in your career is move around a lot so you can figure out what you’e good at and what you like. If you compare people who job hop with people who don’t, people who job hop build their network faster, build their skill set faster, and are more engaged in their work.As someone who hires people for a high-tech company on a regular basis, let me tell you that nothing is more damaging on a resume than someone who switches jobs every year or two. Most high-tech firms I’ve worked at and work with are looking to hire with a 5+ year window for employment, and we’re not going to waste our time training somebody who’s only going to stick around for a year.

Here’s a word of advice for those looking to build a career: listen to hiring managers and people who’ve been in the industry for awhile and have input on hiring decisions–not freelance writers who don’t actually HOLD a job.

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avatar Ally

I’ve done the job hopping and have figured out what I”m good at. I went back to school and got graduate degrees from really good schools. And I can’t find a job!! Everyone says I’m either too qualified, or that I’m all over the place and won’t even take a chance on me (which really is stupid, because diverse work experience has its perks).

I agree that job hopping and all is very good for improving yourself (you do get to taste several things and learn SO much…and you can bring a lot to the table), but it seems like the older generations who are making all the hiring decisions are traditional, and they won’t take someone who job hops, however good or smart they are.

So guys, just beware!!

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avatar Tom

@Ally

I agree, I think job hopping in this market should only be done if you already have a new job lined up.

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avatar Curt

The outsourcing trend has created a gap between the generations. We don’t understand each other. It’s hard to hire someone that you don’t understand.

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avatar Heidi

I agree to a certain extent with the idea of job-hoppping… I think it’s a great way to get to know what you really want to be doing, as well as developing your skills and adding to your knowledge base.

That being said, employers don’t want to spend the time training someone who isn’t going to be around, and if your resume reflects job-hopping, they may not want to take a chance on you.

One way around this? Look for jobs through a temp agency… you can try out different “careers”, but your resume shows you working for the same company for an extended period of time. As long as you job-hop through the approved channels, you can gain all of the benefits without being stuck with the stigma :)

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avatar Will

I agree (in part) with the job hopping, but the 2 year window seems awfully short to me. Well it depends on the industry.

Having been a loan officer, I can definitely tell you that you don’t get a “comfortable” with a client portfolio before a year or so. That’s when most clients will feel comfortable enough around you to call you up first instead of your competitor and offer you their business.

So yes, job hopping has its advantages, but it seems to me like it’s better suited to occupations where your technical knowledge plays a larger part in your performance than your interpersonal skills.

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avatar David Mackey

I’m wondering how much of this is a need for labor in skilled professions rather than any profession in general. For example, while IT and manufacturing may continue to need young workers – what about retail and fast food?

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avatar Me

One main reason companies are looking for younger workers is because they are cheaper. As for the example of Renee Glowacki: she is scary. All Ms. Glowacki needs to experience are layoffs before she changes her live for the moment ways. I have been laid off twice, I know to plan for the rainy day because it will rain.

As for the “shortage” of skilled workers – that is hogwash. It is amazing how people will flock to your company for jobs when you actually offer a competitive salary.

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avatar SavingDiva

I see a lot of job looking for people with a lot of credentials, which young workers wouldn’t necessarily have. I agree with some of the arguments, but I don’t think any one is immune…especially not young people that don’t have a solid emergency fund built.

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