When I graduated from college, my priorities were: getting a job doing something I loved, having opportunities for advancement and making enough money to pay the rent.
Not so different from what Generation Y wants now, is it? And, I have even more in common with them: I needed a job when the economy was basically in the toilet. I know what it feels like to look for work when employers are cutting back.
At the same time, I know those tough times taught be a lot of valuable lessons. I decided to look into what the impact -- if any -- this difficult job market will have on young workers. Here's the column I did for Gannett:
They have been called unflattering names such as the “Entitlement Generation” or “Generation Me,” but young people seeking jobs these days may have a new name: realistic.
Often known has Generation Y, these young people for years have turned companies and recruiters inside out as they demanded jobs for more pay and more opportunities. With their technology skills and great social networking abilities, GenY ( born roughly between 1980-2003) previously have found employers willing to meet their expectations.
But then the recession hit and unemployment soared to more than 10 percent. Like the rest of job hunters, Generation Y has found jobs can be tough to come by, even with their skills. That has caused what some might term an attitude adjustment.
“This is now a more grown up generation,” says Dan Finnigan, CEO of Jobvite.
Finnigan says recruiters, who often called young job seekers “challenging,” now report Generation Y job candidates are more willing to compromise on salaries or job duties.
In a recent survey, Jobvite found that before the recession, more than 60 percent of GenY candidates wanted a higher compensation than offered. Today, more than 50 percent of candidates say they will take the salary offered. Further, now almost one-third of applicants are trying to get jobs below their skills level, a jump of 25 percent from the pre-recession level.
“Employers just don’t have the time or patience for a generation that is so picky,” Finnigan says. “This generation is not pushing back as much as they did before.”
The National Association of Colleges and Employers, an organization of career counselors, says that employers will hire 22 percent fewer college graduates than last year. The question is whether the tough times being experienced now by this younger generation will forever change their attitudes – or be just a momentary blip in their career plans.
“This generation of workers is still highly desirable because of their skills in technology and their (social media) connections,” Finnigan says. “Employers are always going to need new blood, and that’s not going to change. But do they (GenY) have less of an attitude? Yes. And that’s a good thing.”
That “attitude” is what often has driven a generational wedge between workers. Some older workers see the young employees as wanting advancement and opportunities too quickly without paying their dues. Some younger workers see practices in today’s workplace as outdated and ineffective.
Wayne Hochwarter, a Florida State University professor who studies the workplace, says that despite the bad economy and many college graduates unable to land their desired jobs, the changes within the generation may not be that profound in the short or long term.
“I don’t know that young people’s attitudes have changed a lot, but maybe they’re more prone to say, ‘Well, it isn’t utopia, but I can make it work for me,’” Hochwarter says. “They understand they’re not going to get exactly what they want right now.”
Hochwarter says that many college students on his campus seem unfazed by the bad job numbers and tough economic times. “Of course, you have the one group who is gung-ho, but realistic. They’re paying attention and taking all the opportunities they can to make contacts (for jobs). Then, you have the other group sitting on the sidelines, just out of it.”
He says the group that is “unwilling and unable” to do more to gain entry into the working world is often supported by parents who tell them to “just wait out the recession” by staying in school.
“I don’t think the recession is really going to affect this generation all that much. They’ve been ingrained all their lives with the attitudes they have, and employers are still going to want them because they’re cheaper to hire than older workers and they have in-demand skills.”
“But are they going to be different? I kind of doubt it. You take the skin off a cucumber and it’s still a cucumber,” Hochwarter says.
Do you think this job market will have any impact on Generation Y?