Gen Y: The world is at your fingertips?

By Scot Herrick | Cube Rules Commentary

Jan 16

In the last eight years, Gen Y has come of age and entered the workforce. And what an entrance it was with many having the attitude that their generation will be the next big deal as baby boomers leave the workforce. Gen Y’s services will be in such demand that they will change the way corporations work. With technology and social media, no longer will corporations hold them prisoners in their cubicles.

Worked out pretty well, didn’t it? Um…not so much.

Rhein, the legal assistant, certainly was not prepared.

“Growing up, my parents were telling me, ‘The world is at your fingertips. All you have to do is educate yourself, go to college, and you’d get a prime position right out of school.’ They were wrong.”

They were wrong in that the unemployment rate for those 29 and younger is a whopping 9.8%, almost 3% higher than the national average. And going up against more experienced workers shows that hiring managers want people to step up in the position right away and not be trained on the job.

If you think this is bashing Gen Y, it’s not.

We need to change how corporations are run. We need to change how work is done so that the work provides more satisfaction to those doing the work.

What this does show is the fundamentals of managing a career are not trumped by social media, assumptions about retirement of baby boomers, and being told the world is at your fingertips.

No, we all need to go out and earn our careers.

To be successful — at any age — we need to have the job skills to do the work. We need to perform well in our job. We need to know How to write your performance review to get the performance ratings we deserve. We need to network. We need to have a personal brand that represents not only who we are, but that we get things done. And we need to save for the layoff day so we can keep our castles.

Just because the world is at our fingertips doesn’t mean the world is paying any attention.

  • Dan Erwin says:

    Scot: You really got that right. I suspect a great many of us start out our vocation with a lot of entitlement ideas. The sooner they get exploded and force us to deal with reality, the better.

    • Scot says:

      The longer I go on, the more important the fundamentals become in my thinking. I’m reminded of NFL football coaches who spend time with well seasoned athletes and they still are pointing out how to tackle, how to block, footwork, and how to run routes. All fundamental stuff that needs improving.

      Beyond the fundamentals, though, is this need to change how corporations work and how workers are treated. I was hoping Gen Y would have a few answers for that one and perhaps they still will. Overcoming culture and the status quo (layoff everyone…) is tough.

  • Rebecca says:

    Great post – it’s scary out there, but Gen Y and the world need to come together and make some change, quick!

  • Rick Saia says:

    As a boomer myself, I have faith that Gen Y will change the workplace – and, by extension, society – for the better in the coming years. Since just about everyone learns through experience, I’m sure this low point in the economic cycle will provide them with strong lessons that they can use to help shape the future. I’m surprised about the relatively high unemployment rate Scot cited, but finding yourself suddenly without a job can be a harsh and humbling experience that can test anyone’s mettle.

    • Scot says:

      Hi Rick,

      Yes, I was surprised by the numbers as well, but the are pulled by age group as part of the statistics. This downturn will teach all of us lessons; most of them on how to play defense…

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