Kinda… Like… and Career Mechanics for Gen Ys (and Baby Boomers too!)

29 November, 2015

OK – time for some frightening stats! 91% of Gen Ys expect to stay in a job for less than three years, according to the Future Workplace “Multiple Generations @ Work” survey. That means they are likely to have 15 – 20 jobs

over the course of their working lives!

In addition, top talent is increasingly mobile; they live and work their way around the world.

It’s easy to predict where this is going. In the future we will see a huge trend towards ‘work on demand’. Just like in Hollywood, teams will come together to work on a project, they’ll work together for six to twelve months and at the end of the project, everyone goes their separate ways.

Not Just On Board but Thriving

Oddly enough, latest research points to the fact that Gen Ys relish this unstructured career life (I daren’t call it a path, as it’s nothing like so structured as that!)

Overwhelming evidence suggests that millennials tend to prefer short-term employment over long-term stability. “Job hopping” is the term. And, they’re on their own.  None of the other 3 generations currently in the workplace have the same enthusiasm for this career approach.

In fact to a Baby Boomer like me, all this can sound quite scary. And, I’m probably a natural risk taker, given that I’ve worked for myself for more than 15 years now. 

What does it all mean?

Even if you are a more sedate Boomer or Gen X and don’t want to operate this way yourself, it’s likely that one of your younger loved ones espouses this modus operandi.

So, what are the implications of this from an “I’d like to sleep at night without worrying where my next pay cheque will come from” perspective?

My first thoughts are that if you or your loved ones are frequent job hoppers, you’ll need high level career skills to thrive.

Ask yourself the following questions…

1.       How articulate am I?

I recently worked with a dynamic Gen Y – he was stylish, so enthusiastic and SEEMED to know his stuff.  I say “seemed” with some element of doubt because that was not actually what he conveyed.  His “like” count was one in four, as in every fourth word was “like”. 

Another repeated phrase was “kinda” as in “I’m kinda interested in IT programming.”  He was actually 27 years of age but sounded more like a naive 21 year old. 

The final issue that prevented him from sounding articulate was his extremely restricted vocab.  Actually, now that I come to think of it, I have no idea how extensive his vocabulary was/is.  He may have known more words than you can poke a stick at, but any listener would have no idea.

The Message: You’ll find it much easier to hop around if you are able to easily and smoothly articulate your value to a prospective employer. 

2.       Am I outstandingly good at selling (myself)?

If you are applying for a role in the Visible Job Market i.e. where the job is advertised to all and sundry, job instability on your résumé could put your dream job at risk.

Recruiters and HR Managers are wary of résumés filled with 1-2-year stints. They would probably question your motivation, skill level, engagement and ability to get along with other colleagues.

They worry they’ll become the next victims of your “hit-and-run” approach.  To them, losing an employee after a year means wasting precious time and resources on training before that investment pays off. Plus, many recruiters may assume that you didn’t have time to learn much at a one-year job.

So, you’re going to need to be outstandingly good in all aspects of the selling process to overcome this hurdle in the Visible Job Market.

The Message: You will need to be able to construct powerful marketing documents (Cover Letters, Résumés and LinkedIn profiles) in order to get a foot in the door.  And, once you make the interview list, your ability to demonstrate persuasive Interview skills will also be critical.

3.      Am I brave enough to tackle the Hidden Job Market?

An often-quoted statistic is that 80% of roles are never advertised.  Without quibbling about exact numbers, you get the message.

Attacking the Hidden Job Market is perfect for those employees who don’t fit neatly into advertised roles. It allows your buyer to evaluate you with no pressure.  You are (presumably) a living, breathing, appealing human being they are having a casual chat to. It allows you to sell transferable skills and to overcome any resistance they may have to your transitory job record.

Sipping Champagne or Pounding the Pavement?

At a minimum, it would help if you were comfortable with stock standard networking.  You know what I mean – constantly attending functions and seminars with a view to extending your reach of contacts.

An even more useful skill to master is Job Search networking.  Not only is it more effective, but very few people are skilled or brave enough to undertake it.  So, you reap a huge benefit by having the intestinal fortitude to pick up the phone.

The Message: If you want to have an unconventional career “path”, it makes sense to use an unconventional job search method to uncover your next role.

Some opt for an easier life

Of course an easier option for those Gen Ys who want ultimate flexibility could well be to embrace freelancing.

According to a recent article in The Australian, almost one-third of the Australian workforce (about 4.1 million people) did freelance work in the past year and most who left traditional employment now earn more than in their previous full time role.  These stats come from a survey commissioned by the Silicon Valley-based freelance talent marketplace Upwork.

“On a per capita basis, Australian businesses hire more freelancers than any other developed Western economy.” Upwork’s senior vice-resident of international, Rich Pearson, told The Australian.

Kyri Theos, Regional Director for Asia-Pacific for the other major player in the space, Freelancers.com, said that Australian freelancers earned an estimated $51 billion from freelancing last year, and a third expected their income to rise this year. 

Not such a generation gap after all

What might come as a surprise is that Baby Boomers are embracing this new job trend.  Kyri Theos reported that 33 % of Australian freelancers were over 55.

The study found 72 % of Australian freelancers were confident they would be able to maintain their current standard of living after retirement.  And most (89 %) said they would consider freelancing after they retired to earn additional income.

So maybe Gen Y and Baby Boomers have more in common than we all think!

Regardless, this brave new world will require a new set of job marketing skills, and a new approach. 

Are you ready?

 

aBOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Cunningham is Adelaide's leading career expert.  She appears regularly in The Weekend Australian Careers section, in The Advertiser's CareerOne, as well as in online publications such as news.com.au, thenewdaily.com.au and womensagenda.com.au

The Career Consultancy Pty Ltd
Suite 220, 147 Pirie Street
Adelaide  SA  5000
T: 08 8223 6011
F: 08 8223 6411
E: admin@careerconsult.com.au