The new reality of job seeking

In view of the business downturn, young workers nowadays entering the workforce must contend with a different world.

Formerly, jobs were plentiful and business made great efforts to recruit new employees. Currently, prospects are much less favourable. Very few firms are hiring anyone, and in fact are cutting back on staff; youngsters must realize that.

According to an article in The Economist, the head of recruitment for a law firm noticed that candidates "seemed to think that the world owed them a living. Many applicants expected the law firm to promote itself rather than the other way around." However, recently the tone has changed from, "What can you do for me?" to, "Here’s what I can do for you."

In general, the unemployment rate among people in their 20s has been rising sharply and certain industries, notably in the finance and technology sectors, have been reducing their labour force, foreclosing avenues of employment. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that job expectations among young graduates have plummeted.

Managers are being confronted by changed circumstances. Perhaps because young people are finding it harder to hop to new jobs, dissatisfaction is growing. Hard-pressed firms are compelled to adopt a more dictatorial approach to management. Young workers prefer a more open, collaborative style; they shun the "pressure cooker" office and factory atmosphere that has prevailed in many places of employment.

Quite naturally, there is an image of young workers who are trying to avoid hard work, and who seemed to think that they know more about how to proceed than their bosses. One company president told this columnist that he hired only very young, inexperienced workers because others argued about the best way to do things – too much “back talk.”

The business recession inevitably will entail workers taking on additional tasks, long hours, and possibly a great deal of travel if they want to hang on to their jobs.

A young staff may be compliant in view of the grim job picture. Managers can attract young workers if they believe they are important, and that their help is needed. They usually are flexible and eager to move to new roles, while older workers may find it harder to do.

Young people are readily at home with new technology and may come up with advanced ways to boost sales, using the web and other means. They may have a youthful insight and dream up additional ways of marketing products and services.

Young workers will be attracted to managers who value their opinions, but of course, they do not want an employee who is argumentative and a “know-it-all.”

Altogether this is an entirely new world for both young workers and for managers. They both must adapt to this new reality in this tumultuous era that could extend far into the future.


Bruce Whitestone