Which Generation Is Losing The Career Fight? (It's Not Who You Think)

By J.T. O'Donnell I recently attended a dinner party where the attendees ranged in age from 23 to 68. Not surprisingly, the conversation turned to the recession and horrible job market. The more 'seasoned' workers at the table started to rant about their circumstances. The dialog drifted from the lack of raises given out at their companies to the various friends whose spouses had lost their jobs and how it was making finances tight in their households. The 23-year old, a recent grad, sat silent. I turned to her and asked, "What do you think about all this." She said, "Well, I have no experience, have applied to a ton of jobs, but all I've been able to do for work is some babysitting for neighbors. I owe thousands of dollars in school loans and am living at home where my parents remind me daily how much my education cost them. At this point, I have no idea what I want to do with my life and don't see the situation improving anytime soon. And still, everyone just keeps telling me I'm young and will have the rest of my life to get ahead." It was clear she was worried. Yet, those at the table responded with, "It's true! You have your whole life to work. Our situation is more critical because we have a limited number of years left before we retire," then turned and continued talking. And just like that, her career reality was dismissed.

Which Generation Is Losing The Career Fight?

Sadly, the discounting of Gen Y's career troubles is pretty common. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if more than a few management teams across the country are secretly smug about the fact that Gen Y is finding it hard to get hired. Over the last few years, there have been numerous articles and discussions around Gen Y's entitled attitudes and weak work ethics. I've heard managers complain about their lack of professionalism and inability to communicate effectively in the workplace. In short, lots of folks think Gen Y is getting a well-deserved life lesson. What those seasoned professionals don't know is just how bad it is out there for Gen Y. A recent article in BusinessWeek magazine entitled, "The Lost Generation" paints a depressing future for Gen Y: "Studies suggest that an extended period of youthful joblessness can significantly depress lifetime income as people get stuck in jobs that are beneath their capabilities, or come to be seen by employers as damaged goods." The article goes on to cite examples of how a belated entry into the professional world due to the recession is going to hurt Gen Y's ability to achieve their financial and professional goals - which in turn, will hurt American companies' ability to attract and retain talent. FACT: Corporate America Needs to Bridge the Gap With Gen Y - Or Prepare to Suffer the Consequences. Here's why... Over 80% of American firms are currently led by Baby Boomers (77M) who will eventually be retiring in the next 10-15 years. Thus, smart companies know they need to focus NOW on cultivating future executive talent. Moreover, with only 46M Gen Xers, it's safe to assume these same companies will need to look at the newest generation, Gen Y (70M), to make up for the executive talent shortage. So, how can a company learn to work effectively with this demographic so they can identify, attract and retain top performers? Are increasingly common trends like job hopping a concern or are they becoming the norm? The answer lies in understanding how to strategically bridge the gap and build multi-generational teams that leverage one another's talents. Easy to say, but not easy to do. That's why you should join me for a serious discussion on the subject. Wednesday, October 21st - 2-3pm ESTSign-up today (it's FREE) to attend this webinar on how to attract and retain Gen Y talent. Attendees will learn how to bridge the gap in generational differences that impede their company from building the high-performance, multi-generational workforce they'll need to grow their businesses in the future. It's time we raised our compassion level for Gen Y in the workplace. Better still, it's time we learned how to tap into their potential and help them become valued team members. As you'll learn in the session, it could actually help YOU stay employable long-term. CLICK HERE to sign up for the FREE webinar at ERE.net