Why Gen Yers Fail to Launch
The movie "Failure to Launch" played as a comedy
on the big screen, but is it really funny? Talking about their
young adult children, perplexed parents will say, "He's
bright, did well in school, loved his major, but is lost when
it comes to looking for a job or finding a good fit."
Employers are concerned as well, worried about the time and
money it takes to recruit and retain young talent in their
organizations. Why is this happening in greater numbers today?
According to a 2007 study, many of today's young adults "claim
to want challenging and rewarding careers, yet they do not
take the necessary actions to plan and prepare for these careers."
The study was conducted by two Michigan State University researchers:
Philip Gardner, Ph.D., Director of the Collegiate Employment
Research Institute, and Georgia Chao, Ph.D., Associate Professor
of Management at the Eli Broad College of Business, for MonsterTRAK,
the online college recruitment website. They report that young
adults "surf for the right job" by moving from job
to job frequently, similar to surfing on the Internet.
The study also found that parents provide support by allowing
them to come home to regroup and by financing their lifestyle
and activities. The young adults proceed with their job changes
with optimism, believing that at some point, they will find
their ideal job by a process of elimination. About half the
survey's 10,000 young adults perceived themselves as entitled
to the better things in life and did not want to compromise
on requirements for their "ideal job." This prolongs
their job search.
About half of the young people ages 18-28 surveyed also reported
that they did not have concrete career goals or plans. "Thus,
job surfing is used to gain different experiences in order
to determine what kind of career would best fit them."
Surfing was more likely for young adults who majored in liberal
arts, social sciences or communications; less likely for those
majoring in education, the health professions, or computer
"I see a few things with young adults as they leave
college and start their first job," says Duncan Ferguson,
a Senior Consultant with SSP-BPI Group, a Chicago executive
coaching and career services firm that typically works with
mid-career adults. "Some young people just don't grasp
the job search process. They spend too much time on the job
search mechanics, studying interview questions, getting a
resume 'done', surfing the net, etc. They need to realize
that the job search process is really about marketing themselves.
That means being clear on what they have to offer to the marketplace,
for example, skills, expertise, capabilities, characteristics
and values, and translating that into a marketing message
that employers will find engaging. They need to be ready with
their marketing commercial - the 'elevator speech - and a
marketing brochure - the resume - that tells the world what
differentiates them from the competition."
"The other group of young adults who seem to be lost
are the ones without a direction, because they haven't reflected
enough about themselves. That is, what do they like, what
are their passions and interests, what don't they like - all
more important questions than 'Can I get a job with this degree?'
Many receive a 'job ready' degree, like accounting or engineering,
yet have never taken the time to ask themselves, 'Do I really
like this?' versus 'Will this get me a job?' Ferguson continues.
"I see grads with liberal arts degrees who may have a
lot of options but don't know how to process them. They don't
know themselves and what careers best match their strengths."
"In hindsight, these 'Early Careerists' as we call them,
could have utilized their campus career services more. Many
colleges and universities have excellent resources far from
fully utilized by students. Now these young adults who are
one to five years out of school need help, but most colleges
don't have the staff or budget to serve the different needs
of their alumni. The really great schools are trying to figure
out how to set up services for these young alumni," Ferguson
says. "I would encourage Early Careerists to get involved
with their alumni association, which will naturally give access
to networking contacts and potential mentors."
"It's also important to acknowledge that all Generation
Yers do not fit the negative stereotypes, that they are slackers
or goof-offs with an out-of-proportion sense of entitlement,"
Ferguson concluded. "But they differ from their Baby
Boomer parents in that they are looking to work to live, not
live to work, so work-life balance issues are very important.
Many are good kids from good schools who are looking to take
their place in the marketplace. For young adults, it's never
too early to start reflecting on career goals and building
their network. These are critical skills that they will need
throughout their entire career."
* For the entire white paper "Today's Young Adults: Surfing
for the Right Job" prepared by the Collegiate Employment
Research Institute for the Study of Student Transitions for
here and scroll down to the appropriate link.
See related article SSP-BPI
Group & Career Vision Partner to Put Young Adults on the
Path to Success.
© Copyright 2008, Career Vision. Article may be reprinted
Direction. Decisions. Satisfaction.