Times change, and if you don't change with them you're likely to get left behind. That simple piece of wisdom applies to pretty much everything - up to and including the job market. It seems like a lot of older didn't get that memo, though.
So I'm standing in the store with my mother and she starts in again asking me when one of us (she means me, my partner or the father of my children) are going to get a "real job." All three of us freelance and she just cannot fathom why we would choose not to have a steady 9-5 job that offered benefits and a retirement plan. Of course I've tried explaining that they're not that easy to come by, but she is the head of HR for an international company and has had the same position for longer than many of you readers have been alive. She "grew" with the company and doesn't grasp how rarely that happens anymore. She's never faced a world where a company isn't willing to pay what she's worth, doesn't offer benefits, and certainly doesn't view employees as family members. We freelance because it pays way better and it affords us the freedom to not have to pay for daycare or aftercare costs - and almost nowhere offers health benefits that we can afford anyway, sooo... ?
One Reddit user asked:
And I kind of want to send all of these responses to my mom, but I'd rather not get into a fight that I know will last 42.68 lifetimes - so I'll passive aggressively write an article instead!
It's All Online
As someone who works in HR, please don't apply for a position in person unless you are specifically told to. Almost all applications are done online now. If you drop off a resume, you are actually making me do the work. I would have to create a candidate application profile in your name using your resume, apply on the job, and move you to the interview stage if you were selected.
When people fax or email resumes, I usually throw them out because I literally do not have the time to apply on your behalf. Older people think that it shows 'initiative' but it's actually a huge inconvenience and shows me that the applicant refuses to follow directions and cannot complete tasks as instructed.
You Can't Just Walk In
That you can't just walk into a company and walk out with a job. My dad and his friend walked into a factory in the early 80's and both left with a job (my dad still works for the same company to this day) he can't understand why I'm finding it so hard to find work now...
My dad thought the same thing. Then he retired from his 30 year job and went to look for work to keep himself busy. He later apologized, he really didn't think it was as bad as I told him it was until he started looking himself.
When I was unemployed my mom told me I should work for Google because they pay a lot and she heard it's a good company to work for. I told her I have a bachelors in a liberal arts field, and I'm not qualified to work for Google. "But you're so smart! If you just talked to someone there they would hire you because you're charming and intelligent! I would hire you!" I love my mom and I appreciate her confidence in me, but that's not how any of this works.
Loyalty Is Out
It's much more competitive, and much less rewarding. You don't owe the company you work for with extra unpaid hours or your loyalty and submissiveness since you aren't rewarded for that anymore, at least certainly not like they used to. Loyalty isn't the name of the game anymore. Flexibility is. You get a better opportunity at another company? Take it.
This is why job hopping is much more common now. Not because of "entitled youths", just because loyalty just isn't effective anymore. Loyalty is no longer rewarded and down right taken advantage of by the generation who reaped the benefits of being loyal. It's not their fault (individually at least), the hyper-capitalistic society gave way to an economic crisis and as such cuts in salary, firing a lot of people and less rewards. A more capable workforce (more degrees) also leads to more selective and competitive employee choosing.
The job market changes over time, and the generations that grow in them are adapted to their situation. While the best move for them was loyalty, right now it's flexibility and adaptability.
The problem is they don't seem to understand that, and whine about the "lazy and entitled" younger generation.
My company gave me a .5% you read that right half a percent. I told my manager I quit. He got mad at me I told him half a percent is just pissing in my face and calling it rain. If your company isn't giving you at least a 2% raise every year then you end up basically losing money after inflation and cost of living. Inflation in my area was like 5%. I asked him why I was getting paid less today than when I started. I showed him the math and told him about my rent increases. With that, he had enough ammo to get HR to come back at me with a legit raise.
They couldn't train anyone else so he gave me a bigger raise so they didn't lose me. I told him he needed to talk to HR and sort it out because we were a separate department from sales which is where they were losing money. The big company model ends up punishing people for the shortcomings of others rather than rewarding individuals.
I like my job but yeah I have resumes circulating constantly. I have worked here for 3 years and I have taken maybe 5 job interviews. Its just constantly being open to something new. Its always better to move to a new company and get a raise that way than to wait for the awkward realization that the place you work is trying to keep you on as cheaply as possible.
Find a new job every 2 years.
At one of my last jobs they hired a guy who lied on his resume, and didn't know how to do anything design or civil related. He got terminated within a few months, and I found out he was hired on making a little less than double what I made.
It honestly a f*cking joke. Companies refuse to pay their existing employees a competitive wage, so they all just deal with the merry go round expenses of turn over and hiring new people exponentially more than just keeping their existing employees happy.
I wish loyalty was a value. I think it makes a work environment cancer when you have to walk into your boss's office with an offer in hand to receive any meaningful/competitive raise.
My dad was telling me how my friends must be really lazy if they haven't found Christmas break jobs. I tried to explain that we live in a college town area, near a big city, and that all the Christmas work (what little there is to begin with, why hire seasonal employees when you already have enough staff?) is already taken by October by all the college kids who already live in the area. Not only that, but trying to get a job back home when you're cities or even states away is really hard. How do you show up for an interview if you're across the country? But he just didn't get it.
He really expects businesses to hire someone for 2-3 weeks during Christmas break. Seasonal jobs start hiring in at least October nowadays and are considered months long positions not weeks long.
I got a seasonal job over the summer. I started in April (which ended up being later than my coworkers) and they expected me to go through October, with some employees going to January. Seasonal is just code for no benefits. The only people who had been there for long were just desperately hoping to get a full time position after putting in years of physical work for less than you'd get at f*cking Target.
Do It For Less
There's so much competition nowadays. We now live in a global economy. No matter what I do, there's someone out there willing to do it for much less.
My boss was paying this accountant $20.00 an hour to do the books. Then he fired him when he realized he could pay some college kid minimum wage who's really wanting to build a resume. Now our new accountant is making minimum wage. The kid is pretty smart. I'm not hating on him at all, but it's just a good example of how a surplus of human labor nose dives wages.
There's sooooo many humans that are competing.
Happens in the IT world too. High School kid knows just enough to keep the computer systems running that were maintained by the professional who was costing the company $70K per year. Kid will do it for a buck over minimum wage. All works fine for a year then something breaks. Kid tries, messes up really bad and splits. Costs $100K for two weeks to clean up the mess.
Fun fact, some employers are required to post job listings, even if the position has been filled before the listing is even created.
My mom works for a school district. They have this requirement. Since it's a public school job (she gets state benefits, etc,) I don't know if it's a "company" policy or a law, but they either shift people around to fill from within, or hire someone's friend/family member instantly when a position opens, BUT they're still required to post the job and pretend it's available, except nobody who applies externally gets called.
Pretty sad, and a good demonstration of how the job market is in the USA currently. We're apparently at record lows for unemployment. To me, that means everyone's family members stepped up their efforts to help each other out.
How much people have been taken out of the equation in job searches.
A lot of these online application portals are automated. It's not a person reviewing your application first. It's an algorithm scanning your resume and cover letter for key terms and assessing your responses to any additional questions in the application.
Tell the computer what it wants to hear, and you might get to the human review pile. But if you don't, it will reject you regardless of your qualifications.
It Takes So Long
I was informed by my employers that my services were no longer required... or even wanted... in June of 2014, after 10.5 years with the company.
I took a week "off", where I just relaxed like I was on vacation... I hadn't had more than one day off in a week for something like two years... and then began doing the job hunt thing.
At the start of the hunt, I was filling out five applications a day for jobs that were legitimately in my wheelhouse, and sometimes up to 15 or 20 for ones that I could do, but my background didn't look it (computer repair, for example: I've never worked in the biz, no classes, etc, but yet I've been doing such stuff for myself and others for close to 20 years).
Nothing. I didn't get my first interview for a month, and that was a failure... mostly because it was one of those "pay us money and we'll hire you!" jobs. I didn't realize that when I applied.
After six months, I maybe was filling out five "real" applications a week. After 11 months, I was about to jump off a ledge. I did get hired at that point, but it was getting close.
I had filled out close to 500 applications and gotten 10 interviews. In a year. And I suspect that my numbers are nothing uncommon.
"Bother Them Until They Hire You" Is The Worst Advice
My grandmother is always telling me to "bother them until they hire you" and if I say no I'm met with "you have no idea how the world works yet" which infuriates me to no end. It's like yeah they will definitely hire me if I come in every day and ask about a job even if they say they aren't hiring.
You cannot go and "check-in" on your application (aka contact them about the job after submitting an application). Most places will mark you as a Do Not Hire because of this, saying that it makes you impatient & desperate.
Source: I've seen a couple of people who work in hiring say that this is a policy that they've been told to uphold, including my own supervisor.
After I graduated from the police academy at 21 years old, I had the worst time trying to explain to family that after submitting an application I was specifically told any attempt to contact them (the police department) first would result in my application to be immediately withdrawn. They never believed me until they took it upon themselves to try to call about my applications and it was immediately withdrawn right on the phone. I did eventually get a job at an entirely different department, but it took a lot of damage control. It's no joke.
I was on the interview panel for a job we were advertising, I was filling in for the manager who was on leave so I didn't even really have much influence on who would be hired anyway. One of the applicants added me on LinkedIn straight after the interview, with a message asking how long until he finds out the result. I had to declare it to HR and to the rest of the interview panel because it was a potential conflict of interest. Even though he was a good applicant it did undermine his application because it came across as pushy, like he was trying to curry favor to get the job, as well as extremely inappropriate.
9 - 5
The jobs young people are applying for are legitimate jobs.
Older folks think if you don't work M-F from 9-5 it's not a real job that you can use to support yourself and family.
"Just Move" - How?!
A lot of older (and affluent) people tell me "Just move out of state! You'll find a job easy!" But then I ask them with what money will I put down on an apartment when I can't afford to move out of my parent's place even as I scrape together saving. All my family lives within 30mins. I don't have aunts or uncles that live in a different state so I could apply there and bum the couch til I'm on my feet.
They also don't realize how little job security there is. I'm currently long term substitute teaching in a district where the teachers haven't had a raise in 4 years and don't have a contract. You'd think a job that involves educating our youth would be more secure.
And even though I perform all the duties of a teacher, I get paid 1/3 of the wage of the other teachers. The only benefit I am getting is mentor ship and my provisional which is good, but this is the second long term position I have gotten and I still don't seem to have enough experience or something for a full time permanent position. Everything is competition and being a college graduate with honors and all the honor societies you could want still isn't enough.
Trade Is A Viable Option
I'm 27. Didn't graduate high school. I went to trade school for automotive technology (mechanics) I wanted to be a mechanic. Ive always been into cars and motorcycles, anything with wheels anyway. Met some people whilst buying cheap cars and motorcycles on CL and reselling them. I was also in to aircooled VWs. I'm was pretty inclined for a 20 year old, it wasn't just The schooling, it was more, the passion for it.
I have been doing auto body for 9 years now, taught by my peers and a drive to achieve quality, lots of hard work nonetheless.
I make better money than most my age with debt and degrees, with great benefits.
Find your passion, work hard, and be assertive!
Adjusted For Inflation
Adjusted for inflation, I make about the same per hour that my mom did at my age, though I have a master's degree and she has no college degrees.
Tech Is Your Friend
As someone who hires people: Boomers need to embrace technology. If you walk into a job interview where i'm trying to find someone to make low 6 figures in sales and you say things like "I don't do computers and cell phones" - chances are you are not going to get the sales job. We might offer a warehouse position for a wage you don't want.
Not saying all Boomers are like this but there seems to be a larger subset of Boomer individuals who just shun modern technology. Even though they grew up and have lived during the amazing technological leaps and bounds of the past 50+ years.
Home or Office? Pick One.
Cost of living is astronomical and companies are in a constant competition to see whom they can pay the least to do the most, and work-life balance is hugely important. Sitting in an office twiddling your thumbs when it's not very busy benefits exactly nobody. I have an aging parent; this is going to require me being home sometimes. Like it, don't like it, but if the older generation wants their kids to take care of them when they're old, they need to actually understand that that involves either 1) working from home or 2) not being in the office. They just can't have it both ways: have us working ourselves sick or taking care of them at home.
The Factory Down The Street
My grandma told me when I was 17 looking for work that she used to be able to quit the factory one day and finish a shift the same day at a factory down the street. I told her it's not that simple anymore and she was surprised.
Out Of State Secretary
That you usually can't get a job in a new city before you move there. Every time I tell my dad I'm ready to leave Los Angeles and try (insert city here) he tells me that I need to make sure I have a job before I move. That only works for specialists-- doctors, lawyers, engineers. No one is going to hire a secretary who lives in a different state.
Inked And Working
That tattoos won't stop you from getting a job. Every time I get a new tattoo my Nan says 'you'll never get a job looking like that'. Like... I work in a bank. Nobody cares how tattooed my body is as long as I don't steal account details or piss on the photocopier.
Literally Fewer Jobs
That between increasing population and increasing automation there's literally fewer jobs now than there were 40 years ago. Especially in "entry-level" work. (For instance manufacturing output in the USA is the highest it's ever been while manufacturing employment is the lowest it's been)
Flexibility For All
I'm going to take a different approach to this question and speak from someone as if they were already working in the market. Older generations do not understand the need for a flexible/remote work environment. Why do I need to sit in an office to do something I can do from a laptop on the beach, in a coffee shop, or even at home? Also why am I expected to work 8 hrs? 9-5pm is archaic. What used to take 8 hrs (filing, physically writing notes or documents, speaking to others) now takes way less time. Cut work weeks to 32hrs or 4 days a week but don't cut pay, New Zealand did it, and it's worked. https://www.seattletimes.com/explore/careers/a-4-day-workweek-new-zealand-test-run-shows-a-surprising-result/
Phones, text, email, laptops, internet have all made our jobs easier and have eliminated the need for paper and while we are using these tools to our productive advantage we are not using them to our flexible advantage.