Remember my “burning question” from last week?  Asking people “who should be teaching who” in today’s job market, in terms of the different age groups and their views of the workforce?

Well, as it turns out, one of my clients in the Baby Boom generation had the courage to forward this article along to his 30-year-old son for comment — and has given me permission to post his son’s remarks, below.  While hardly a representative sample, these comments do nonetheless echo my strong belief that things HAVE changed in a significant way out there, in terms of the work paradigm.  Give this note a read.  It provides some interesting food for thought!

Note from Son to Father (who is in career transition):

“Well, there’s not too much to be brutal about – I think you’re doing the right stuff, I would just expect it to take a little while.  It’s a very difficult job market, and there are probably more than 100 applicants per job (more in other instances), which makes it confusing for people hiring.

I do think the older generation missed the boat on what’s going on now, and I think I know why after ruminating a bit.  As to staying with

[your last company] for that many years, it’s hard to say if it was good or bad, but I’d probably say good (given the information you had at the time).  Basically, there was a pension, and people older than you had successfully worked in the same job for long periods, which resulted in career benefits for them (so that was the ‘success’ model).

So, where we diverge:  I came out in a crappy market.  Worked a blood bank for a month or two.  Car dealership for a month.  This began the realm of the ‘consultant’ time period – or rather treating employees as a component of a cost line, as opposed to a valued colleague.  Our generation has no loyalty, basically, because we act toward the employer in the same manner we’re treated.  If we’re disposable – so’s the company.  Plus, waiting forever for us has meant career degradation.  At lower levels, having additional tenure is inconsequential.  On a long enough timeline, promotions are mostly based on favoritism (in many companies), or relationships outside work between people.  That removes the ‘carrot’ right there.  Especially if you’re highly motivated and better yourself outside work.  What’s to motivate you to stay?  Especially when the next competitor will pay you 40% more and it doesn’t matter if you ate lunch with them everyday for 2 years.

Same thing on comp.  It’s wildly out of control.  More ‘carrot’ degradation here really.  Companies try to make everyone ‘equal’, or within a range.  Clearly, however, performance is not equally distributed.  What’s the motivation to work harder and better yourself?  You’ll get the 3% inflation increase, and that’s it.  Especially when others are hired on at higher wages, and again, the next competitor values those skills and will pay you 40% more.  Many companies don’t reward people for the skills they bring to the table (especially as they grow), when clearly other people do.

The main disconnect, is that during the ’02 and earlier financial crises, older workers were mainly left out of layoffs.  They were more senior and sheltered, and didn’t learn exactly how loyal your employer is to you, versus how loyal you should be to the employer. A lot of the lessons were given to the younger crowd in the form of unpaid internships, blood bank work, and lawn mowing.  Now it’s just hitting much higher up the food chain, with people that haven’t experienced this sort of thing, and it sort of breaks the ‘model’ of both what has worked for them in the past, and what they learned worked.

I guess the last thing is that because of this, the younger generation (the smart, motivated, and hard-working ones) have kept their resumes sharp, and interview a lot.  I know a lot of people that aren’t looking and happy where they are, but they’ll go to lunch with about anybody who’s hiring and interested to hear them out.  Plus, that puts you in contact with people who’ve really already ‘vetted’ you, and at that point it’s just about comp and responsibilities.  Anyway, that’s my two cents.”