Today I am writing about “generational differences” when it comes to finding a job and starting your “adult life”. We came up with this topic at our last bloggers meeting, we were talking about how older generations think the younger generations are lazy and don’t have a great work ethic. Oh, and that they expect a lot.
The younger generation thinks the older generation just “doesn’t understaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand” (in whiny voice)
what it’s like trying to get a job in this day and age, and that they aren’t lazy, and all they want is a job. Any job will do. I’m sure everyone reading has an opinion on this or has their own experience finding a job, and I do think there is a misunderstanding when each generation tries to understand what the other has gone through or is going through.
When I started to write this blog post, all I could think about was every teenager in the world saying to their parents in a very whiny and annoying voice “You just don’t understand what’s it’s like being me!”, or something along those lines. And all the parents roll their eyes and are thinking inside, “Uh, yeah, I do! I was a teenager once!” But they weren’t a teenager in 2015, they weren’t a 20 something fresh out of school trying to find work and pay off their student loans in 2015, and of course teenagers and young adults of today don’t know what it was like to be their parents back then. It was different, and it is different now.
I actually love talking about this topic with other “young” people because we all go on rants about how clueless our parents are about our struggle to get a job, and to basically “get ahead” in life. When I’ve brought this topic up with my own parents, they will usually just roll their eyes, but one time we had a really good conversation about why it’s so hard being a young person trying to find a great, stable, exciting career. Actually, we talked about why’s it’s so hard to get a job. Period.
When I finished my undergrad, and then my post grad, I was working at a retail store for about 6 months looking for a “better job”. I literally applied to everything, made a separate resume and cover letter for each job saying how excited I would be to be a receptionist/event planner/marketing coordinator/recruiter/hr
professional/dancer/popcorn popper because it’s my passion and I have so much to offer! I never got calls for an interview. I was living with my parents, and they always asked me “Why aren’t you getting any interviews?” and “Maybe you should try a little harder!” or “Why don’t you go hand out your resumes in person?”
Insert: “You just don’t understand!”
Well, my parents really didn’t understand. Finally I explained to them what it’s like trying to get a job. How you are either over qualified or underqualified, or just as qualified as 500 other applicants. How people with Masters Degrees were fighting to get a receptionist job or even a job at Shoppers Drug Mart. How you have to apply online and employers will not accept resumes in person, and you cannot call them to ask about the job. How a lot of companies scan each resume through human resource software that look for key works and dismiss the ones that don’t have those words. How if you don’t have a post grad specialization you won’t even be considered; oh, and how you need at LEAST 5 years experience for that entry level position. I told my parents that it’s luck of the draw and the stars have to align if you want that awesome job (or you have to know somebody, which I never did). Finally they started to listen and stopped making those comments.
During that same conversation, my dad told me about his experience finding work straight outta highschool. Yep, he finished grade 12 and instantly had a plethora of jobs to apply for. He walked into a factory one day and was immediately hired. They needed people, they wanted to train you and they wanted you to work for them. So, my dad worked his butt off for about a year. He told me he showed up on time, worked the overtime when they asked, never called in sick, and never took a vacation day. He did everything they asked and was doing well.
After a year, he felt it was time for a vacation. He asked his boss for a week off, and his boss said no. Since he was on contract, he wasn’t entitled to vacation. My dad said that was ridiculous and since he’s proven he’s a reliable and hard worker, he deserves a week off after a year of working non-stop. His boss still said no. My dad said, “Fine. I’m taking my vacation in a week and I won’t be back after. See ya.” And walked out. Yes. He did that. Two days later his boss came and found him and told him that the vacation had been approved, and thanked him for his hard work.
I couldn’t imagine talking to a boss or supervisor like that. My job is too precious. I know there are at least 20 people who applied for the same job who are as qualified or more qualified as me. If I demanded vacation, a raise, or anything, it would be so easy to say no and to replace me. I would never ask. I have never negotiated my salary, or negotiated my contract, or asked for anything extra. I won’t be late, I won’t call in sick unless I really have to, and of course I want to meet my goals and keep my job. Most people cannot do that in this day and age. There are just too many of us who are extremely qualified and there are so few jobs that pay a fair salary and provide the right perks. You are lucky if you find something close, and if you do, you aren’t letting it go.
I had a conversation with my mom, and she was upset when I told her that I was looking for a new job and wanted to move on from a previous position. She said I needed to put down roots and prove my worth at one organization and move my way up. I told her it
doesn’t always work like that, some organizations don’t do performance reviews, they don’t give raises, they don’t have room to move up or advance. Some jobs are just a dead end. She has worked as a nurse all her life and worked her way up and she saw her salary, benefits, and seniority increase. She has worked hard and enjoys what’s she’s earned. I told her I didn’t have that option currently, but that’s what I was trying to find. I was trying to find a job and an organization where I could do all those things, but it’s hard. I think after my parents and I talked honestly we understood the differences of our careers and lives. They won’t be able to expect a wedding or grandkids from me when they thought because I am behind from where their generation was.
Back then, you could choose your job, work hard, move up, and have job security. You could buy a house, start a family, and not worry about your insane amount of student debt. You didn’t need to constantly go back to school to get another designation or certification. You could start your adult life by the time you were in your early twenties. Things are different now. People are buying houses and getting married when they are 30 or older, having kids when they are 40, and are switching jobs to constantly find a better one. That’s just the reality. It’s not because this young generation is lazy, or expecting too much, it’s because that’s what it is. Your age or when you grew up has nothing to do with your work ethic, which varies from person to person regardless of which generation they belong to. Although my parents and I have had different work experiences, we still know we have to work hard and never give up if you want to get ahead and live the life you want. That won’t change, no matter what year it is.