Gen Y's Take on a Career

 -  7/19/12

The one-company career is a relic of the past. Today’s talent ecosystem is loaded with Gen Y talent bent on bouncing around and trying new experiences.

As a new class of freshly minted college graduates begins its summer job search — and as its recession-era predecessors, still struggling to land that first full-time job offer, do the same — recruiters are getting to know the Gen Y job seeker quite well.

Talent Management spoke with Lindsey Pollak, a global spokeswoman for LinkedIn and author of Getting from College to Career, about the evolution of a “career,” the values of the Gen Y job seeker, and how recruiters can prepare to attract and retain top Gen Y talent.

How is the notion of a career changing?
The biggest shift is the idea of a career ladder, where you start at a company at the bottom and you work your way up until you finish by retiring. What we’re seeing now is some people call it a career lattice or career web — where you might work in corporate America for a few years, you might take some time off, go back to school, start a business, go back into corporate America, do some nonprofit work, take a sabbatical.

There’s this sort of winding road that no longer leads in this very straight direction. I think it’s partly because of the economy that those roles don’t really exist as much anymore, and I think it’s partly because this new generation is saying, I’m not a single person with just one single career interest. I want to do lots of different things over the course of my life — and I’m going to build a career that makes sense at each stage, but maybe doesn’t look like a straight line.

What is causing this shift?
One is the upbringing within a family. The stereotype of this generation is they had helicopter parents who were hovering over them and sort of catering to their different interests. If they wanted to play soccer for a few years, and then if they wanted to do origami, and then they wanted to play the flute — they were really encouraged to pursue a lot of different interests.

College also played a role. You see a huge rise — I think an over 300 percent rise — in people with double and triple majors. The education system said, “You know, if you’re not just interested in a topic, form your own major, combine a few different things.”

Article Keywords:   career   gen y   retention   career development   social networking   recruitment  

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