THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Making meaning: 20somethings happy to switch jobs
The majority of job hunters are younger than 35. In fact, among 18- to 24-year-olds, 60 percent are looking for work. But they're not looking for more money. They're looking for more interesting work and a better personal life.
Rob Larity, for example, works at Delphi Health Systems, a software company. Though he doesn't mind working, in effect, for his dad, Delphi's chief executive, the younger Larity is looking for a new job because he wants to live closer to Boston.
"It would be more fun," he says, casually using a word that young workers of earlier generations would have seen as audacious. Younger workers have fewer qualms about frequent job changes, because they have no illusions about job security in this day and age.
What matters to these workers is a meaningful job experience. Continual learning, challenging projects, collegial atmosphere, solid mentoring: this is the checklist for the newest workers, and if they don't get what they want, they'll leave.
Few young people have conventional corporate climbing in mind, and changing jobs frequently is actually an efficient way to meet their career goals.
"If someone is going to work for a big company, they want to be there a few years to learn and then start their own company," says Jason Harris, cofounder of a San Francisco ad agency.
"They do want to conquer the world," Harrison says, "but they don't want to own the world. They want to carve out their own niche doing what they want to do and make a business out of it."
What can you do to make sure you get a job that will encourage new experiences at work and at home? Ask a lot of questions in the interview. Older people might tell you that many questions are off-limits in an interview. For example, "Can I leave every Wednesdays at 5 to go bike riding with my friends?"
But this sort of question is quite common from younger workers. Young workers are very savvy when it comes to knowing corporate life.
For those hunting for a new job that will provide meaningful experiences, concentrate energy on finding the right manager as opposed to the right position. There's no reason to be limited by the job description– you can always pick up extra work that gains experience and exposure.
But a checked-out manager can limit you. So seek managers who will look out for you and make sure you get good projects. Since joining the workforce, baby boomers have been screaming about how annoying micromanagers are. But hands-on management is making a comeback due to the demands of people in their 20s.
A benevolent form of micromanagement is good. So ask potential employers about their management training programs. And don't rely completely on what your prospective manager says. Listen to how he or she says it. People's speech patterns reveal their management style.
Someone who progresses through a conversation step by step, methodically giving details, will manage you carefully and with great interest.
Larity receives good mentoring and guidance, not only from his dad, but from a few vice presidents in the company. When looking for a good manager, he recommends looking for "what everyone wants from a boss: someone who sees you as an equal; someone who is not too uptight about titles and the formal aspects of the employer-employee relationship."
An organization of equals. Sane hours. Devoted mentors. These are the demands of a new generation of job hunters. In fact, maybe the constant job changes are a sign of impressive motivation to gain experience.
"I'm not a slacker," said Larity. "I'm driven by the things I'm interested in."