It's no secret that the job market is tough. The news is filled not only with stories of unemployment and layoffs and long waits for interviews, but also theories about how the future looks to be gloomy as well, thanks to shrinkage in the job market.
But the reality is, it's only a tough job market for people who don't know how to think young.
What does thinking young mean? It means being adaptable. It means being optimistic about new opportunities rather than dwelling on what used to be. It means being willing to take a lower-paying job now in order to be positioned for a high-paying job later. And it means accepting that things will never be the same again.
There is a great deal of research coming out that indicates economic recovery will also bring a shift in the employment environment, with job openings increasing in the service, government, programming, healthcare, and project management sectors. Traditional career paths, such as marketing, sales, distribution, and promotions, will become more interrelated with technology as web, television, radio, and mobile phone media bases grow increasingly integrated. And this gives young job seekers, those who've grown up in world filled with rapid technology changes, a distinct advantage over older workers.
A recent MetLife study of the American Dream showed that, unlike the previous generation, Gen Y is more focused on family and friends than financial security, which also places them well for accepting lower-paying positions to start their careers.
Job seekers who can accept, and thrive within, this altered reality have a bright horizon to look forward to: according to the U.S. Government, by the year 2015 there will be major worker shortages, especially in the tri-state area, as the baby boomer generation hits full retirement mode. As that happens, people will find it increasingly easy to move up corporate ladders and earn rapid pay increases—but only if they've already adapted to the current economic shifts and either changed their career direction or taken a lower-paying job in order to get a foot in the door.
What it comes down to in the end is that older workers, the ones finding themselves the victims of downsizings, closings, and industry changes, need to think like their children or grandchildren if they want to ride this wave into the future. For most people, the days of high pay and little competition are over. Now it's either adapt or fall to the wayside as the next generation moves ahead.
How to Think Young
- Cultivate optimism. Young people are confident the future will be better than the present, and their optimism helps them create their own luck, through hard work and adaptability.
- Look outside the box. Alternative energy, going green, organic farming, teaching, and service-oriented job sectors are going to be big in the near future. Start exploring your options now.
- Build your resume with the new technology age in mind. Keep alternate versions available so you can send it out from your phone or let people view it online.
- Cast expectations aside. Dwelling on the past gets you nowhere. Put your energy into finding something new, maybe even a career path you never considered before. The future is now!