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Now what? When working isn’t an option

Posted by Amy Wilson on March 10, 2009

no-new-jobsSeveral months ago, I explored the changing talent dynamic of the baby boom generation – a giant group of people who planned to retire and now can’t.

Now, let’s move on to Generation Y. What are the economic implications for this tech-savvy, multi-tasking, demanding, entitled (insert positive or negative stereotype here) group of people? Well, it’s safe to say that this demographic is the hardest hit by the economic crisis. The job supply is nearly non-existent and those jobs that do come up are for the skilled and experienced. In fact, skilled and experienced people are taking jobs that are well beneath their abilities just to “ride out the storm.” Coming into this job market from college basically sucks. It will be interesting to see how this generation evolves over the next few years. I predict generation Y will go from demanding to either creative or homeless. Let’s hope for the best.

How are Gen Y’s getting creative and what should organizations do to prepare? One word: volunteering. With no paying jobs in sight, college grads are turning to unpaid internships and volunteer positions to gain experience, skills, and a sense of purpose. Ironically, this is what we believed gen y was looking for all along – places to volunteer and find meaning. Now that it’s a necessity rather than a demand, will the years of preparation pay off?

This is a huge opportunity for organizations to tap into a motivated (and frankly, a bit desperate) segment of the workforce with no salary expense. At least not yet. Think of it as a delayed salary expense + a talent pipeline for the future. There will still be the same demands on learning and mentoring that you’ve come to expect from this generation plus you may have to work a little more on the sense of purpose value proposition.

In 5 years, if we do things right, loyalty might be the new Generation Y stereotype.

One Response to “Now what? When working isn’t an option”

  1. Meg Bear said

    There was a point when I got out of college (in a recession) that I considered the peace corps. Why? Well they would delay the requirement to pay off my student loans. Hopefully the new volunteer programs being considered with the stimulus plan will include this provision, I think that will have a real impact.

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