It’s time to take a quiz! Answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the following questions:
- You are not part of the less than half of young adults who currently think they have the education and skills necessary to advance in their career.
- You are the subject of headlines like ”Study: Many College Students Not Learning to Think Critically,” ”Average Is Over,” and “How Technology Is Eliminating Higher-Skill Jobs.”
- In the last 4 years, you’ve felt like it was going to be difficult to get another job if you lost the one you have today.
- You lowered your career standards, whether in money or position, to pay your bills.
- You’re putting off marriage, holding on to living with your parents, and/or stretching your comfy college career out to delay stepping into the world of work.
- You are drowning in college debt.
If you answered ‘yes’ to multiple statements above, odds are, you’re a lucky member of Generation Y! You will struggle in the world of work today and are predicted to continue struggling for higher wages, benefits, and a stable job for an undetermined amount of time.
When you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, did it make you feel particularly “optimistic” about your future? In a recent NPR story, Mark Mather, an associate vice president at the Population Reference Bureau said: ”I’m surprised young adults remain so optimistic. The research points to long-term economic problems for young adults. But many of the trends we are seeing among young people — postponing marriage, living at home, staying in school longer — can be viewed more as short-term ways to cope until the economy picks up.”
What do you propose we do instead, Mark? Would it be a better long-term plan to learn how to curl up and cry in our parents’ basement closet? No. Turn the doorknob, stand-up, and dust yourself off.
Out of 20,000 new hires, 46% of them failed within 18 months. Ouch. Out of those who failed, 89% failed due to attitudinal reasons and the rest for lack of skill, according to the Forbes article “Hire for Attitude.” That’s good and bad news.
The good news is you don’t necessarily need to go back to school to be a more attractive hire and your lack of employment may not be due to your tragic critical thinking skills, your 3.0 GPA, and your inability to work an Excel spreadsheet. The bad news is, if you failed due to attitudinal problems, a good attitude might be harder to come by than another degree. But, before you scoff at the idea of turning your cynicism into sunshine beams or clap your hands together that you’re already a cheery chap, know that a “good attitude” is relative to your ideal working place.
If you’re surly, there’s a place for you. If you’re perky, there’s a place for. If you’re apathetic, there’s a place for you. “Technical proficiency, once a guarantee of lifetime employment, is a commodity in today’s job market,” says Mark Murphy in the Forbes article. “Attitude is what today’s companies are hiring for. And not just any attitude; companies want attitudes that perfectly match their unique culture.”
The next time you are interviewing for a job or trying to hold on to the one you have, assess your surroundings. What kind of attitude will make you successful in your working environment? Consider your coworkers. What behavior seems to fly and what doesn’t? What can you do to stand out as having an optimal attitude for your work place? If none of it seems to work, look around. Do you need to pursue another work environment that better fits your personality?
If you’re still optimistic about your career, good for you. I say, keep up the optimism, get a good attitude, hang on, and never stop looking for your ideal career. What else are you going to do? Don’t let a statistician tell you that you’re a fool for dreaming of work, but you should work to show them they are wrong.