Having spent 37 years working with thousands of job hunters, it’s no surprise that now I’m working with the adult children of former clients. The career problems Boomers had are different from their children’s. Boomers worried about getting ahead, standing out from the competition, and earning more money. Millennials worry about finding something to do they will like and working for a company they can respect. If they know what they want they can’t seem to express it in words of one syllable. Their parents want them to make a choice, any choice, and get a job. Neither side is going to win this war but there will be lots of pain exchanged during the conflict.
In the name of family peace here are some ways parents and Millennials can work together for better career choices. (Don’t be surprised, parents, if you benefit as much as your children. Many Boomers are re-careering, or want to, as we speak and they need to gather facts as well.)
1. Temporary work is made in heaven for the undecided. Finding out what you don’t want to do is the first step to identifying what you do want. If your work consists of short-term assignments it’s good. If you change full-time jobs every three months you create a problem for your resume.
2. Compile a long list of everything you don’t want to do. If “work for a living” is at the top of your list it means you have to hustle twice as fast to find something you do enjoy. Parents: A Millennial who hates work is telling you something. He/she hasn’t found what he/she loves yet. That’s all. Stop talking about his/her work ethic.
3. Arrange to shadow someone who has a job a Millennial finds interesting — however remotely. Parents: Trade favors with your friends. Arrange for your child to go on-the-job and do the same for others’ children. This will be far more productive than urging a child to work a minimum-wage job while “he gets his head on straight.” Shadowing is the best way to find out what someone really does as opposed to what the job is called.
4. Expect this process, even if vigorously pursued, to take months. The idea that a new graduate is going to find her dream career in three months is absurd. Patience may be a virtue but in career hunting it’s a necessity. One year’s worth of part-time, temporary, and/or volunteer jobs is realistic.
5. The fact that your child had several internships, while interesting learning experiences, doesn’t always result in a career commitment. While you are living through the incubation period with your child, you might want to consider what your career needs. You will be working past age 70 so you might as well take your own advice and do something you love!
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