I had a gentleman in his late 60’s walk into my office today. He had either had to close his business or was laid off (wasn’t entirely clear) and, in his words, “was desperately looking for work”. He had a degree in computer science from his 20’s and had worked in accounting/finance/manufacturing since. Given that I work for a training centre, he asked about our Apple Certified IT training as that was his background. The question that got me thinking was “Will this certification get me a job?”.
I had to gently let him know that, while certification was certainly a great addition to his resume, it alone would not get him a job. Employers look for depth of knowledge, experience in the field, personality, and fit with the company culture. As I told him this, I had to find it a tad ironic that a boomer was asking the same question as many “echo boomers” have asked.
Boomers were told they could accomplish anything. They were going to change the world, if only they could break through the glass ceiling. With so many people hitting the work force, they needed to define their skills to advance. The gentleman in my office today had quite a bit of experience but, without intending to offend, had never stood out from the pack and now finds himself in a still recovering economy fighting with other boomers who were let go during the recession and new, young graduates who cost far less. This was not the outcome these boomers dreamt of.
Gen-Y’s have been told since they were kids that they can do no wrong. With helicopter parents, they were protected from failure and were told that they would go to university, get a degree, then get the job they have always wanted. Armed with their degrees, they are shocked to find that they are not unique and the degree does not get them the job they were promised. Not only that, unlike today’s Boomers who are looking for work, these Millennials believe they should be able to jump into middle management and turn down entry level positions.
I have always believed that every job is an opportunity to learn new skills and have done everything from landscaping to telemarketing to tree planting. I started at Witz Education working part-time, 2 days a week, cleaning up the database. I understood that you sometimes you need to start at the bottom and gain experience before you can get to where you want to be. This was all taught to me by my parents, in particular my father who questioned what value I would bring to the family business and pushed me to get a business degree. In doing so, he was not telling me that having the degree would get me into the family business, but that it would open doors for me to gain experience so that down the road I might be able to join.
My advice to the Millennials entering the work force is to accept now that you might not get that position you want right away. If you are offered an opportunity, look not only at the position, but where it can take you. When researching jobs, see what internal training they offer or if they have a new grad program. Use LinkedIn and, if you have a connection, ask them what growth opportunities exist. Definitely something to ask in the interview!