25 Jobs in a 50 Year Career: Is Gen Y Ready?

JobsLast night on #InternPro Twitter chat, we had a very interesting – and for many, a scary – conversation… about jobs and careers.

Specifically, we discussed how many jobs the average Millennial will have in what everybody likes to call “The New Economy”.

Before we dive further into the conversation, some basic facts and reputable projections:

  • By 2020, 40% to 50% of all income-producing work will be short-term contracts, freelance work and so-called SuperTemps
  • The length of a career is already averaging 48 years; by 2020 it will be 50+ years
  • The average time in service at any one company for Millennials is currently 2.6 years

Admittedly, I am not really good at math. But this data is pretty conclusive…

2.6 years per job, over 50+ years, plus a couple temp assignments and contracts… and Gen Y is looking at 20 to 25 different jobs over the course of their careers.

Here’s the problem… or, rather, several problems:

No One Told Gen Y

Sandra Murphy Prepare for ThatDuring last night’s chat, the math genuinely scared many participants; no one had done the math. Plus, between parents, educators and old-school career experts, there seems to be a halo effect of an old paradigm: lifetime employment. Many still believe that once they graduate and get that first job, their job search is effectively over. Many are unprepared for reality.

Traditional Higher Education Hasn’t Noticed

Elisse Higher EducationMany traditional higher education stalwarts, not exactly known for adapting to changing economies and markets quickly, still feature old-school theory taught by tenured professors who’ve never held a position outside academia. Instead of teaching the skills that will be in demand throughout the “Freelance Economy”… we’re still shoving 1970’s courses and curriculum down the throats of unsuspecting students. Higher Education… must change. To remain relevant, they simply must start emphasizing transferable, marketable career skills.

We Aren’t Entrepreneurial Enough

Renita Terry SpecializeIn order to thrive as a SuperTemp, solopreneur or freelancer… one skill is required above all else: entrepreneurism. Why? Because when changing the principle means of supporting ourselves and our families, we will constantly be selling our skills, our value proposition and our niche.

In fact, with the average job search still at around 40 weeks, there will almost never be a time when we’re not selling… us.

Old School Recruiters Haven’t Adapted

Dawn Rasmussen 5 YearsOld-school recruiters, not ready to accept our new reality, discount job seekers whose resume shows they move every two to three years. They still consider this “job-hopping” – and many will not interview candidates with this tendency. They are labeled “disloyal” and a “long-term risk”.

Here’s the reality: between economic conditions, Gen Y’s penchant for moving on when they become restless or feel undervalued, and the inevitable entrepreneurial spirit that will soon be pervasive among job seekers… recruiters who stick to this now antiquated “rule” will lose out on some high-quality talent. In the meantime, their competitors will thrive.

Without a doubt, our new economy is already here. Those members of Gen Y who cling to old standards – because of influence by parents, higher education and recruiters – will undoubtedly continue to struggle. They will continue to do as trained – and will ultimately be looking for jobs that no longer exist.

Mark Babbitt GoldenThose young professionals, however, who recognize the new workplace for what it is, and learn the career skills required to win…

  • Strategic planning
  • Goal setting
  • Sales and digital marketing
  • Effective follow-up
  • Customer service
  • Integrity-based self-promotion

…will not only embrace the new economy, they’ll have surrounded themselves with success.





Mark BabbittAbout the Author: CEO and Founder of YouTern, Mark Babbitt is a serial mentor who has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO.com regarding job search, career development, internships and higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce. A keynote speaker and blogger, Mark’s contributions include Huffington Post, Bloomberg News, Switch and Shift, and Under30CEO.

Mark has been honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors,” HR Examiner’s “Top 25 Trendspotters in HR” and CareerBliss’ “Top 10 Gen Y Career Experts.” Mark is currently working on two new books: “A World Gone Social: How Business Must Adapt to Survive (AMACOM, June 2014) with Ted Coine and “The Ultimate Guide to Internships (And Making Your College Years Matter Again)” (Allworth, September 2014). Contact Mark via email or on Twitter!


Image courtesy of toughpigs.com… thank you!



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