jReshea & the Bermuda Triangle: Navigating Millennialism and the Classical Job Market

Yesterday I went to a session at the 2015 Journalism Interactive Conference on how to create a killer profile (“advice for students who will soon be entering the job market”). The session was divided between an Adobe employee and a journalism professor at the University of Mississippi. The Adobe employee, Sebastian Distefano, taught us how to use Adobe’s Muse software to create a website that was unique and could convey our individualism to prospective employers. The journalism professor taught us how to not mess up our resumes, cover letters and websites which as you know most employers only take 45 seconds to try and find something to cut you lose with. Listening to other professors and journalists in the room chime in with their own tidbits of advice and the things that they look for to cut down the stacks of resumes to sift through, it reminded me of a session that I went to at another conference earlier that year specifically for interacting with alumni and getting a better idea of the workplace many would soon be entering into.

One of the panel members spoke on his own experiences as a young bright-eyed professional where his eagerness at the time now looked like selfishness and fashion gave way to professionalism. “Stick around for longer than a year.” If there was one piece of advice he could give us, it would be to resist the urge to find something bigger and/or better and find out what it really means to commit to an organization, flaws and all.

Now on the surface and somewhere deep down in the core of it, that’s not bad advice. Somewhere in the middle though, it gets murky and it’s hard to tell what’s nutritious information that will help you grow and what’s just filler that will satiate you “in the mean time”. It’s probably not a bad idea to stick around an organization for more than a year and to get an in-depth understanding of what it means to have a work community – a community that depends partially on you whether or not problems get resolved and growth or failure are experienced, a community where a level of trust develops between you and your coworkers that doesn’t happen in a 6-month probationary period. It will probably help develop your problem solving skills in the long run as well as your ability to convince the higher-up’s that the projects you want to implement are not actually frivolous but necessary (that’s called marketing folks, pitch skills).

Many times it is easy for our generation to get caught up in a popcorn mentality. Which Youtube-attention-spans (three minutes or less) and listicals instead of long form, we are notorious for saying “Get to the point, I’m low on caffeine.”

However, the good advice of learning how to commit time and energy over a sustained period of time is often lost in the advice of committing yourself to an organization that is not committed to you. Our wonderful changing job market is realizing that while there are an abundance of millennials (as well as older candidates thanks to the decrease in retirement eligibility) to choose from we don’t stick around long because at the end of the day, we’re not happy.

We’re not inspired, we’re not fulfilled and we’re more socialist then our predecessors which often equates to a sense of entitlement. Low wage jobs that don’t meet the bare requirements for living in America while also escaping the general human desire to contribute something of use to the overall human good is not cutting it for millenials. Millenials will be poor for a cause they believe in, we’ve seen that. But for vague, dim-lit opportunities to climb a corporate ladder that come and go like horses on a carousel? Put your money where your mouth is if you believe that.

We see with the growth of Career Development programs among companies that they’ve identified this as a turn-off to the job market. Among that, the development of the internet and all it’s add-ons have made it incredibly easy – although daunting – to create those opportunities for yourself. When people are looking for ways to count you out, it’s perfectly okay to create your own ways to get back in the game.

In a market where companies want to see individualized resumes, cover letters and experience that targets just them the best job searching advice that I’ve heard thus far is to apply for positions that suit you! For the last decade, the word has been to simply apply for as many jobs as possible in order to keep your options open and create safety nets. You should be applying for more than one or two jobs but you should not just be applying for any job that may take you. If you’re going to invest in an organization and possibly spend the next few years of your life there struggling and growing and tuckering yourself out, make sure it’s one that’s worth it.

Don’t waste the time of the employer and yourself by applying to a position you have actual little interest in. Don’t harbor over your resume into the wee hours of the night just to resent the organization because in the end “it wasn’t worth it.” These businesses want a lot from you, but only give it to the ones that will give it back, whatever it is that YOU need.

If you need for them to pay for conferences and career development opportunities, focus on that. If you need a built in yoga studio, go for it. If you need remote access opportunities and flexible work schedules then that’s your selling point.

I’m tired of seeing others medicate away the pain of not being at the place in their careers where they want to be. There’s a time to hold ’em folks and there’s a time to fold ’em. But there’s also a time to just get up from the table and walk clean away.

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