This feature was written by freelance writer Georgina Lawton
How many times have you heard your Mum and Dad talk about how the job market (and everything else for that matter) was different in ‘their day’? Yes, things have changed considerably across two generations but we’re not sure if it’s got any easier. Back in the 1970s, for example, wages and property prices were more on-par (meaning the idea of saving up and actually buying a house was a realistic expectation if you worked hard) whereas now, home ownership for anyone under 35 is a lot like the unicorn (i.e. a complete myth but some are still holding out for it). However, us youngsters do get to enjoy better career prospects than our parents, and thanks to technology, we’ve got a better platform to broadcast our skills and talents out to the world. That old saying of waiting for ‘opportunity to knock’? Not with us.
Anyway, because it’s National Careers Week and we need to re-examine how we’re approaching the job market in 2016, we’ve rounded up the best pearls of wisdom from our parents to either listen to, ignore completely or consider in part.
‘You need to get a job for life’ – CONSIDER
Ah, the ‘job for life’ – just like the Tesco ‘bag for life’ – except harder to find. During our parents’ era, the idea of getting a job and staying in it, literally for your entire lifespan, was the epitome of success. You worked your way up, secured a pension, and didn’t leave unless you were made to. But these days we travel more, we’ve got a set of varied and transferable skills, and we’re less likely to settle for a career if it’s not fulfilling. Not to mention, the rise of zero hours contracts and freelance gigs means that we have to move around a hell of a lot more than our Mum and Dad did because the economy is dictating that we do so. Whilst many of us still crave the security our parents had, there’s those of us (*cough* journalists, designers, creatives etc) who will just have to get used to switching our work places up every so often – simply because we have no choice.
‘Stop spending so much time on Facebook/Twitter/the internet’ – IGNORE
There are some parents who just don’t realise that a full day’s work can be done on social media. From building your own brand on LinkedIn, to teaching yourself HTML, or even networking with professionals on Twitter, the internet really is the place for anyone to beef up their CV. Want to be a writer? Start blogging. Fancy a killer placement over summer? Start tweeting the manager. Nearly 12 million people lack basic digital skills in the UK, according to a survey by digital charity Go On, and although your Mum might have an excuse for not knowing what an app is, you certainly don’t – because it could seriously hinder your job prospects.
‘You shouldn’t have to intern with a degree!’ – CONSIDER
Next time your Nan asks if you’ve got a ‘proper’ job yet, politely inform her that the current economic conditions render your degree pretty much useless without work experience. Ok, so that’s not strictly true, but these days being a graduate doesn’t hold as much sway as it used to because er, everyone’s a graduate (thanks Tony Blair). A 2013 study revealed that half of the UK’s top graduate employers said students with a first class degree and no work experience had ‘little or no chance’ of securing a job at their firm (yikes), so even if you’re a complete brainbox, get perfecting that cover letter. (And thankfully that’s one thing your parents will probably be great at helping you with).
‘Good grades are important’ – LISTEN
Yeah you can try and tell your parents that you know (of) 17-year olds who have made their millions by vlogging, but it’s not going to wash with your parents because: a) they have no idea what vlogging is and b) they’ll always see education as your most valuable asset. And guess what? They’re probably right. Although technology has completely changed the way we broadcast our skills (and earn money), society hasn’t evolved that much in that good grades are still seen as the passport to a good level of success. So people like Zoella, Richard Branson and Lord Sugar who skipped university in favour of staring out on their own? They’re really the exception. And whilst it’s great to start building your empire before you sit your GCSE’s, just make sure you turn up for your exams, because you’re *always* going to need a back-up plan…
‘Don’t ask for that time off’ – IGNORE
Unlike our parents’ generation, an increasing number of millennials (those born after 1985) are demanding for a work-life balance that was generally unheard of 40 years ago. And guess what? It seems that employers are listening. A 2015 study by EY showed that our parents worked less hours for less money and therefore expected less holiday time than we do, but because more is demanded of us youngsters, we want to be properly compensated for it in terms of getting our work-life balance just right. According to the survey, we’re willing to take pay cuts and pass up promotions in favour of flexible working schedules and the opportunity to travel or take a year off. And because the workforce looks set to be dominated by young people within the next few years, more employers are giving in to our demands. Now if we could just convince them to scrap unpaid internships…
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