In “5 Steps to a Better Career” David Kinnaman of the Barna Group gives advice to young workers on cultivating career contentment.
Kinnaman starts by relating an interaction he had with a Gen Y worker at his office. During their meeting, the young man expressed all the things he wanted out of the job. His list consisted of the things that take time and hard work to achieve, such as respect from superiors, flexible hours, high-profile projects. Not surprisingly, the young man moved on shortly thereafter in search of greener pastures.
I think this episode reflects a challenge facing the next generation: knowing how to cultivate great professional lives. Research conducted by our company, the Barna Group, shows that most of us in our 20s and 30s aspire to have solid careers. Yet, many experts are predicting the youngest workers will continue to have a hard time getting and keeping jobs because many older, qualified workers are staying in the workforce longer. Business Week magazine recently called young workers “The Lost Generation” because the poor economy is tearing down their ladder of career mobility.
Here’s the thing: beyond these trends, I believe career building is becoming a lost art. As a business leader, I wonder whether most young workers know how to craft credibility, stamina and expertise in their profession. So here are some things to consider while career building—input I would have given Brian (had he asked).
The job front is rough right now. Many of my friends are looking for a job that pays the bills let alone a job that makes them happy. Kinnaman’s article is empowering because it offers practical advice on being proactive in career building. He gives solid suggestions on how to know when to press on and when to move on.
One especially good piece of advice he gives is: Seek out mentors in the workplace:
Who you work for is often more important than where. I see too many young leaders put too much weight on getting the right title or getting to work at the right name-brand company. If you can work for a major business with a great brand and an elite team, do it. But don’t forget that some of the best training in the workplace means finding amazing mentors, not just landing a killer job. If you have a choice between a job with a great company or a job with a great mentor, choose the latter. If you can find something with both, even better.
In a strange way, finding fulfillment in a less-than-perfect job reminds me of being single when you want to be married. You may not be in your “ideal” situation, but you get out of life what you put into it. Small adjustments and the right attitude can make all the difference when it comes to on-the-job contentment.