If your dad is like most Gen Xers, he’s probably given you a fair share of job-related advice. He helped you get a suit for your first job interview. He told you to not fear rejection. He stressed the importance of having a learning attitude throughout your career.
When it comes to launching a successful career, your old man has been there and done that. That means he’s worth listening to, right?
Not necessarily. While your dad may have been successful in his working years, things have changed since he first entered the job market.
What has changed since then? A lot, actually. Read on to find out how your career will likely differ from your dad’s.
1. Job Competition Is Fiercer Than Ever
A generation ago, employers were much less choosy about their job candidates. If you had a college degree, you were almost guaranteed to find a good job.
Now, the competition for good jobs is bordering on cutthroat. According to the United States Census Bureau, more than one-third of Americans have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
A college degree is no longer your ticket to a job, but merely proof that you have the ability to learn. Employers today are pickier than ever and want someone who has “real world” experience.
2. You’ll Begin Your Career with Debt
Speaking of college degrees, that brings us to another stark difference between you and your dad’s career: You likely began your career with a mountain of student debt, thanks to skyrocketing college tuition rates. In comparison, your dad’s college tuition was far more affordable.
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Americans owed nearly $1.5 trillion in student loans in the second quarter of 2019. The crushing weight of this debt can and often does lead college graduates to abandon their career plans just to pay off the debt.
3. Looks Play a Bigger Role in Career Success
You don’t want to be passed up for a job interview or a promotion, do you? Then you might want to do something about the pimple on your nose and stop wearing wrinkled clothing to work.
While we all want to be judged on our skills and talent alone, the truth of the matter is that looks now play a significant role in how successful we are in our careers. Good-looking people have the upper hand in the workforce, which is one of the reasons why guys are turning to Botox to help them remain competitive in their careers.
Sure, your dad might say that looks also played a role in his generation of job seekers. However, we would argue that technology and social media has made things a lot worse for the newest generation entering the workforce.
Which leads us to our next point…
4. Your Social Media Presence Is a Liability
Obviously, we don’t know your dad. But, if he was even the slightest bit of a party animal in his younger days, then he should be grateful that social media wasn’t around to potentially ruin his career.
These days, it’s not uncommon for hiring managers to comb through social media profiles of prospective employees. According to research published in the International Journal of Work Innovation, employers are indeed using Facebook to weed out job candidates based on their lifestyle, appearance and attitudes.
While the legality of hiring or firing someone over their social posts is still a gray area, it’s best to play it safe by scrubbing your social media presence. Also, make sure that your friends don’t tag you in any inappropriate posts from your crazy, weekend shenanigans.
5. Companies Are More Transparent
It’s not all doom-and-gloom for young professionals today. On a bright note, companies are far more transparent than they were back in your dad’s day.
When your dad was searching for a job, he had to trust that what the company told him was the truth. Now, we have the internet and websites such as Glassdoor to give us the inside scoop on what a company is truly like before we accept a job offer.
6. Job Changes Are the New Normal
Gone are the days when a loyal worker would stick with his company for 20 years. Today, people are changing jobs more frequently in order to chase a bigger paycheck and better benefits.
Another reason many people change jobs is to feel passionate and fulfilled. Today’s professionals want a job that does more than just put food on the table. They want to care about what they do.
Before you throw down your two weeks’ notice on your boss’s desk, it should be noted that not all job changes are looked at favorably. If you don’t want to raise any red flags with your resume, try to stay with a company for at least three years before jumping ship.
7. Soft Skills Are Just as Important as Hard Skills
The ability to communicate effectively, empathize and be flexible are just a handful of soft skills that hiring managers look for in candidates. Although these skills have always been valued to some degree, they’re becoming even more important in today’s technology-driven job market.
According to a 2019 study published in California Management Review, researchers say that the expansion of artificial intelligence (AI) is rendering many “thinking” jobs obsolete. As a result, employees need to develop their emotional intelligence skills to compete against AI.
Some scientists predict that AI will eventually take over many “feeling” jobs as well. But you should worry about that for another day. In the meantime, consider focusing on improving your emotional intelligence skills to future-proof your career.
Your dad has probably helped you a lot throughout the years. He’s taught you the value of hard work, the importance of being honest and how to shave with the grain, among other helpful nuggets of advice.
That being said, your dad isn’t always right–especially when it comes to your career. The job market is constantly changing and looks a lot different today than it did a generation ago. Be respectful to your dad while taking his words of wisdom with a grain of salt. Your career will likely be better off for it.