Monday, August 24, 2009

The generational cycle

Two months, and not a single interview. The resumes have been flying out at a feverish pace lately, but what good does it do when yours is buried beneath 200 others? This job market sucks. It is far worse than what I remember upon my graduation in 2005, which even then wasn't exactly setting the world on fire. In the two months after graduation, I sent out only a few resumes, but still received two interviews. The second landed me a job in Charleston, W.Va. Now, it appears harder than ever for us to showcase our skills to potential employers.

So where does this leave any of us in the bread line? Greg Tarr has a good plan by starting his own photography business. And Amanda Gillooly is freelancing while also doing research for the Innocence Institute. Others think going back to school would be the best idea. But none of these is even remotely close to a guarantee.

Which brings me to the generational gap of prosperity. The retired generation - our grandparents - fought in World War II and reaped the benefits of the post-war society. Suburbs and highways popped up as America recalibrated itself for peacetime. They earned everything, and took nothing for granted. That wealth trickled down to their children - our parents - riding the wave or prosperity and going to college. But in the end, that generation - the George W. Bush generation - took for granted what their parents gave them. Most of them worked hard, but the over-privileged and well-connected clicked the cruise control - giving their hardworking peers a bad name - without ever contemplating what would be left for their children.

The economy today is in its worst state since The Great Depression when our grandparents were young. So now it is up to us to rebuild this country, this economy. That's why I think the election of Barack Obama is so interesting. He rode the wave of a younger generation to win the presidency, and I think that signals a change in the direction of our country. Young people are a new force - just like in the 1940s - and it is now our turn to put our stamp on America. The status quo is finished. It is now our turn to fix the mistakes by the previous generation.


  1. All I know is that any company would be extremely lucky to have you. I mean that. I'm not speaking ill about the Observer-Reporter when I say that they made a mistake letting you go. You will be an asset to your next employer. Keep plugging away.

  2. Somebody like you needs to pick up the ball and put it back in the court.

  3. I don't want this post to sound like a pity party for us, but rather an explanation to the angry skeptics out there - many of whom have never been in this position before - that we're doing everything in our power to find work. It's a two-way street, which means it's also up to businesses to actually offer interviews/jobs.

    And I have a few outside-the-box ideas in the mix, Scott, which hopefully I can share with all of you in the near future.

  4. I am trying to get my jobless wife to be a street food vendor...

    One offering per day, different thing each day.

    Same price every day, regardless of item (let's say... 5 bucks)

    It will be called the 5 buck chuck wagon...

    That was yesterday's idea... tomorrow, it will be a dog grooming van... the next day, it will be selling custom gift baskets online...

    LoL :-) Good luck to all of yinz... I hope it works out for you.

  5. $5 seems a little high in this poor economy. You might want to offer some half-price specials... And didn't Harry and Lloyd already try the dog grooming shaggin' wagon?

  6. At first I was gonna go with 2 buck chuck wagon to play off the Trader Joe's wine... but then I was thinking, can I really come up with 5 good recipes that are significantly less than 2 dollars per serving?

    I think 4 dollars is doable... it's less than a value meal at McDonalds.

    There is a local company that does the dog grooming in a van thing... they park in your driveway, do their thing, and viola! I think that we would differentiate by doing dogs AND kids... LoL

    On a serious note... do you guys ever feel a competitive maliciousness in your job searches? Like... let's say Mike gets a lead on a job at company x and submits his resume... do you tell Greg that you applied at company x... or do you just keep your mouth shut and fingers crossed that company x calls you (screw greg)?

    I try to follow the rule that you always keep an eye open for a new job, even if you have one... and the tighter the job market gets, the more covetous I get of jobs that I DON'T EVEN NECESSARILY HAVE AN INTEREST IN! It's a ridiculous psychology... but it's a trap I fall into...

  7. It's rare to alert a friend/colleague about a job opening, but it does happen if you think a certain position is perfect for someone else. Regardless, even though we're doing our own homework, there are only so many job postings available, so it seems natural that we're applying for the same positions.

  8. Mike, your last paragraph depicts a dichotomy. Maybe that is not quite the right characterization, but there is a tension at work in what you propose. Let me explain.

    Earlier in your piece you spoke about the last generation having things handed down to them, a take-for-granted generation. Then you propose that it is up to this generation, the young folks, to get things moving again. Sorry, Mike, but I don't think it is a match.

    Yes, there are some in the young generation willing to "make it move." However, the mindset of the entitlement generation, as you depict them (and I don't disagree) is not to "make it move." Rather, the mindset is "have it move to me."

    The entrepreneur spirit is sadly lacking across this young generation. I've been through too many decades of work, as an employee, as an employer, and as a self-employ, to see very much moving in this generation. The motivation just isn't there. Obviously, this is painting with a very broad brush.

    When I see what young people expect to drive, what kind of house they believe they need to buy, how to outfit the house, and how to spend vacation, they are trying to duplicate their parents. This has put too many into deep financial holes. Many of them should be driving older cars, renting an apartment, buying furniture from the thrift, and using stay-cations for time off. Saving and building equity is not part of the thinking. And, this spills over into building a business, and willing to make huge sacrifices to get something up and running ("making it move").

    I hope all this makes some sense, or at least food for thought and discussion.

  9. I see the current generation as one of the most entrepreneurial ever... it is estimated that within a decade, 40% of the workforce will be independent contractors. Overwhelming percentages of recent graduates expect to start their own business at some point.

    There is something to be said about a good financial crisis... sometimes, hard times are what is necessary to really bring out the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit in people...

    We'll see what this generation makes of this opportunity.

  10. Being an independent contractor does not make an entrepreneur. I would agree about more independent contractors, but that is hardly a measure in the uptick of entrepreneurship. I think you are right that many expect to start their own business at some point. But, their reasons for making these statements are pretty flimsy (e.g. want my own schedule, make my own decisions, free from a boss, etc).

    I don't think you have lived long enough to see the cycles and response to those cycles. Hard work, self-sacrifice and commitment are not part of the new generation. Again, a broad brush, but the sparkling nuggets are far and few between.

  11. Yeah, on that I agree... There is a high propensity of dumbassery in my generation...

    but I suspect that was true for all the previous, greater generations... 100 years from now, we will all be dead... and people will look back at our generation and only see the sparkling nuggets.

  12. Roger, to your earlier point. Let me preface this by saying I think I painted with too broad of a brush. Most in those earlier generations did everything right, and it was only a select few that landed us in this mess. But I do think there was a mentality that the status quo would keep us as a prosperous nation. The same goes for the younger generation. By no means do I think everyone will buy into a movement, but I certainly think it is possible to energize many of them. You're right, there are a lot of slackers out there, but this is basically a call to motivate our generation into action.

    As for what we drive and where we live... I drive a 2005 Chevy Cobalt that I paid off in 35 months and I bought a small home in early 2008 with a fixed interest. And I saved money in the event that I would lose my job. Now I am in a position to ride out the storm. Not everyone is like this, but I think a lot of younger people are doing it the right way.

    Thanks for your comment and offering an opposing viewpoint.

  13. One other thing, Roger. I merely said this is my generation's first opportunity to improve society. That doesn't mean we will...

  14. In motha russia, society improve generation!

  15. Great points, MJ. Keep at it, someone out there needs exactly what you bring to the table.