Understanding Generation “Next”

April 30, 2008 at 5:53 pm Leave a comment

By Matt Barcus, President, Precision Executive Search, Inc.
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC, home of CivilEngineeringCentral.com

Okay, if you have not noticed, the analysis of “Generation Y” or “Generation Next” has been getting  a lot of attention in our industry these days.  You see this topic discussed here on our blog and forum, and it has been discussed in countless newsletters and trade journals, including the April e-newsletter published by CivilEngineeringCentral.com (If you would like to sign up for our newsletter BTW, click HERE ).  Now that we have the self promotion of our site out of the way, let me get to point 😉 !

I recently read the following comment on ERE:

“Serial job seekers job hop, as if they are job seeker junkies. They get a thrill from it. I think we will find a number of Gen Y Serial Job Seekers who are early in their career but I don’t think those individuals will be job hopping for long. In my experience of examining the Generations and their work values, Gen Y is not motivated by money. It is career pathing, social factors and a sense of job ownership that they seek.”

Barb Irwin & Cara Bobchek of HR Advisors Group in D.C. recently conducted a study which ultimately backs this statement up.  According to their research, the most significant factor in determining their (Gen Y)   decision to accept their current position was future career opportunities.  I believe that the young professionals of today will bounce around some early in their careers until they find the firm that delivers on their promises and will allow them to grow and advance at a faster pace than what we have seen in the past, and that offers a level of flexibility that this industry has not yet encountered.  I think they want to be loyal to a firm, as long as the firm is being loyal to them.  Part of the contributing factor to their frequent job changes early on, compared to earlier generations, is that there are SO many options out there SO readily available through SO many different medias, medias that did not exist in generations past.

Let’s look at another excerpt from the article written by HR Advisors Group:

‘ “…It seems that the younger generation is so used to whining and getting what they want. It almost seems like they feel that the company works for them instead of they work for the company.” ‘

It’s a common theme that we’re hearing more and more in our HR and management consulting practice:  younger workers appear to carry a “sense of entitlement” in their careers. Employers ask us, “How do we manage the younger generation in our firms, especially in light of the different approach that they seem to take to their careers than the older (my) generation?”

The “sense of entitlement” comment struck a chord with one of our readers who felt the need to respond to that tag with the following comment:

“Our generation keeps being blamed for that “entitlement” regarding our careers but I think the problem is that we now need to prepare ourselves more than the other generations.  I got out of college a yr ago with a degree in Business Management, another one in Civil Engineering and I am prominent in AutoCAD, Excel, Word, Powerpoint, Project…..not to mention I am fluent in english and spanish….but when looking for a job companies still offer us salaries as if we didn’t go to school and expect us to work 10+ hour days.  I don’t think “entitlement” is the problem, I think is those companies who don’t know the importance of their human resources what carries the real problem.  Getting an engineering degree is not easy, and therefore we deserve to be paid accordingly”

So what does all of this mean?  Where do we go from here?  How do we take the philosophy that has been successfully learned and depended on for so many years by the existing civil engineering leadership…and change it?  How is your organization responding to this issue?


Entry filed under: Civil Engineering Issues, Employee Retention, Generation "Y"/Generation "Next", Recruiting, Uncategorized. Tags: , , .

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