Millennials Value Authenticity, Forgo Security

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Millennials Value Authenticity

This is very good news for all of us. If you’re a recent college grad or young professional looking for a job and can’t find one, you’re luckier than you think. The recent great recession, a once in a century event, pushed nearly everyone to think about what’s really important, and that almost never happens unless things really tank. When resources are scarce, we prioritize, get more efficient, become a lot more creative and think deeper about what matters the most. It’s music to my ears that for millennials, authenticity trumps security, status, and money. Truth be told, although I’m a Gen-Xer by age, I’m was a millennial in spirit back in the 80s when today’s millennials were in strollers. 

We know that tens of millions of jobs have vanished and most aren’t coming back. We’re in a new world economy; average is over. If I were a twenty-something, I would probably freak out, then eventually chill out, then gradually warm up to the idea that all the easy, low hanging fruit is gone. It’s much harder to make your way in this economy. This is very good news for your long-term fulfillment. 

At this rare moment in your life time, circumstances are giving you the permission to think about what you really want. If jobs were easier to come by (like they were before the bubble burst), would you take the easy road to the hot, trendy job with a nice income, benefits, BMW, and comfy lifestyle?  Or, would you be one of the 64% of millennials that say screw the money and the shiny new stuff; I’m going to figure out what my real passion is and go for it?  The lure to sell out for security has fizzled, there is no such thing as a secure job. You might as well do what you are. 

For the first time in a long time, maybe since the Great Depression, it’s actually less risky to do something more entrepreneurial than it is to take the tried and safe path. 

You’ve got nothing to lose, right? Waiting for the jobs to come back is a very risky strategy. Economists say we’re stuck with stagnant unemployment for 20 more years. We have to reinvent our middle class, that’s going to take a generation. So In the meantime, companies are doing more with less people and ever better technologies; they are leaner and much, much pickier about who they hire. If you’re not mastering your natural gifts, on your own time, it’s going to be tough going.

A group of recent college grads who call themselves the Young Entrepreneurs Council have taken this to heart. Rather than searching for a “read-made job” to do somebody else’s grunt work, they are throwing their resumes in the trash can and figuring out what they are best at doing, then creating valuable products and services, all by using their own ingenuity and very low cost business technologies (think websites).  

Even if you’re not up for an entrepreneurial venture, it’s wise to think like one. Entrepreneurs come from a space of creating their future; they don’t like the idea of “finding” a ready-made job-off-the-shelf. Before entrepreneurs invent new ideas, they first reinvent themselves. Your career is just an expression of you. There’s nothing “out there” to find that’s exactly right for you. 

Cool and awesome employers want the real you. Hundreds of CEOs of the best companies gave excellent interviewing tips in the Corner Office column of Business section of the Sunday NY Times. Most seek to hire people who know what their natural strengths are and who have a clear sense of direction and purpose. Credentials matter, but not as much as you think. What matters is that you are being real, authentic, and know what you’re talking about. You can’t fake a genuine interest in your career, you’ve got to be into the subject matter and care problems you want to solve.

How to figure this out and get started? Well, let go of the conventional idea that a career is something to find. Instead, start thinking about what you want your life to be about. It’s a very good time to think like an entrepreneur, at least in spirit. You can custom design your own career path. That’s what it’s going to take to not only get a good job in the short-term, but more importantly, to stay intrinsically motivated over the long-term.

When you pave your own way, success, mastery and sustainable drive will come. If you can’t find the perfect job ready-made, you’ve got to make it up and gradually build it over a decade or more, adapting as you go.    

Let’s wrap with a quote:

The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.  ~George Bernard Shaw

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