5/22/2013 5:15 PM ET|
Millennials wait as boomers hang on
Slow-to-retire older workers are often blamed for stifling opportunities for younger generations. The theory doesn't hold up, but tensions remain.
Younger workers can't seem to get a break. Just as members of the Millennial Generation were trying to launch their careers, the economy fell into the worst recession in decades. Even now, with the economy gradually recovering, the obstacles don't seem to let up.
You'd think the picture for younger workers would be improving, with unemployment down to 7.4% for ages 25-34 from a peak of well over 10% in 2010. But try telling that to someone like Chad Heard, who's struggling to get launched.
Heard, 25, blames baby boomers at least partly for his slow career start. He graduated in 2010 from Augusta State University in Georgia with a degree in business administration, finishing with a 3.8 GPA, including dean's list honors and a prestigious college marketing award.
Filled with ambition, he went on 24 interviews in rapid succession, all for entry-level positions. Not one produced an offer.
"Employers kept saying 'You need more experience.' But the jobs I was applying to were entry-level positions," he says. "I have tons and tons of drive. I was like, 'Give me a shot!'"
Heard lives with his parents in Augusta, giving him the financial security to try a new strategy: working for free.
He took four unpaid internships, at an advertising firm, a historical-preservation group, an economic growth organization and a municipal redevelopment authority.
His fifth internship, at a property management and redevelopment company, came with a salary and ultimately turned into a permanent position. But he's still wondering how he'll move off the bottom rung of the career ladder. Happy as he is to have work, his job -- project management coordinator -- uses his marketing and advertising background only sparingly.
The problem, Heard believes, is that entry-level jobs, which traditionally go to recent college graduates, are now being offered to workers with several years of experience in today's highly competitive environment.
"In my opinion, this phenomenon (is) mainly predicated upon two things: the economy . . . and the fact that upper management is now retiring later in life. It's a ripple effect that is felt all the way down to recent graduates."
Certainly, boomers, who make up a quarter of the nation's population, are retiring later. They're delaying retirement to rebuild depleted savings, make up for lost pensions and repay home-equity debt taken on during the free-spending housing boom. They are also staying healthy later in life than earlier generations, and some prefer to keep working.
Survey results help tell the story:
- Most workers polled by CareerBuilder this year said they plan to keep working after retiring from their current employer.
- Financial planners surveyed in 2011 by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants said half of their baby boomer clients were postponing retirement.
- The average boomer now expects to retire at age 68½, according to Met Life's 2011 Transitioning into Retirement Survey.
But while the trend is clear, the impact on younger workers is not. A spate of media stories has popularized the idea that boomers stand between younger workers and their goals. But research doesn't bear that out.
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This generation seems to always want someone to blame for their problems. Perhaps they need to take a good look at themselves and re-evaluate. Take a good look at what you think is important and see if it is really a necessity? New cars, IPhones, IPads, high priced data plans, eating out rather than cooking at home, all other expenses that are preventing you from being successful.
Then consider starting at an entry level job. You will not have much success if you expect to start at the top with no real job experience or history. Are you even employable?? If you show up to work 1 or more minutes late a week I would not hire you. Learn commitment!
This is why the boomers have been more successful. Good work ethnics. I will retire soon, just waiting to get the larger Social Security Check to go with my Pension and 401K. Same for my wife. We saved and worked since our early 20's and should retire with a larger income than I currently make. Saving 10% per paycheck is the way to go, regardless as to how little you make.
OK, I'm a 'baby boomer'... I was born in 1946, shortly after WW@ was over. I understand why I am called a baby boomer. Because of joyful copulation, many of us resulted... What I cannot understand is how the hell can someone born as late as 1950 and even into the 60's be called a baby boomer???
Where is the spontinaity? The happiness that the war was finally over? My mother got together with a Canadian Army man and they celebrated and partied, as many did... Guess who showed up... ME!...
Who was he? Don't know and don't care... A good man married my mom and gave me his name. What more could I want? Please don't blame me and my kind for the troubles brought about by ALL of the children born in the 50's, 60's 760', 80's, etc...
There are young folks who have realistic ideas about what to expect as they graduate from college but in my experience they are in the minority. So many of those I talked to at job fairs had some notion that going to school was going to spare them the "pay your dues" portion of life. I also saw definite signs of inner anger that the old generation wouldn't just die and make room for their obviously superior selves. I have news for them.
1. Being young and highly educated does not make you a better employee than the older folks who have been doing the job for years and who have learned a lot along the trail. Some of us even have degrees too and which is worth more--a Masters or a Masters and 20 years of experience?
2. Until you actually know how to do the work, your opinion really isn't worth a darn thing. You will have opinions and you will think that all the older workers, regardless of their title, are impediments to progress and hopeless fuddy duddies who should value your ideas. Some of us are hopeless, of course, and some of us are just hoping the end of the day will come before we have to take a 2X4 to you so the rest of us can get something done.
3. Just because you have a degree you aren't automatically worth more money. If you can't do the job it doesn't matter what initials you have behind your name and you sure as hell aren't automatically due any respect. You have to earn the money and you have to earn the respect.
4. There never has been, and never will be, any legitimate fast track to the corner office. If you know you're going to be the president of the company it just means that your Dad or Mom owns the place.
None of this is new as every oncoming generation thinks the older folks are just holding you back. We aren't, of course, we're just trying to keep you from making the same mistakes we wanted to make way back in the day.
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