Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Being without a job is new to Gen Y

I have spent most of my career being between jobs. Of course, I've been basically freelancing for the last dozen years, so that's to be expected. But it's also a function of my generation.

I entered the work force around 1990, when a recession was underway (nothing like this one, which is global, but still there were no jobs) and full time jobs were unheard of for the average university grad. My parents worked for the same employers most of their working lives, but I came to work not expecting to stay anywhere for too long. Luckily I managed to cobble together a career out of it, but being without work was a pretty common thing for me.

So I pity the newly unemployed Gen Ys, especially those just starting to buy homes and start families. Because they've spent their entire working careers in a labour environment where they could call all the shots, ask for the moon and get it. And now this, where they may not be able to find any work, or at least any work above serving coffee at Starbucks (or are they laying off too?).

Okay, maybe pity isn't the first word I would have used there. I'm a typical Gen Xer -- bitter about the raw hand demographics and timing have dealt me, so part of me can't help but smirk, maybe even chuckle, at this situation Gen Yers are now in, because it's about time they felt my pain.

But then today I read Penelope Trunk's column on what to say to someone who'd been laid off, and her straightforward, make-it-easier-on-them advice kind of shamed me. So now it's more like pity.

And in that case, I offer some advice. You'll get through it, you'll still manage in the long run, and people like me are here to help if we can.

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