Val’s Bites – Career Anyone?

Historically, careers were built at one company.  Push that mail cart right into your dream job, reporting to a smart and savvy boss who would take you under their wing.  Actually train and mentor you and challenge you to take on projects they’d rather not do and entrust it to you.  You would stay late and go above and beyond to impress, knowing that projects with increasing complexity would come your way and get you closer and closer to the inner circle where you could influence company strategy.  Career development was prioritized over family and quality of life.  You knew you had the stuff to make it big and you could get there via the rotation track, learning the business from the inside out.  It might take you 8 or 10 years, but it was a near guarantee for a high-potential person like you.  A good life, with vacations and camaraderie and job satisfaction.  Were you really happy?  Yes, actually, you didn’t know any different.  You never considered taking your career somewhere else.  The company took care of you.  Until it didn’t, and that was a crushing blow.  Complacency caught you off guard.  The world around you changed, and without notice.

Career Transformation

The majority of the workforce is victim to that reality as we are all in a time of transformation in work.  Either embrace it, and fast, or it will eat you alive.  Why did this happen?  Money got cheap and some corporations got greedy and we all know that story.  We are still evolving into what’s next in our world of work.  Many cannot make the leap, too many.  Those who have are learning to accept that careers are now built one company at a time.  The pace has changed, and that’s OK, if you can adjust to the frequent shifts of direction.  There are still companies that offer career development but they are disappearing fast.  The average tenure at a company today for those under 30 is under 3 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  And I would wager it’s actually less than that, from personal experience in representing 100s of young professionals.


Millennials are not all slackers; they, too, are victims.  They are trying to build careers in companies that love being lean where their managers have zero time or inclination to mentor and teach.  Must haves:  impressive education and system skills and do your best to absorb the company culture around you, if there is one.  Without a commitment to develop, vital knowledge is getting lost.

I hear from clients that many new hires seem disinterested in applying their education to their work and taking initiative, clock-watchers who only perform at a baseline level, good enough to maintain but not wagging the tail and hungry for more.  Why is that?  Millennials say they are misunderstood, that they think fast on their feet, that they can do tasks more quickly than their bosses and want to be recognized for good work.  And what’s wrong with wanting to have a social life or go to band rehearsal or shoot hoops after work?  Or plan an enriching travel experience?  Give them a reason to stay.  If the company doesn’t invest in them, they won’t invest in the company.  There are plenty of jobs out there.  And they are right.  They will get jobs, lots of them.

New Company Cultures

This is not just a millennial issue anymore. The tech universe has pushed all levels of employees to evaluate their roles and their contribution.  The days of 110% commitment to a company aren’t there anymore.  People want and need time with family and time for self care.  They cannot spend hours in the commute.  The company culture development of the last 10 years no longer means everyone needs to look, talk, and eat the same food.  They just need honest leaders with a broad worldview who can reward individuality and embrace a great idea, from wherever it may come.  This is the very source of company morale.

Future Work Models

Traditional work models of punching in and out have to stop.  When will the revolution finally take hold that most employees can be productive working remotely?  They absolutely can or why are they still there?  Too many industries are fading into oblivion and companies that are investing in tech will be the winners.  I don’t want to work alongside bots in my lifetime.  They are cute, but that’s one adjustment I’m not ready to make!  Successful humans will be the ones doing the jobs bots cannot:  in the performing and fine arts, designing and conceptualizing things, and the grand art of sales.  Art will always balance science or tech and the more important tech becomes, so will art and humanity.

And that gives me some level of comfort.


About the Author:

Valerie Rodriguez, Director of Consulting and Executive Search, Beacon Resources. Val specializes in guiding clients from startups to Fortune 1000 in growing their business and manages project initiatives through the acquisition/retention of top talent and identification of first class finance and accounting professionals in the Southern California region.