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Passion, People and Principles

What New Hires Are Thinking

post # 148 — August 2, 2006 — a Careers, Managing post

Rachel Beanland (a PR practitioner from Amherst, Massachusetts) has just written a fascinating article called “Ten things you didn’t know about the grad you just hired “.

Here are her 10 lessons:

1. The grad you just hired didn’t have a hard time finding a job.

2. They know they’re underpaid, and they won’t put up with it longer than they have to.

3. It’s not taking them long to grow bored.

4. Even when they’re happy, they’re looking for another job.

5. Their bosses aren’t their mentors.

6. Getting thrown into the work force is turning them into experienced pros before their time.

7. Some don’t feel their universities prepared them for … (insert profession or industry name here)

8. They’re looking to find a balance between work and their personal lives.

9. Many of them would love to become independent practitioners or start their own firms one day.

10. They think they’ll stay in the (insert name) profession, but not necessarily in (the place they started.)

As Rachel writes when she quotes some of the 20-something’s she talked to: “If you’re not taking notes, there’s a great likelihood you’ll read some of these comments again anyway – in letters of resignation as up-and-coming talent goes on to bigger and better jobs.”


Ed Lee said:

Apart from #1, #5 and maybe #10, I can pretty much concur with all those points. I’m lucky enough to have just started a new PR job (after 3 years in my field) that has a lot of potential and I’m feeling more optimistic than ever!

I definitely see grads who think they can do it all as soon as they step out of the hallowed university gates (so to speak) and then have a small shock when work isn’t everything its cracked up to be.

posted on August 2, 2006

Leo Bottary said:

Nicely done and thanks for sharing. I think it provides solid insights for managers who read this and pay attention to what’s being said here. I look forward to passing this along.

posted on August 2, 2006

Steve Farber said:

Excellent list, David. I’m glad you found it and shared it with us. I agree: this goes way beyond the world of PR. I’ve seen similar dynamics in just about every company I come in contact with (and that’s a lot of companies). Seems to me that the response from leaders should be to make their working environments fulfilling and compelling—a place where new talent (and the rest of us) can fully bring their hearts and minds to work every day to do meanlingful and significant things.

Personally, I don’t think that’s too much to ask. Do you?

posted on August 2, 2006

Tim Burrows said:

I wonder how these attitudes change as employees age? I can report that I had many of these thoughts 15 years ago when I came out of university, but some have changed over time.

For example, the promise of higher pay by switching employers is seductive at first. After awhile, however, you realise that your best long-term option may be to stay with the one firm, so as to be “allowed” to take on roles with more responsibility, rather than taking on the same job with higher salary at another firm.

Certainly, the realities of life (i.e. mortgage and children) will cause many people to rethink the private practice idea.

Nontheless, I would imagine that many of the other points (e.g. work/life balance) would only become more strongly entrenched over time.

posted on August 2, 2006

Peter Macmillan said:


I wonder how many of the items on the list are more a reflection of current work culture than a generational distinction. Most of the factors identified by Rachel have been ever-present drivers in my own career for well over a decade.

Are there any other 40+ professionals who adhere to or are driven by the philosophies in items 3 to 10? Assuming there are, why do we do it when we are way past our twenties?

Are we simply young at heart, or is it our sensitivity to the changing work/life environment that has made us less reliant on others and more focussed on taking responsibility for shaping our own careers?

Could we therefore be making broader use of this research than just trying to keep our up-and-coming talent satisfied?


posted on August 3, 2006

David (Maister) said:

Let me comment in reverse order on some of the prceding posts.

Peter, I think you’ve identified a syndrome that has been under-discussed and analyzed.

It’s not only that younger generations have developed a different set of attitudes, and that they (alone) must be treated in new ways, but raher that the culture has changed so that ALL of us have.

It’s kind of like the 60s for those of us who were around then (sorry you youngsters!)What was significant wasn’t that young people copied the Beatles in hair syles, informality and lifsstyle. It was that the young became the bellwether for larger societal changes.

As Tim reports, the feelings in Rachels’s article are not new, but as Peter is suggesting, we may be living in a world where a majority of us feel this way about our careers.

That leads us to Steve’s question (or conclusion) that we are at a point where organizations have to be based on different assumptions than they were 30 0r 50 years ago. And Steve’s suggestion is, of course, one I support.

This all relates to the very first article I wrote about professional businesses (A Question of Balance), chapter 1 of Managing the Professional Service Firm.

In that piece I made some assumptions about the career paths that people wanted, and that firms and companies assumed they wanted.

Both those set of assumptions need to be re-examined, and my guess is that the analysis would lead to the conclusion that, to succeed, firms need to have differnt structures and policiess for ALL of us, not just the “uppity” younger generation!

posted on August 3, 2006