The Net Gen meets a recession

“The swooning economy has also poured a cold shower on many Generation Yers, who grew up coddled, courted and figuring they’d have an easy career ride.”

There’s no doubt that the short-term job market prospects for anyone looking for a career change have been disrupted by the last six months of economic upheaval. We’ve gone from touting the war for talent to focusing on the impacts of delayed retirement and decimated pension funds on the workplace.

As a recent McKinsey report notes, “Eighty-five percent of the boomers we surveyed said that it was at least somewhat likely that they would continue to work beyond the traditional retirement age. Nearly 40 percent said that it was extremely likely, and of those, two-thirds emphasized financial reasons.”

Their decisions to either stay in, or re-enter, the workforce may push less-experienced grads and Net Geners further down the HR queue and mark a temporary end to the concept of the much-sought-after Net Gener. Economic growth from 2000 forward had kept job markets buoyant and left new grads feeling as if they were in the drivers seat. A deep recession however may smash that perceived leverage. As one commentator noted, “So it’s the Yers, mostly in their 20s, doted on and over-protected by parents, and aggressively courted by employers, who, will be most psychologically affected by this softening of opportunities. Like boomers, they thought they were special.”

But like Boomers, they’ll eventually get their turn. In the long-term, demographic trends will remain unchanged and lead to an ongoing competition for talent and skills across North America, East Asia and Europe. (Moreover, of those surveyed by McKinsey who had retired early, over half had done so for health reasons making a return to the workforce in the short-term unlikely.)

If anything now might be the time to be looking for a new job – forward thinking, strategic employers will see a glut of good young talent on the market as an opportunity to stock up for the long-term… not a bad place for a Net Gener to find a home.


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