February 6, 2024

The Unique Sh*tstorm For Young Professionals

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Episode Highlights

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Remote on-the-job learning is hard. College loans are astronomically expensive. And no one knows what skills AI will make irrelevant (if any.)

Change is constant. But a lot of it at once is a lot to take in. Especially those just beginning their careers.

Jeff Smith and James Hornick didn’t play generational favorites but they did point out the obvious in episode 82 of The 10 Minute Talent Rant, “The Unique Sh*tstorm For Young Professionals

Watch the replay via Hirewell Talent Insights here. You can subscribe to Hirewell’s YouTube or on the Talent Insights podcast (Apple, Google, Amazon, and Spotify) there as well.

Episode Transcript

The 10 Minute Talent Rant is live. I’m James Hornick, joined by Jeff Smith and we are on the clock. The 10 Minute Talent Rant is our ongoing series where we break down things that are broken in the talent acquisition and hiring space, maybe even pitch a solution or two, probably not today. Before we dig in, all of our content can be found on talentinsights.hirewell.com.

This week’s topic, episode 82, Unique Sh*tstorm for Young Professionals. It’s real. It’s real. It’s a real thing. Yeah. Just throwing profanity in our titles. We’ve gotten really lazy. Anyways. Someone told me that once. Like, profanity is like a lazy man’s way of like, eh, F that. I don’t believe it.

Counterpoint. Counterpoint. People of high intelligence also swear more. Yes. It is also true. Yes. Okay. So we had an observation and this one I’m giving the over under on today’s 15 minutes. I don’t think we can cram this into 10. Yeah. The team had an observation. There’s a lot of change happening at the same time.

And now this is usually when the old dudes step up and say, well, in my day, and then they rattle off a button, you know, you’ve walked uphill both ways of school and all this and it was worse. It’s always been like that. But when I look at my experience when I was just getting going in my career, I actually don’t think it’s true.

I think there’s actually way more happening now and changes happening at a faster rate than it was 20 years ago or kind of whenever. And before we get into this, we’re not pointing this out to make excuses for a younger generation or like that, but really just taking a step back to acknowledge like, wow, there’s a lot going on here. It’s a lot to take in.

And I think, especially for people who are trying to figure out office politics and sales 101 or whatever, like your field is. There’s-

It’s a more, I believe it’s honestly a more difficult space to navigate than it was before. And specifically, there’s kind of three things happening at the exact same time. There’s remote work, there’s do we need degrees? and there’s everything happening with AI. Yep. Think about this in the workforce right now, there’s people who like, went to college and were young people with cell phones or like, iPhones and Android. And there’s people who weren’t. And how much has changed just from that, like, compare, you know, and contrast that example. Like, in back in our day, if we’re going to start talking like old. Like, it was a simple plan, like, go to college, become an office dork, work a defined role, have varying degrees of success and, you know, and raises, grind.

You know, tech innovated slowly, you know, no one’s job fundamentally changed overnight, and now we’re here. So let’s get into it. Yeah, so first off remote work and like how to actually learn anything remotely.

There’s a couple studies that came out. There’s one in particular that I think it got a lot of- made a lot of waves. So it came from University of Pittsburgh, I think the Katz graduate school. And this was reported on a bunch of places, Washington Post, Forbes, Yahoo, pretty much everyone carried this story.

Ultimately it analyzed a sample of S&P 500 firms between June 2019 and January 2023. It’s like 457 firms total, looked at 4,455 quarterly earnings reports. Sorry, I’m trying to read this so I’m accurate. Looking at everything from like quarterly results and company stock prices. Comparing those who have mandatory return to work and those who don’t.

Who did better financially? Any guesses? And it’s, I was shocked actually. It made no difference whatsoever. There was zero correlation between people who had returned to work versus companies that didn’t have return to work. No difference whatsoever financially in the bottom line of these organizations.

And also, like, to, like, shoe in mouth for us because we, you know, this is why I say I was surprised, you know, I was wrong about that. I mean, that data like slapped me in the face a little bit. Yeah. Yet they’re still pushing it, it’s still picking up more and more momentum for return to work. Now the other thing that came out of this, 99% of companies that had returned to work, had lower morale and employee satisfaction than those who didn’t.

So basically at the expense of zero net financial gain, you’re just pissing off your employees, making them less happy. Also from the Wall Street Journal, workers logging on from home five days a week, we’re 35% more likely to be laid off in 2023 than peers who went to the office, according to the analysis.

So basically there’s no financial benefit to it, no one’s happy doing it, but if you don’t do it, you’re 35% more likely to be let go. Yeah, it’s a complete mind F. Yeah. To keep the swearing at a minimum. We’ve already hit our quota, anyways. Yeah. So, we’ve actually already talked about this, if we hearken back, what, nine episodes?

Nine episodes. Episode 73, we talked about, is remote work making us dumber? Look, there are very, very valid reasons for onsite work, especially, unfortunately, for junior workers, like onsite training’s easier, osmosis learning is real, you get to develop relationships face to face. I mean, there’s a myriad of things that work to your benefit, right?

Yeah, and there’s, I mean, it really comes down to, like, putting yourself in the shoes of a good junior person, you can either work remote, not learn as much, because those are the people who really need to be on site, and be more likely to, and if you’re working remote, you’re also more likely to get cut. Or you can go on site, learn from senior people who don’t even want to work there, and hate your job.

So, good luck picking that one. I’ve always said, and we said in our last kind of show we did here, the fix is like for remote work overall, not just for junior peoples, we need to like move towards some sort of results based work policy, you know, and invest more in learning and development. That’s another rant for another day. But that’s really kind of why this study was so fascinating is because there was no results based cumulative like from it, you know what I mean?

It’s like if it said return to work was better from a financial standpoint, I’d be like, cool, let’s do it. Like I was wrong about all this stuff, but results weren’t there. Yeah. I give the market credit, like talent management, which encompasses L and D is becoming like the forefront, like HR competency outside of talent acquisition. Like employee relate, like the core HR competencies are kind of getting pushed to the transactional bucket, which is fine.

There’s, there is an emphasis on this. But like, we hear it all the time from the, you know, the younger folks, like, things are hard. We didn’t get the training that we needed, you know, but no shit, like, it is hard. You know, I’ve actually had multiple conversations where I’m like, I don’t know what I’m doing because I’ve only sat as a remote manager for a finite period of time.

So I’m learning too. Right? Yeah. I think this comes down to it has always been hard and the fact that you don’t have to drag your bones out of bed at 6:30 a.m. and go to an office. Like and news flash, this is where like all the learning opportunities are happening anyways. Like, yeah, like it’s common sense.

You’re right. You know, training remotely sucks. It’s hard, but it’s not just your company or our company or just in your own subjective view. It’s almost every company and seeing, hearing things live will always beat seeing and hearing them virtually. Like it comes down to the big winners of all of this are always, it’s the same big winners as it’s been over time.

The innate self starters that can just get shit done, they’re the ones that are walking away scot-free. The only people really succeeding are the entrepreneurs, those people that don’t need structure, you know, the people who can take something with minimal, you know, guidance and move forward with it.

It’s the same as it ever was. Yeah, and for the purpose of this conversation, like, I just want to point out this has an asymmetric effect on younger workers. They’re more impacted by this. They haven’t yet built the baseline knowledge or skills to understand, like, what they need to know.

They’re not yet self sufficient, yet. Because- And as the olive branch back, all they hear is remote work is “better work life balance.” Like, why? Like, that’s another topic is, how does that correlate to better work life balance just because you get to get up and wear your pajamas to work? Like, come on. So, all right, we beat that to death.

Number two. Number two. Uselessness of the degrees. Look, let’s be honest. The generation for this doesn’t matter. There’s very few of us who actually use the utility of the degrees we paid for. So, 90% of us, you know, learned more in the first, 3 months of our professional lives than we did in 4 or more years of college, you know, getting our comm or history or whatever, you know, liberal arts degree that we got.

The rub here is boomers and Gen X, you know, didn’t have to mortgage their entire future on it. Millennials got the real short end of the stick and now Gen Z and future generations are going to need to start asking the questions of like, is this investment worth it in the long run? So we said few, there’s few of us, because there are degrees that absolutely need-

that that are necessary. You have doctors, biologists, lawyers, et cetera. Like, you have to have the knowledge and, you know, the academic pedigree to understand how to operate on a brain, right? Duh. The, when it comes to, I guess the rub here is when it comes to like technical office dorks, like, does it even matter?

Isn’t most of what we do in corporate America, just like sales and relationship building more or less, basically? Yes. Isn’t that really all we do all day, no matter what role you’re in. And yes, so that’s the business insider article. Between 2017 and 2019 employers cut degree requirements for 46% of middle skill and 31% of high skill jobs, which have been most pronounced in the finance business management, engineering and healthcare occupations.

So that’s 2017 to 2019. That’s 5 years ago this started happening. This is not even new. And finance. Like, these are like finance, you know. So IBM, Accenture, Bank of America, Google, all examples of companies with more and more, like every year, more and more job openings no longer require degrees. Now your question is, James and Jeff, how do people learn these technical skills?

Well, if you do a cursory search on any certification, you can use your Google machine and guess what, Google will forge you two Google certifications. They’re doing all of this online. They have a built in monetized infrastructure for adult learning in very specific competencies. Cyber Security, Data Analytics, Project Management, the list goes on and on and on. Google it, you can find it.

Our sister company ThriveDX does this exact same thing in Cyber. And newsflash, this is interesting, big brand, prestigious universities. I’m not talking, like, I’m talking top 100 universities, public universities in the US are backing these certifications. So my question is, how long does the university system adopt the more targeted training approach and continually learn how to monetize it?

Like, at least in that model, the skills will be targeted knowledge and not like, you know, a deep understanding of the political climate of the Roman Empire. Interesting. How relevant? So anyway, the too long didn’t read. It’s office based technical skills should be kind of more in line with trade based, you know, trade based skills acquisition, right?

You think about apprentice models in the trade. Why aren’t we doing that in like white collar corporate America? White collar is the new blue collar. That’s ultimately what’s happening here. It’s going to happen. So anyways. Trademark. Yeah, I just made that up on the spot. All right, let’s go to the last one.

So while all that’s happening. The last one’s AI. And here’s the thing, I’m not an AI hater, but I’m an AI hype hater, if that makes sense. Like, people need to recognize that this is not remotely new. Google has been using AI and its algos, so have the social media companies, for decades now. Decades. The difference now is it’s more commercially available for everyday use.

Like, once ChatGPT realized, like, you can put, like, you can license that stuff, people realize now you can kind of create your own. I do not believe that AI is going to outright replace very many jobs, not-

like, I do not think this is, there’s a lot of tinfoil hat people that think like the world’s going to end.

But what I do think is that technology has always made some jobs far more efficient over time, allowing people to stop doing the boring stuff and just be more productive, focusing on the important stuff that’s core, fundamental, and strategic to the job, allowing them to ultimately do more. Yep, just a quick example in sales, Zoom. Zoom lets us do more meetings face to face.

We can see our customers and our sellers. Mail Merge lets us blast out more emails, Eventbrite lets us better manage events. The point here is a sale didn’t, sale people didn’t go away, they were just enabled to do more. And so what AI has done here, is take the rate of change in technical innovation to, you know, what we preface before, which just this exponentially faster level.

Yeah. So how this relates to younger people, in the younger generation more specifically, some of these more mundane things that AI can replace or things like typically you have your junior staff focusing on. So your interns and maybe your people who are first a year or two out of school, they do a lot of the boring stuff for you as like they’re learning it, but you might not need that in the near future here, or at least you’ll need less and less of that over time.

And secondly, like, if you’re in that person’s shoes, and you haven’t yet learned what is truly strategic and core to a role versus what’s tactical and arguably more likely to be replaced, like, how do you know what to focus on? You could, I mean, I can see worlds where you easily walk into a dead end job, not even realizing it because like you took on something that instead of knowing what’s more strategic and what couldn’t possibly go away, you just willingly walk into something that does get replaced. Exactly. And you’re none the wiser because you don’t have the experience.

Finally, you know, as it relates to the job hunt, but there’s a lot of chatter surrounding, you know, again, the rapid adoption of AI specific to hiring. I saw a report, and when we were prepping, I freaked out about it, like SHRM found that 64% of companies were using AI or other forms of automation to review or screen applicant resumes. The scary beast in the sky, right?

And I was so annoyed. You laugh and you were laughing at me then too. Now we don’t know what these respondents were classifying as AI, but I, if I’m going to infer, it’s that, you know, the tech is being used to review and screen in and out, you know, applicant resumes. And the statement is in my opinion, categorically misleading. It’s-

the great machine in the sky is not tossing bad apples. Like, you know, the machine throwing one with a dent in and one out, like it’s not real. The keyword search AI algorithm thing isn’t real. Stop listening to it. The issue is that candidates and the employers who aren’t super recruiter savvy think it’s real and that it’s going to lead to a greater resilience on filling open roles with less human interaction, which goes right back to your point from before.

Like, this is-

these things just enable actual humans to do the job better. It’s a very bad idea to think that a machine is going to be able to fill jobs in the near or distant future. Yeah. Takeaways. There’s no real takeaways. Honestly, I think it’s just, it’s something to keep in mind if you’re hiring more junior people planning your workforce, or if you yourself are younger and trying to get your career started, got a lot on your plate, got a lot in front of you.

But I think it’s important to at least kind of know what these challenges are, that way you don’t walk into something. So, anyways. Yeah, we feel for you. I promise. We are short on clock. We’re over. So I said 15, we’re over 17. That’s a wrap for this week. Thanks for tuning into the 10 Minute Talent Rant, part of the Talent Insight Series, which is always available for replay on talentinsights.hirewell.com. As well as YouTube, Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, and Amazon. Jeff, thanks again, as always. Everyone out there, we will see you soon.

 

 

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