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Stimulating thoughts, Chris. Hard to say what is traditional when all experience is both individual and personal. Having been paperboy, backyard puppet show entrepreneur, blood delivery aide and riverboat mechanic before age 15, I too was early exposed to employment disciplines, while still playing typical sports. But I don't see kids today being pressured either to get summer jobs or to study harder.

Suspect the modern work experience shortfall stems from the new economic realities, since no one has noted any sudden recent rise in student academic achievement results (beyond ubiquitous grade inflation). Digital obsessions today also grossly inhibit the interpersonal skill development only achieved by physical presence, so the lack of face to face workplace interactions may have severe implications down the line. Hard to absorb culture online, for example. Just one opinion, though...

You were a riverboat mechanic? Next you'll be telling us that Jim Brennan is just a 'pen name' and we should address you in the future as Samuel Clemmens.
Guess there's a very fine line between what defines heuristic learning and discovery - and tradition. And maybe that's only in the eye of the beholder.

I suppose we'll still be okay with these evolving changes, although I can't seem to get out of my head the line I read at the bottom of the menu, at the restaurant we went to tonight, "No Substitutions, Please".

If that's the case, now what should we do?

The ancient SS Admiral is gone, along with the kiddy games and photo booth I maintained when not making change for players on the entertainment cruises. Maybe the beginning of my compensation career? Clemens/Twain was never one of my pseudonyms although I have used another.

In the end, we will adapt to the changes as required. Expect that workers will divide into those with interpersonal experience and those without it, just as those with advanced education separate from those without post-secondary schooling, if that. More polarization of the workforce will result, I fear.

Companies complain about lack of soft skills from college grads now. I'm sure we will "muddle" through. Can't help but wonder what management in companies in 20 years will say are the deficiencies of college grads. No doubt it will be a different story.

Thanks for the article Chris!

I believe the largest factor is the "new normal" economy, as you mention. It floods recruiters' inboxes with hundreds of applications for one position, so they need very restrictive selection criteria (I see this more as survival for recruiters, not a flaw) e.g.: entry level jobs (e.g. administrator, receptionist, secretary, clerk, data entry) are asking for 5 years of experience (no joke). Combine that with a labour pool of individuals who have years of experience and the same problem that entry level employees are having i.e. unable to find work at their level. So, they apply for these lower level positions, only reinforcing the idea that jobs like receptionist or data entry need 5+ years experience (because recruiters can get it).

I think there is a "no man's land” between the cohort of those who graduated and went into decent jobs prior to the recession, and the cohort mentioned here who have less pressure to find part-time jobs because of the emphasis on academics and extra curricular activities (which, is my experience, so I agree there is little time left to work - though some still do). I fit into this group of the labour pool, and we graduated in (or probably also around) 2008, just in time for the recession. We have some professional experience, we definitely have the fundamentals of professional life that you’d get from your first job, internship, or co-op term (and then some), we keep getting more education because that is one of the few options left to us that we *hope* will get our resumes seen.* Even this brings its own set-backs (other than debt), as a candidate is as likely to be passed over for being overqualified as they are being under-qualified. I offer my personal experience as some evidence of this (it is below, for those interested).

It is reality though, harsh as it is. I, and my cohort, are not the only ones struggling to find meaningfully work, check the boxes of experience, and have our own education and experience recognized for the value we believe it is - we’ve both noted that there are many working below their qualifications. I don’t think there is an easy solution, on employers’ or employees’ side of things. Sometimes jobs are just about meeting the right person at the right time.

Case Example:
The soft skills are actually my greatest strengths, and they are not easily communicated through ATS-facilitated recruitment; I have an MBA, and six "calendar years" of professional experience across multiple industries. I say "calendar years" because of the work I did outside my paying job that I believe count for more "years" of experience (e.g. being an Executive Director of a non-profit in my mid-twenties). I don’t think my resume has ever made it through ATS screening because interpersonal skills aren’t measured on paper, and because I don’t check enough boxes - my experience is diverse not narrowly concentrated, and entry level jobs are asking for experience (despite an entry level job asking for experience being a good example of an oxymoron). And they can. Because, as you said, there are plenty of "individuals who take jobs that they wouldn’t have considered previously – and sometimes they stay in those jobs.” I’ve also been told by at least half a dozen recruiters that I am overqualified for the jobs I am applying to, so they consider my application a waste of time, assuming I’ll leave for greener pastures within a few months. When I apply one level up, I’m told I am not qualified enough.

To give a rough quantitative illustration: I’ve applied to approximately 200 jobs at various points since starting out in the workforce (post undergraduate degree), and only twice have I got an interview (1:100). In that same time I have had six interviews**, of which three resulted in offers (1:2). I was offered interviews and jobs because I have solid experience, a solid academic background, and I have a lot of the desired soft skills (excellent with people, diligent and keen, approachable and affable) which only come out in-person. Not on paper.

* Sadly, it’s easier to live and acquire debt by being a student than it is to live unchallenged and unfulfilled, working as many hours as possible in minimum wage and doing unpaid internships to get this coveted “5 years experience.” - But that vicious cycle, though related to this, with the impact of the “new economy,” and the prevalence of graduate degrees (especially MBAs) and emphasis on professional designations (rarely a substitute for experience), is a story for another time.

**the other four interviews were through referrals or the “hidden job market” where they knew me, not my resume


As par usual, your timing is excellent. There is a story making rounds that deals with the challenges of having your first job be your first 'real' job. The story deals with interns, in this case, who felt they should launch a petition to change the dress code and were sacked for it. They did not have the experience
necessary to "interpret, provide context, and correctly respond to the social and work situations" they found themselves in.

See http://www.askamanager.org/2016/06/i-was-fired-from-my-internship-for-writing-a-proposal-for-a-more-flexible-dress-code.html

Interesting addition Joe, thanks! I hadn't seen that.

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