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Alicia Blain

Career


I think we do and we need to do it fast. In my last blog post I talked about how so many people have been approaching me lately about how unhappy they are in their corporate jobs.  I think the economic woes we’re facing are making people cautious about leaving a steady paycheck but at the same time, it’s highlighting just how pervasive poor leadership is within the corporate ranks.  When times were better, people had more career options and would leave a company when they got tired of its poor leadership. Today, they can’t and it’s putting a spotlight on just how de-moralizing poor leadership can be to a team.

Although leaders know they have the upper hand in this economy, they have to always remember that it won’t be like that forever. If they are lousy bosses, their employees know it and so does everyone else.

It’s not hard to re-imagine leadership so that you have happy employees. Any good leader will tell you that employees don’t want much – they want work that is fulfilling and they want to be respected and acknowledged for their contributions.  That’s it.  The problem is that many of us who have led for a number of years are sticking to some pretty outdated ways of leading that prevent our employees from getting those 2 simple things they want most.

So here are 3 things today’s hip and savvy leaders are doing to re-imagine how they lead in the 21st Century.

  1. They ask for advice.  Savvy leaders know that the days when they had all the answers are long gone.  Today, the employees in the trenches know more about what’s going on than they do.  After all, how current can you be when you’re stuck in meetings all day and most of your job requires you to ensure your team’s compliance with those countless regulations and policies required under HIPAA, SOX, MOUSE (just kidding).  Getting your team involved and listening to their ideas is instrumental for successful leaders in the future.
  2. They are willing to bend the rules. Let’s face it, the only way we are going to shed our old leadership comfort zones are to experiment with new ones. The only way to do that is if we bend the rules of how the game is played.  Now I’m certainly not advocating we go and break corporate rules and get ourselves into trouble.  I’m talking about breaking the rules we’ve used from the past to lead in the future. So for example, just because something hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. Just because our best practices don’t align with the new idea being considered doesn’t mean we shouldn’t test the “best” practice to see if                 something better should replace it.  Bend the rules and test the “what-ifs”.  Those  “what-ifs” are the secret to staying viable in the future.
  3. They learn. If you aren’t open to learning new things every day you will not make it as a leader in the 21st Century.  The pace of change is grueling and it’s constantly challenging what we know on any given day.  If you want to sit on your laurels and reap the benefits of the expertise you’ve developed in the past, you will become the poster child for poor leadership.  You need to be in constant learning mode to hold the privilege of leading a team going forward.  By your example, your team will know that they need to stay sharp and keep their skills up to date. And here’s a secret:  you know those pesky 20-somethings that drive you crazy?  They are a GREAT resource for you to keep you learning and to stay relevant with what is happening in the world today.

So how about it? Do you want to just take up space until you reach retirement or do you want to make a difference to the generations of up and coming leaders that are watching you for clues on how to be the best of the best? It’s your choice.  If we are to re-imagine what leadership is going to be in the 21st Century, it starts with us – the leaders that have the courage to be different, be bold and willing to shed the past to make room for the future.

Since I left corporate to start my business a few years ago, I’ve had a steady stream of inquiries from friends and colleagues about getting out of corporate. For some reason, over the last few months, those inquiries have increased significantly.  Now these are bright, talented individuals making very decent incomes who are absolutely miserable and disgusted with corporate life.  I point that out because many times people think it’s just the 20-somethings that are complaining about corporate life. No, folks.  It’s not just the Gen Yers – it’s Xers and lots of Boomers doing the complaining.

In every case , without exception, when I dig a little bit to find out what is at the root of the unhappiness, it turns out to be poor leadership.  There are many reasons given.  Here’s the top 10 list of complaints:

  1. My boss has no clue what’s going on in the team.
  2. My boss is a very good [fill in the expertise – salesperson, accountant, lawyer] but he’s a lousy manager.
  3. My boss doesn’t stick up for us and caves in to the demands of other departments or higher ups.
  4. The staff isn’t getting a raise but the higher ups are getting outrageous bonuses this year.
  5. My boss is so afraid of losing her job that she refuses to listen to new ideas we’ve presented that can help the team.
  6. My boss listens to people who are out of touch with the realities of what the team faces.
  7. My boss is not well respected by the higher ups or his colleagues and is ineffective.
  8. My boss is just holding on long enough to get retirement.
  9. My boss has a sink or swim mentality.
  10. My boss has no time for his employees.

Any of these ring a bell?  Which ones resonate the most with you?  What complaint isn’t on there that you feel strongly about? For me, the ones that would put me over the edge were #1, 3, 5 and 7.

After listening to so many people repeat these reasons over and over again, I wondered how so many leaders could be so clueless about how their employees felt? I realize that employees aren’t going to volunteer that information to their boss even if he or she asks. I also know that employees aren’t always forthcoming in giving that information on employee engagement surveys no matter how much the company tries to convince them their answers are “confidential”.

So I decided to post the top 10 complaints here in the hopes that leaders would read them and ask themselves 3 probing questions.

  1. Who is someone inside or outside the company that I trust that can give me an honest assessment of how I am perceived as a leader?  We all know people in our careers that are honest, trustworthy and discreet that can help us answer whether our perception of how we lead matches how others see us lead.  The answer might surprise you.
  2. Do any of these complaints describe my peers or bosses? Can any of them remotely describe me? Many times if you can spot these behaviors in others around you, it makes you stop and reflect on your own and causes you to take some time to be introspective.
  3. What is one thing I can do today to ensure that my perception of how I lead is aligned to how others see me as a leader?

Of course, to answer these questions truthfully require you, as a leader, to be objective about yourself.  But more importantly, it requires you to still CARE about being an effective leader. From the sounds of the heightened grumblings I’m hearing lately, that may be the missing ingredient.

So my question for you is: are you one of the leaders described in this Top 10 list?  What are you doing to make sure you’re not?

I came across this great blog written by a Gen Yer called Derek Singleton titled “How Manufacturing can Attract Young Talent Again“.  He is an ERP Analyst for a company called Software Advice and he covers the manufacturing software market.  In the blog he ponders why he never thought to choose a career in manufacturing.  He realizes that there are many reasons why young professionals like himself would never think of it either.  Things like not having popular role models in manufacturing. Can you think of even one person in manufacturing that you’ve heard of?   For that matter, when was the last time we heard a positive story about manufacturing?  All we hear about are plant closings and how the factories are being moved overseas.

Derek goes on to explain why it’s important to pursue manufacturing careers and his points are well taken.  What I liked best is that Derek had some suggestions to making  manufacturing cool again to attract Gen Yers.  Take gamification for instance.  Did you know that there are 3D games that show new hires (aka Gen Yers) how to operate oil refinery equipment? Or that there’s a game called Plantville which is similar to Farmville designed to teach manufacturing processes and technologies to new hires?  Companies like Invensys and Siemens have been investing their money in the gamification of manufacturing.  How cool is that?

Derek also had a great idea about having manufacturing summer camps!  Isn’t that great?  What about restoring shop classes back in high school?  The point is that you can’t expect young people to get excited about a career in an industry they have no exposure to or is not perceived in a good light.

It’s by attracting young talent that manufacturing can get a facelift and perhaps become cool again.  Derek’s blog reminded me of several blogs I’ve written this past year on a similar vein. Last year, I wrote about Kristine Harper who followed her father’s footsteps and choose a career in mainframes.  Yes, that’s right – mainframes.  She started an IBM Share user group called “zNextGen There are over 700 engineers, all of them Millennials, that are “looking to improve mainframe technology skills and find places to use them.” 

The manufacturing sector needs a Kristine Harper to jumpstart change, make it cool again and get Gen Yers excited about being a part of the change.  The Armed Forces is another example.  I’ve blogged several times about how different groups within the Armed Forces are using gamification to attract Gen Yers.

But first, Gen Yers have to know the industry exists in the first place.  They have to be exposed to it, hear about it, learn about it, see role models in manufacturing that are making a difference, that are making change.

What do you think?  Do you like Derek’s ideas on making manufacturing cool?  Do you think it will atract Gen Yers? What ideas do you have to make it cool? Or do you think it’s too late? I hope not.  Because if there’s an industry that needs the creativity, fresh blood and curiosity of Gen Yers, it’s manufacturing.  Here’s to making “Shop” cool again…

 

Yesterday I was reading an article that referenced a survey conducted by Mercer  indicating that over 30% of employees are disillusioned and disengaged at work . For Gen Yers on the job, the number increases to over 40%.

The interviews I held with Gen Yers this past year validates the results of the Mercer survey.  In fact, I found that over 80% of the Gen Yers I interviewed had already left an unsatisfying job or were aggressively looking to leave.

But here’s what I find most baffling.  As I work with business leaders who want to get the most out of their Millennial staff, I find there is no desire on their part to change their way of leading or try something different.  A surprisingly large group of business leaders still believe that the Millennials are the ones who are going to have to adapt to the way organizations work.   I find that so many leaders are disillusioned themselves and are just plain tired of the corporate grind.  They have no desire or incentive to try something different, to capture the minds & talent of their Gen Y staff. Many of them have gone as far as to tell me that they are absolutely NOT going to “rock the boat”.  They are desperately holding on, keeping things the same until they can retire.

I find that to be sad and troubling.  By 2014, it is estimated that 50% of the workforce will be made up of Gen Yers yet they will be reporting to bosses who are holding on to the status quo and are not that motivated to engage & retain their young staff.  Many of them turn a deaf ear when it comes to understanding why Gen Yers are unfamiliar to them as new employees.  And even more interesting than that is that many leaders show a disconnect between how they raised their own Gen Y children and what they expect from them as employees.

Here’s an example. Recently, I was working with a manager who talked constantly about how involved she was in her college children’s lives.  She explained how she researched the universities they attended, talked with the dean and other assorted faculty & staff at the various colleges they were considering and countless other details that showed how involved she was in their selection and in their lives.  She didn’t think anything of her deep involvement in her children’s decisions and the ramifications that would later have.  After all, if someone is THAT involved in making decisions on behalf of her children, how can her children be expected to do things on their own.

While I worked with her, she was constantly receiving texts from her children & responding to them.  She called them often & researched things for them.  So you’d think that someone like that would have a lot of understanding and tolerance for Gen Yers that reported to her.  Not at all.  She constantly complained about how lazy & unmotivated her young staff was.  She was frustrated at how much time she had to “waste” holding their hand through every minor detail of their work.  She was appalled at their work habits but fully expected them to “get with the program” and figure things out themselves.  After all, no one ever showed her how to get things done.  She had to figure it out on her own and so do they.

See the disconnect?  Like my client, many Gen Y parents were and are heavily involved in their children’s lives. But when these parents put on their “leader/manager”  hats at work, they expect Gen Yers to miraculously figure things out on their own.  But how can they when all their lives Gen Yers have had hands-on advisors helping them every step of the way?

Unlike other generations of young workers, Gen Yers have many more employment options than existed in the past.  Many leaders mistakenly believe that with the recession Gen Yers are going to have to conform & “get with the program”.  They may do that temporarily but here’s something you probably don’t know about your Gen Yers that you would if you spent any time trying to get to know them.  Many Gen Yers have side gigs.   I believe Pamela Slim, author of  “Escape from Cubicle Nation” calls them side hustles.  In their spare time, Gen Yers are following their passion, volunteering in non-profits, working part-time at a home-based business.  The more disengaged they are at work, the more effort they’ll put into their side hustles.

They also have options around the companies they work for.  There are many successful companies that have been started by Gen Yers that are attuned to the needs to Gen Yers & are extremely attractive to them. Think Google, Facebook and many in the non-profit world such as Invisible Children.  And we haven’t even talked about the unprecedented access to angel funding & venture capital that is available to someone with an idea, a lot to offer and working for a boss who doesn’t care.

So my advice to leaders out there is this: If you want to attract and keep the best of  Gen Y talent and prepare them to lead effectively in the 21st Century instead of the 20th Century, let go of the status quo and stop holding on until you retire.   We owe it to our children, your young staff to give them the tools they need to be the great leaders of the future.

As I’ve mentioned in many of my recent posts, this past year I had the pleasure of interviewing young professionals who had been working from 1 to 5 years out of college.  Over 80% of them had been unhappy in their first job and had either left it or were looking to leave. But all 100% of them agreed on one thing:  they were not prepared for what to expect once they had the  job.

This is not unusual but it’s a fact that doesn’t get talked about much.  The reality is that college doesn’t prepare you for the world of work.  Going from college to corporate is one of the hardest transitions we all make.  Don’t think it’s a new reality either.  When I graduated from college many, many, many years ago, I almost quit after my first two weeks.  Actually, I wanted to quit after the first week but decided to wait until a got my first paycheck.  I figured it was the least the company could do for having me go through the shock of working in a corporate environment.

As it turns out, I never quit.  The economic situation at the time very much resembled the one today’s college grads are facing.  I had many friends who had not found work and when I told them I was quitting, they told me I was crazy & that I needed to stick it out even if I was miserable.  I listened and I did stick it out. Of course back then, the career or job options available to a 20-something were much more limited than they are today.   There weren’t any internships or contracting work that a young person could take to make a living.  But the truth is it took me a LONG time to get used to the work environment because it wasn’t easy to figure out.

Today’s newest and youngest entrants to the workplace told me the same thing.  In fact, they told me the 5 key areas that shocked them the most about working.  So I made a decision.  I decided to write a series of ebooks to give college grads the upper hand in transitioning from college to corporate.   The first ebook  which comes out this month is called New @ Work: An Insider’s Survival Guide to the Crazy Workplace.  It gives college grads 5  insider secrets about the world of work.  It busts the myths many of us had about the workplace before we worked there.  It’s the 5 that were highlighted by the young people I interviewed this past year.

Let me give you 2 examples of what I mean.

1.  As a college grad, you probably expect that your boss will not only be a good boss to you but that he will be a good leader for the team you work for.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  The likelihood is that he or she won’t be.  The inside scoop that seasoned workers learned the hard way is that there is an overwhelmingly large number of bad bosses in the workplace.  I call them batty bosses and I’ve described some of their characteristics in some of my previous blogs.  In the ebook, I go into each of them and explain why they exist.  I also provide some probing questions you can ask during your job interviews to uncover if you will be working for one.  If you get lucky enough to land a good boss, count your blessings and don’t do anything to jeopardize that relationship.

2.  As a college grad, you probably expect that your workplace will encourage and foster collaboration among employees both in and outside your team.  Maybe. Maybe not.  The insider truth is that collaboration doesn’t always flourish in many of the more established companies and it certainly doesn’t do so at the level that young people today are used to collaborating.  There are a lot of reasons for that which I explain in the book and I give some pointed questions you can ask during your job interview to get a glimpse of how collaborative or not your future employer is.

The point is that as a college grad you should not go blindly into your first job.  The hundreds of thousands of us that have done so either quit our jobs or took a long time to figure it out.  You don’t need to do that. It’s important that you know exactly what to expect.  Instead of being miserable or wasting time trying to make sense of it all, you can be ready for it and concentrate on making a great impression and showcasing your talents and desire to make a difference.

One thing you can do now to get ready:  talk to your friends who have been working for a year or more.  Ask them what surprised them most about work.  Ask them for 1 to 3 tips to prepare you so you can know what to expect.

In the meantime, look out for my ebook announcement and the special offer for the class of 2011.

Most college grads think the way to stand out during a job interview is to be as prepared as possible for the questions employers will ask them during their interviews.  That is partially true.  Job interviews are the first impression you are making to the employer.  Being able to anticipate their questions and answer them well is a strong start to making a good impression.

But do you know there’s another effective way to stand out during your interview?  Here’s an insider secret: The interview process gives you a rare and often unutilized opportunity to put the employer under the microscope by asking them some probing questions.

The questions provide 2 immediate benefits.

1. It Showcases YOU:  Here’s another insider secret: Employers don’t usually expect to get probing questions from young employees. That’s expected from the more experienced candidates who have been working for years and know the “real deal”. The questions will distinguish you from other interviewees in 3 key ways:

         a.  Savviness. You instantly show you are savvy about what goes on inside the corporate walls. It demonstrates you went       above and beyond the normal research and due diligence.

         b. Surprise. Employers already know the typical questions young and inexperienced candidates ask. Time after time, they respond with the same routine, memorized answer. Pointed questions surprise them and make them take notice. It breaks them out of the expected and it’s a way for you to stand out among a sea of other applicants.

         c.  Spunkiness. Employers were once in your shoes and know how uncomfortable it is for a young person to ask tough questions. Most will admire your courage because so few do. It shows spunk and that shows the employer that you are bright and on the ball. It makes them feel confident you’ll get up to speed quickly when hired.

2. Forewarned is Forearmed. Many young employees make the common mistake of focusing all their attention on making a good impression during the interview process. This is an extremely important thing to do, but it isn’t the only thing you should be doing. You need to understand the work environment you will be walking into when you accept the job. Unlike the majority of young employees who start work and are clueless about what they’re getting into, you will know. You won’t waste time being surprised. Instead you can focus  on what you have to do to get on the fast track to advance your career.

Take those tips from my previous blogs and start coming up with a list of questions to ask your employer during the interview.  You might find those questions to be the key ingredient to standing out and going to the front of the line during the selection process.

I know that in today’s challenging economy, college grads are concerned about finding a job.  You are spending a lot of time preparing for your interviews & making sure you are ready to answer the tough questions employers will throw at you so that you can stand out.

Well, guess what?  That’s only half the battle. What steps are you taking during the interview process to determine if your prospective employer is a good fit for you?  Here’s a reality that most college grads are unaware of when they are seeking their first job: over 80% of college grads wind up hating their first job.  That’s a LOT of people that are unhappy.

How do I know that?  I spent the last year, interviewing college grads that were working between 1 and 5 years. Most of them – 80% – said they had either left their first job or were unhappy there and were aggressively looking for another job. When I asked them why they were unhappy they all said the same thing:  we didn’t do our homework on the company hiring us.  Like most of you, these young professionals currently in the workforce did not take the time to really ask the employer some penetrating questions to determine what it would be like to work there.

All of the young people I interviewed said they were just laser focused on getting into a company & starting their career.  They did not focus a lot of attention on asking their employers some penetrating questions.  Whatever questions they asked was to show the employer how much they knew about the company. After they started, they realized what most experienced employees already know.  Finding “a job” is often not the right approach to take even though you may be extremely tempted to do that. 

Most of the young people I interviewed said that taking “a job” had not been a good decision for them.  Many wished they had taken the time to question their prospective employer (and boss)  instead of just trying to be as prepared as possible for the employer’s questions.  Most interviewees felt sure that if they had taken the time to ask better questions they would have either chosen not to take the job or, if they needed to, they would have known ahead of time what they were getting themselves into. 

That’s good advice.  The difference between an inexperienced interviewee and an experienced one is that the experienced one knows that getting “a job” is not the answer.  It’s finding one that’s a good fit for you.  That’s why people that have been working for some time make a list of probing questions to ask during an interview.  They know the importance of putting their prospective boss and employer under the microscope.   

A job search is an exhausting process and not something you necessarily look forward to.  Experienced job seekers don’t want to be in a situation where they look for “a job” and are unhappy and have to look for another one soon after. Being prepared for the interview by asking a series of good questions to determine if there’s a fit is what experienced job seekers do to prevent that situation from happening.

Take your cues from the pros.  Being prepared to answer an employer’s probing question is an important part of getting a job.  Asking the employer your own probing questions is an important part of finding the right fit and wanting to stay on the job.

Here are 3 tips to finding the right fit.  

Tip #1: Take some of the questions I’ve highlighted in my previous blogs as a starting point to preparing your list. 

Tip #2:  Ask your friends & family members who have been working for a few years, what questions they wished they had asked when they interviewed for their first jobs.  Everyone will be more than happy to give you their set of questions. 

Tip #3: Take the questions that have been repeated by most people and add those to your list.  That’s going to give you a huge advantage over other job seekers.  While they are busy finding “a job”, you’re busy finding the “right job” for you .

When we graduate college and start looking for our first job, we rarely think about our relationship with our boss.  After my interviews with young people this past year, many of them indicated that they actually always assumed they’d have bosses who’d mentor them and guide them through their career.

Nothing can be furthest from the truth.  Here’s an insider secret:  As a college grad in your first job, you have a higher chance of working for someone who isn’t a very good mentor nor is interested in becoming one.  Many of today’s managers are overworked, stressed and dealing with their own career issues. They don’t have any time left over to dedicate to their staff. Some managers are simply not mentoring types at all and try to avoid that part of their role.

The good news is that your boss doesn’t have to be the one you turn to for mentoring.  Once you start working you will quickly find out who are the managers in the organization that not only like mentoring but that find the time to do so.  Those are the ones you want to align yourself with and pick one of them as your mentor.

Believe it or not, the interview process provides you with a unique opportunity to ask questions of your prospective boss to see if he or she would be a good mentor and a good fit for your personality.  As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs,  there are a lot of batty bosses out there. All of us have different tolerance levels for the different types that exist.  Wouldn’t it be better to know ahead of time whether you may be working for one or not? Most college grads don’t grab this opportunity because they are focused on making a good impression on the employer.  Although that is very important, it is equally important to ask probing questions as well.

Here are 5 good questions you can ask your prospective boss to determine what type of boss he is. 

1. Give me an example of a famous leader you admire and what are the traits you admire about him or her?

2. Give me an example of someone you’ve mentored in your team and what you liked and didn’t like about it?

3.  How would your employees describe you?

4. What are your top 3 pet peeves?

5.  What are 3 things you enjoy about leading your team and 3 things you don’t enjoy?

From the responses, you’ll get an indication whether your future boss is a good and caring boss. If (s)he is, you hit the jackpot! Count your blessings . Do everything you can to get the job and stay with him for as long as you can. If they don’t, well, welcome to reality. You have to ask yourself these questions:

  • What batty boss type is he? Is it one of the types I can tolerate?
  • If it’s not a tolerable type for me, is the job opportunity worth the aggravation of learning to deal with that type of boss?
  • If so, what steps can I take now to prepare myself to handle this type of boss so I don’t derail my career?

The best way to excel in your first job is to be as prepared as possible so that you are not shocked at the world of work and lose precious time trying to figure it out.  While others are doing that, you will be focusing your effort on creating value and showcasing your skills as a high performer.

You don’t know what you don’t know.  Everybody knows that but what you don’t know can make you miserable later.  That’s what young people working for the past 1 to 5 years told me this last year when I interviewed them.  Over 80% said they just did not do a good job asking prospective employers probing questions to find out what it would be like to work there.

Most of these young people started their jobs right out of college and said they mainly focused on preparing for the questions that employers would ask them.  They admitted that they had  a list of generic questions to ask employers but mainly did so to show the employer that they had done their research about the company. Again to showcase themselves to the employer.

Most young people don’t give a lot of thought to what they are getting themselves into when they accept a job.  After all, the company websites and the on campus meet & greets paint an awesome picture of  what it’s like to be on the inside – an employee – of Company XYZ.  Like everything else in life, there are always two sides to every story.

There is no doubt that working for a company gives you tremendous exposure and great experience as a new entrant into the workforce. There are many benefits to working for a company in your early career. However, there are many things about working that college grads are unaware of and that consequently make them very disillusioned and disheartened once the job offer is accepted.  So much so that 80% of the young people I interviewed had left their jobs, were actively looking to leave or thinking of leaving in the short term. They simply weren’t prepared for the shock of being an employee.

In case you think this is a new phenomenon, it isn’t.  I think you can ask anyone who has been working as an employee and if they can remember back to their early twenties they will tell you how shocked they were when they started working.   I share my own story and tell young people that when I started working in my first job, I came VERY close to quitting after the second week (had to get that paycheck, right?). College simply does not prepare you for the workplace.

The twenty-somethings I interviewed told me that in hindsight they wished they had asked their employers better questions to be better prepared for working there.   Many agreed that given the tight job market they would probably have taken the job regardless of what they discovered.  The big difference that would have made a huge difference as an employee is they wouldn’t have wasted so much time wrapping their heads around the job shock.  Instead they would have been ready and focused on adding value immediately to enhance their employee brand and to stand out.

Here are 2 insider secrets most young people don’t give a lot of thought to but impacts them nonetheless.

1.       You will NEVER work for a perfect company.

2.        All companies have warts and some have more than others. Warts are things that aren’t great about the company but need to be tolerated in order to work there.

During the job interview, you want to gauge what specific brand of warts your prospective employer has because the closer the warts are to things you can tolerate the better your experience will be.

Here are 3 specific questions you can ask to help you get a better idea of their warts. More importantly, it will help you understand the environment you will be working in should you accept the position.

1.    Can you tell me 2 reasons why you work for this company?   What keeps you here?

2.   What are 2 things you wish you could change about the company and why?

3.   What are 3 things people don’t know about working for the company that they should?

Listen very carefully to the responses and jot them down. Your interviewers will not be expecting these types of questions and will most likely not have a pat answer that is not very revealing.  The responses will be more truthful and telling.

Stay tuned next time when I will share more interview questions that Gen Yers on the Job suggest you ask before you accept your first job.

Over this past year I have interviewed many Gen Yers that have been working from one to five years.  Do you know one of the biggest regrets they had?  That they didn’t take the opportunity during an interview to ask employers questions about working there.

Today, you can find countless articles and blogs where Gen Yers talk about their disappointment and disillusionment when they enter the workplace.  All college grads are encouraged to prepare intensely for their interviews with employers.  But what isn’t discussed much is what college grads should be doing to prepare themselves for the SHOCK of working as an employee.

College never prepares you for what corporate life will be.  The marketing messages to college grads on corporate websites paint a rosy picture about working there.  That’s what marketing messages are supposed to do.  But the insider reality of working as a full-time employee is not often as rosy as the marketing hype suggests. There are a lot of things that are not great about the workplace.  Anyone who has worked for any amount of time will tell you that.  But it sure helps a lot when you know upfront what you are getting yourelf into.  That always lessens the SHOCK of the job.

Here’s an inside secret that is not comonly talked about.  All companies have warts (and some have more than others). Warts are things that you, as an employee, have to tolerate. We all tolerate different things; you need to determine if the company has the particular variety of warts you can tolerate.  The way to do that is to come up with a list of questions that you ask prospective employers to get a sense of their particular warts and determine if they are tolerable for you.

In this tight job market, college grads may not have the luxury of picking an employer whose warts are tolerable.  That’s okay.  The Gen Yers I interviewed believed that if they at least had known what to expect, it would have gone a long way to lowering the SHOCK factor in transitioning from their college to workplace experience.  Although it’s important to get a job, what good is it if you are miserable from the start?

 These Wise Gen Ys told me that as interviewees, college grads have a unique opportunity to probe employers and try to understand what it would be like to work there.  Instead, that opportunity is often lost because the focus is to be prepared to answer challenging and probing questions rather than ask them.

If the questions you ask uncover that a particular company’s warts are not in your “tolerance range” but you still need to take the job if it’s offered to you, at least you are going in with a huge advantage in that you know what to expect.  Gen Yers on the job state that not knowing caused them to spend months trying to get over the SHOCK and trying to figure things out.  Knowing ahead of time and not going in blind would have helped them tremendously.

In the next blog I’ll share some of the questions these Wise Gen Ys on the Job wished they had asked during their job interviews…

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