Young Workers Changing Jobs During The Great Resignation
When you were in high school fantasizing about your future career, my guess is you didn’t see yourself working long hours doing the most mundane tasks for a boss who dismisses your ideas at every turn. And I’m pretty sure you didn’t imagine working for an organization that doesn’t align with your values, working on projects with unsupportive co-workers. Now maybe your fantasies center on changing jobs instead.
Yet this is the experience for so many young people, which is why movements like the Great Resignation don’t surprise anyone who has been in the working world for longer than a year or two. In fact, according to Pew Research Center, 37% of young adults left their jobs in 2021 compared to 17% of adults between the ages of 30-49.
The study also showed that the majority of those who quit their jobs are currently employed and report earning more money and having more opportunities for advancement, but 24% said they earn less money and 16% say they have fewer opportunities for advancement. While most people seem to be happier in their new positions, there are still a lot of young people who are struggling to find their footing in the workforce.
The Following Are The More Nuanced Reasons Young People Quit Their Jobs In 2021:
1. The Job Changed When It Became Remote
For many young people, especially those who live alone, going into the office everyday and working with their colleagues and managers was critical to their career advancement. When you’re young and new to the workforce the relationship you have with your manager and the experience and knowledge you learn from your older colleagues is invaluable.
In addition to not having that in-person support, many young people realized without all the perks of the job like free lunch, the gym, and ping-pong tables, they didn’t feel engaged in the day-to-day tasks, and they realized that if their organization was going to stay remote or hybrid, they didn’t feel their role was making an impact.
2. They Started The Job Remotely And It Never Felt “Right”
In the past two years, many young people graduated from high school or college only to start their first job remotely. At first they thought this was going to be temporary, like so many of us did, but now the writing’s on the wall: remote and hybrid work are here to stay.
Managers are learning that they need to change their leadership style if they’re going to be effective leaders, but it’s a slow process. It may take years for an organization to find the right balance of remote and in-person work. The problem for young people is many of them started their careers remotely and no matter how many off-site get togethers they attend, they don’t feel connected to their colleagues or they aren’t getting what they need from their managers.
3. They Decided To Pursue Their Own Career Path
Many young people took this opportunity to forge their own career paths. While some may be trying to be a TikTok star or Instagram influencer, young people who had been working for other people for a couple of years decided to monetize a hobby or build something on their own.
Feeling unhappy at work as well in your personal life may indicate you’re going through a quarter-life crisis. A quarter-life crisis comes about when you realize the choices you’ve made are not turning out as expected and you don’t know how to fix the problem. It’s the feeling of not being true to who you are, but you’re not quite sure who you’re supposed to be either. When going through a crisis the best thing to do is not to make any decisions and start figuring out how you got to where you are today and start thinking about what is working and what isn’t working in your life.
If you’re a young person who’s currently employed and you feel like you don’t know what you want to do with your career, concentrate on the four F’s.
Changing Jobs: The Four F’s
1. Forget The Job Title
Stop focusing on the job title and the salary. While both of these are important and fancy job titles might impress someone at a cocktail party, work is what you do day in and day out. It’s the tasks you do every single day, it’s the kind of people you interact with and how much or how little you interact with people and it’s whether or not you find your work meaningful and engaging for you.
2. Focus On What You Know For Sure About The Job
Finding work that’s meaningful and engaging to you is a process. There are some people who know exactly what they want to do very early but those people are the exception. The majority of people need to try out different industries and roles to find what’s right for them.
No matter how long you’ve been in the workforce, you know what kinds of projects, tasks, managers, and environments work best for you. Think about your jobs in high school or internships in college and reflect back on when you felt inspired and excited and when you felt disheartened and bored.
These are your clues to what is the right kind of career for you when you’re changing jobs. When you’re unhappy at work and desperate to leave it’s easy to convince yourself to take a job just like the one you have. Maybe it pays a little better and there is more flexibility but the excitement of those things will wear off pretty quickly and you’ll realize you’re right back where you started.
Get a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On one side write “what I like” and on the other side write “what I don’t like” and fill it out. Keep the list near you so you can add to it every day. When you interview for new jobs, keep that list with you and make sure there are going to be more of the things you like vs. dislike.
3. Keep Asking Yourself, “How Do I Feel?”
Therapists aren’t the only people who ask the question, “How do you feel about that?” Asking yourself on a regular basis how you feel is vital to your mental and emotional health. It helps you create greater awareness of yourself and it allows you to make choices that align with your values and you can be more proactive and less reactive to the events of your life.
When you’re young making choices is overwhelming, especially when it comes to your career. On the one hand you have your whole life ahead of you so there are so many different options. And at the same time because you’re young you don’t have as much job or life experience, which means you don’t know which options are right for you.
As you think about what kind of career is right for you, continue to check in with yourself. When you have a job interview, take a few moments afterwards and see how you feel. Did the interviewer seem excited about working at this company? Did the role check more boxes in the “like” column? Do you feel inspired to keep interviewing or do you feel like something isn’t quite right?
4. Move Forward With Confidence When Changing Jobs
One of the biggest reasons people aren’t changing jobs? It’s hard. It’s like having a second job. There is a lot of disappointment. The list can go on and on. While making any kind of job change is challenging, having a job that doesn’t give you the “Sunday scaries” is worth the effort.
This is why you need to continue to move forward with confidence – confidence that you’ll find the next right job. Confidence that if you continue to focus on the tasks you enjoy and the type of environments in which you thrive, you’ll end up in a better place.
This is why building your confidence muscle is so important. Confidence isn’t a personality trait, it’s not something you’re born with, it’s a belief that develops over time which means you want to be exercising your confidence muscle as much as possible. Just like the muscles in your body, if you don’t exercise this muscle, it becomes flabby and out of shape. Yet if you focus on your confidence muscle every day, even in the smallest ways, you’ll start to notice your confidence muscles getting bigger and stronger.
Create a plan for yourself on how you’re going to structure your search for your dream job. Start by blocking out one hour every day to work on your job hunt. The best time would be first thing in the morning but what’s most important is you honor that time and stick to it. Think of it like an appointment with yourself to create a better life.
You have so many years ahead of you which means you’re going to be working for a long time. This is a good thing, it means you get to have lots of different careers if you want. You can even pivot into another profession. Don’t think you don’t have the time to make changes. What you don’t have the time for is sitting in an office, doing a job you hate, for people you don’t like and never betting on yourself. You’re worth it.
Resources for 20-Somethings
How to Find Your Path in Your 20s (without Losing Your Sanity)
There Are Some Fears You Shouldn’t Run From
How to Stay Productive When Working Remotely
The Key to Being a Great Virtual Leader is Empathy
The Art of Asking Questions: How to Ask Questions That Connect Idea and Drive Deeper Insight
Having Friends at Work Can Boost Happiness for Young People
Signs You’re Having a Quarter-Life Crisis and What to Do About It
Everything You Need to Know About Your Impending Career Crisis
How to Build Your Confidence and Quiet the Drill Sergeant in Your Head