jobs for X-Gens

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jobs for X-Gens

Postby Val » Thu Feb 17, 2005 7:29 pm

Recruiters "tell you there's room for growth, all those great things . . . but the caveat they forget to add is that it will take you 10 years to get anywhere," Ms. Buahene said. Younger employees get incredibly anxious if they feel their jobs are not leading anywhere and their skills are not being developed, she said.

There are no more jobs for life. Young employees (X-Gen and younger) are expected to move on every 3 or so years. And as is said above, it takes 10 years to grow into a fully-skilled specialist. Young employees realise that by the end of their 3-year employment, they have to have developed the skills for which the next employer will want to hire them. So their anxiety is understandable.

My question to the auditorium: why would the modern employer want to hire a younger employee knowing that he does not have all the skills to do the job competently ? Hiring a younger inexperienced employee would make a sense if the employee stayed for life with the company, but othervise the employer train such a younger employee for some other company.

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jobs for X-Gens

Postby Lora » Thu Feb 17, 2005 8:29 pm

One word: money.

Young, inexperienced workers are cheap. Cheap, cheap cheap. They will work for peanuts.

The rationale that my ex-bosses used was this: Everything they do has to be written as a highly detailed protocol anyway, per regulations. They can hire one or two moderately experienced people to do this part, people who are probably not highly skilled but deal well with steep learning curves. For the remainder, they can hire a bunch of bright technicians. This, at least, was the R&D directors' idea.

There is another motivating factor for not hiring the best and brightest in any field: you don't want to hire your replacement, do you? If you hire someone at the top of their game, who is extremely smart and experienced, you're essentially hiring your replacement or your future boss. It's not in your interest to participate in your own demise. Remember also, a young turk in a new position is not going to ask for things like family time off, occasional afternoon golf games or 40-hour workweeks--things that older, more experienced workers tend to take for granted.

It's very political. One of my engineering friends commented that everywhere he'd been, scientists were all astoundingly bad at office politics. I think this is broadly true, although undoubtedly Dave could beat us all at the human chess game of management manipulation.

jobs for X-Gens

Postby Doug » Fri Feb 18, 2005 9:18 am

Ideally, Lora, I think you DO want to hire your own replacement. In the long run, hiring marginally qualified individuals for a position can only reduce productivity. On the other hand, hiring overqualified people can quickly lead to boredom. When I used to make hiring decisions, I looked for the brightest people I could find who could clearly grow into a position. I think a middle ground is ideal: most of the skills needed for a position, but not all of them. Plus, it seems that most technicians aren't going to be around for very long, by design: they tend to be recent graduates who are taking a year or so off before continuing their education.

jobs for X-Gens

Postby Emil Chuck » Fri Feb 18, 2005 9:39 am

I'm actually glad there are no jobs "for life". Rather I should restate that: there are few (perhaps law and medicine are the last vestiges, though neither of them bring guarantees). It would be like saying we all have to live with the computer or cell phone we bought when we were 18 years old. One must be able to upgrade skills and be flexible quickly in whatever job area one is in, and I look at my career developing in three year blocks all the time (I'm at the end of my current block). It's not a bad thing to have a strategic plan that is 3-years long.

Maybe most people don't appreciate that you can have the job security of laying down railroad tracks or working in a steel mill for 50 years, but I don't know if we as a population of relatively higher educated persons would be happy with that. (Not to say that the people who do that job for a long time are not appreciated.)

I think when it comes to employers it depends on what they want. Certainly an element of instilling in that potential worker a sense of company loyalty would be one thing, so offering a person an opportunity to develop the skills he/she needs to fill the role would be in the best interest of the company. Likewise, doing whatever it takes to develop that person into more fulfilling and important responsible roles should be a plus since it is an investment in the employee (and costs less than doing an outside search all the time). Sure, money has something to do with it, but it's more productivity than just cheap labor.

Sometimes it's about the attitude and ambition of the person, which you cannot completely ascertain from a resume (one could from a CV). More likely it's about how good a fit that person would be in the workgroup.

Of course, it can also be said, for whatever reason academia tends to have a reverse model of workplace economics. Apparently there is less supervision (i.e., more independence) but also fewer opportunities for people to succeed unless you really seek them. In many places, you are even kicked out the door than be promoted because you are "successful." It is a very odd thing because it makes no sense to invest so much in someone only to let that person go take his/her skills and research program to "greener pastures." (Okay, I think I just melded this discussion into the economics of science discussion.)
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jobs for X-Gens

Postby John_Mastro » Fri Feb 18, 2005 6:59 pm

The job of the X-Gens is to pay for the 30 yr retirement social security payments of the baby boomers. As a baby boomer I wish to thank you x-gens.

jobs for X-Gens

Postby Val » Sat Feb 19, 2005 7:24 am

Doug wrote:

Ideally, Lora, I think you DO want to hire your own replacement

I used to conceive bright ideas and hid them from my co-workers because I was afraid they would steal them. I used to withhold information from my junior collaborators because I was afraid they would learn how to do the work and I would be made redundant.

I do not do this any more. My older colleague taught me that one has to have a strong motivation to bring even a very promising idea into a working proto-type device. Only the person who conceived it has enough of drive to get through all the hurdles on the way of implemantation of device. Nowdays I share with my colleagues my ideas about the improving the research in the current project, and it is my experience that they leave the implementation to me, but recognising my superior intellect.

Nowdays I teach my junior colleagues everything what I know and let them to use my resources. It always turns out that they are incapable to learn everything, and thus they do not constitute the threat to me that I will be replaced by them. However, they are grateful to me that I am teaching them and involving them into activity, so that they enthusiastically do some work for me -- on the whole, MY project advances. If you do not teach your replacement, then the administration will not be able to promote you up from your present position.


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Postby John Fetzer » Sat Feb 19, 2005 1:00 pm

It really has not changed as radically as these posts or lore makes it seem.

My research advisor was a big-name and had been at places like Stanford and MIT. I was his seventieth-something PhD. He emphasized that in the sciences you must completely change your own job every five to ten years. The science advances too fast and you get obsolete. Even in the days of lifetime jobs with one company, the successful people had to do this in order to advance. If you did not, you got pigeon-holed as a dull, average scientist who was not give any challenges, only the drudge work that still had to be done.

Now the model just says that as you keep reinventing yourself, you keep looking out for yourself first. No hiding in the false security of an established job. You have to job search and network in an on-going fashion as insurance and to ensure a dynamic career.

AS far as gaining expertise. It is not the ten year timeframe mentioned. You all gained a lot in three or four actual years of graduate research (the period after taking classes and the other beginning stuff). It really takes only a couple of years at most for a talented scientist to be proficient. If you are at it for five years or so, you can be a world-class expert.

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jobs for X-Gens

Postby Carlysle Tancha » Sat Feb 19, 2005 2:05 pm

Yes, John-- for everyone, there is a great book:
"Only the Paranoid Survive" I think that it might be a good read to show people that you need to continue updating yourself and not get too comfortable.
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