Had lunch with a frustrated exec this week I’ve known for years. He has hired new college grads for years, has seen the process through the past three decades and is concerned that today’s grads don’t know how to work.
I frowned at such a broad blanket statement and he agreed that it’s not true of every new grad, but that overall he has seen a shift, a decline in the willingness to roll up the sleeves and work. Interestingly, he blames me, or at least my generation of Baby Boomers, the MeGen that spent the last 30 years pursuing the easiest paths to success. And for better or worse, we succeeded.
We had a good time and thought we were doing right by pursuing success through a ‘whatever it takes’ approach, but the outcome is not so good for our current economic situation and worse for what we have taught or not taught the next generation.
Focusing on new grads, the executive explained that it is not surprising when a new grad in need of work interviews with demands concerning work hours, limited travel and holidays. Of course this can’t be you as you read this, but you may know someone who fits the description and they are giving a large group a bad name. In order to climb out of our current economic mess, a number of things need to happen, but maybe the most important is that as a society we get back to the value of good old hard work. And it needs to become imperative for new college grads.
So if you need to find work, prove you understand and appreciate the value of a hard days work and companies will line up to hire you.
So how to prove the point?
I know a very successful heart surgeon today who took one summer away from medical school in the early 70s to come to west Texas to work cattle. The work was hard and dirty where he literally shoveled sh*t. Today he claims that he learned the value of work that summer and established a foundation that has affected him for the good every working day of his life. Maybe the better your education you should go out of your way to spend a few months doing the dirtiest job. You will learn work value, how to gain respect and the reward of a job – any job well done. No matter what you do, a heart surgeon, a developer or a salesman, the experience will make you a better person and employee. At the very least, you will have a good appreciation for the work you do.
If I were in charge, everyone would spend time learning the value of hard work… manual labor, retail, fast food – don’t care where, I just understand the foundation it builds and, as I have throughout my career, will continue to make understanding hard work through actual experience a prerequisite for hiring.
Can’t find a job doing this kind of work? Don’t have the time? Bull…There is plenty that needs to be done in your town, your neighborhood, your Church or at the local library. Volunteer, no one said you had to be paid to get value out of hard work. The experience and the work references alone will put you ahead of the rest.
Want a job, a career? Learn how to work first!
Hank Stringer is a member of the Glassdoor.com, Clearview Collection and CEO of Stringer Executive Search and Chief Strategist to Novotus – a professional recruiting agency. In 2006 he co-authored Talent Force: A New Manifesto for the Human Side of Business” (Prentice-Hall. 2006) with fellow Clearview contributor Rusty Rueff. Hank’s experience includes founding Hire.com, an early Internet recruitment solution acquired by Authoria in 2005. He has also served as a senior recruiter for Dell Inc. and Tandem Computers.