Young professionals coming out of undergraduate, graduate and other professional schools are entering the job market at one of the worst points in the last 30 years. Competing against the hundreds of thousands of other Americans who have lost their jobs over the last year, these recent grads are turning not to established businesses for employment, but to themselves.
Young Entrepreneurs Get Savvy
Many financial experts say the best time to start a business is during a recession, when costs are low and innovation is critical. Thus, many 20-somethings are taking the initiative, especially on the Web. "You're going to see a lot more new entrepreneurs," says Jeanne Branthover, managing director of Boyden Global Executive Search. "There are really creative ideas coming out. Those are the good things that happen in a bad time."
The narrowing job market isn't the only thing that might hamper young professionals' careers right now. "This is a generation whose older siblings were in the workforce during the dot-com era, and whose parents may have been the last generation to have held one job with one company for more than 20 years," says Clem Johnson, a partner at Crist Associates, an international executive search firm. “Their attention span is short, loyalties are fleeting, and their expectations are high that they will be challenged and rewarded – sometimes disproportionately relative to their experience. That said, their perception of risk is very different – these are people who expect to have dozens of mini-careers rather than one long career arc.”
"It used to be that you had to get some experience and then start a business," adds Kim Bishop, vice chairman of Slayton Search Partners, who teaches a class at the Learning Annex about making a career change at any age. "But I see young professionals aligning themselves with strong mentors and advisers."