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Gen Y’s Comparative Advantage Over Mid-Career Professionals

Over the years I’ve counseled hundreds of mid-career professionals, and I’ve seen first-hand that great experience is only one component of a successful career. The business world has changed more in the past 15 years than at any other time in history, and older generations at work during this period have been forced to adapt or become obsolete.

In contrast, Gen Y’s often feel handicapped by their lack of experience and wish they had the resume of someone more seasoned. But the truth is that Gen Y’s are better at taking advantage of many of the opportunities that more senior professionals fail to tap. And being younger means you need to worry less about not knowing everything, which frees you up to ask all the right questions.

Here are a few areas where youth rules in the job market:

Networking Online and Offline

Senior people in busy jobs are notoriously bad at networking. Despite all the advice to network when you have a job, it is tough for those with busy jobs and families to put time into networking with others because as they see it, it is a waste of time if it doesn’t serve a specific end.

Gen Y’s, on the other hand, understand social networking intuitively and love to connect with others throughout the day—both in and out of a work setting. So when they are looking for a new job or information on something, they have an automatic network to consult.

Blogging to Leverage Their Careers

One great way to get the attention of industry pros is to blog about a specific sector. If you do it well, and you’re provocative, smart and good at SEO, you may be contacted by interested companies. And if not, you have a portfolio of writing and opinion ready to take to an interview.

Blogging to share an interest you have and get a conversation going comes much more naturally to younger people. Although those with experience could more easily create a compelling body of research and opinion about a sector they know well, chances are they won’t do it.

Seeking Advice from Mentors

When you’re new or relatively new to the workforce it’s a lot easier to ask people for advice, especially if you do it in the right way (specifically, with a message that the meeting will require just 20 minutes of someone’s time). It could even tie into an article you’re writing (for your blog, etc.), to make it more business-focused.

Older generations have a natural desire to help up-and-coming professionals in the industry and share their knowledge and years of experience. Don’t underestimate the power of the legacy factor—successful people are interested in mentoring people who remind them of their younger selves and appear to have potential. Especially if those Gen Y’s have good ideas for solving problems or creating new opportunities.

It’s clear: youth and inexperience don’t need to be an obstacle in the workplace. Being younger has clear strengths, and young workers should derive confidence from these advantages.


Allison Cheston is a New York City-based career advisor. Cheston holds a BA from the University of Michigan in International Relations & Romance Languages, and an MA in International Education and a Certificate in Adult Career Planning from New York University. She is also the NY Career Change Examiner.

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  1. House5106

    I think you missed some obvious points.
    1. You’re salary expectations are lower
    2. You are likely unencumbered by family.
    3. You’re more youthful, more attractive.
    4. Your health insurance cost is likely less.

    • Inner Voice

      My thoughts exactly. These outweigh the factors in this article dramatically in our current work environment. Just ask all the 50-somethings laid off so that the company could hire a new college grad.

      So while I think it is a good idea to encourage the Gen Y’ers in a difficult market, this article should have included something on the realities of the 4 factors you list.

  2. I agree that blogging is a great way to network and show off some of your skills when looking for a job. I created a blog when I started my job search in December last year and whilst it isn’t specifically about my career (it includes my hobbies and interests as well) I believe it is important to have original content that you can point to that demonstrates your expertise.

  3. carrie

    Okay your generation Y opinions is truly funny. I have worked with them in Advertising and in Technology if you are dealing Gen Y BRAT they are the most ungrateful and unproductive individuals in the workplace. However your polyanna point of view needs some work. Plus because of the lack of work “shorter work day” is my case in point!!!! Sorry

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