Understanding Future Work Force Trends and Addressing Professional Development Opportunities

by Dorothy Hayden

Our field and the way that we do our jobs 10 years from now will be different from the way we do them today. Last November, I attended a talk by Phil Gardner on recruiting trends. During the talk, Gardner focused on some of the new challenges that employers and career services must address. He notes that employers are less likely to act in an uncertain environment.

Before entering into the information age, employers met potential employees during career fairs and this was likely their only point of contact. Today the search for talent is 24/7 with the advent of ATS, advanced analytics, and social media. For career services, we’ve gone from being the principal provider of information to connectors and consultants (Gardner, 2015). The disruption of innovation is one challenge, but another challenge we must anticipate is the staggering number of retirements that will take place in the next decade by Baby Boomers. Gardner cites a 2010 Pew Research Study saying that about 10,000 Baby Boomers a day will retire. It’s not clear how many Baby Boomers work in career services, but what is clear is that Generation X and Millennials will need to fill the gap in talent. In 2025, the percentage of those born after 1980 will make up around 75 percent of the work force according to Gardner (Gardner, 2015).

You may think that this number seems unreal, but Millennials recently (Quarter 1 of 2015) passed Generation X has the largest population in the workforce (Pew, 2015). With the generational shift, we will need to be adaptive and perceptive to changes in the way that we do our work.

As a millennial, I have been reading about this upcoming generational shift since I was in graduate school. However, I have been challenged to understand how I take the next step in my leadership development. Earlier this month I attended the NACE Management Leadership Institute (MLI) with 65 other career services professionals from around the country. This training challenged my thinking about how I view leadership and it also gave me a bit of a road map for how I can best continue to develop as a leader. Through the MLI, I learned more about the Five Practices for Exemplary Leadership Model developed by Kouzes and Posner in the early 1980s. With this particular leadership model, Posner and Kouzes discuss how we all are leaders but that there are five key leadership practices that exemplary leaders regularly practice in their work. The Five Exemplary Practices are:

  1. Model the way
  2. Inspire a shared vision
  3. Challenge the Process
  4. Enable Others to Act
  5. Encourage the Heart

During MLI, we received the results of a 360 evaluation on each of these areas. We were told during the training that the average age that an adult receives a formal leadership training is 42. Many larger for-profit organizations, are now adding formal leadership training in the first one- to three-years for their recent college hires. It’s highly unlikely that every office that hires new professionals will be able to provide a structured leadership training for their new professionals. I also know that not every institution has the resources to send their mid-level professionals to attend a formal training like MLI. What can we do? How can we help our profession’s new professionals gain competency and increase their capacities as leaders? I don’t believe that there is a simple solution. I also don’t believe that millennials are the only generation that needs to work on leadership development. We all can gain from improving one or more of the five exemplary leadership practices.

I would like to share some ideas (with minimal costs) that we can use to maximize our leadership potential.

  • Identify your personal mission, vision, and values. When we do assessment in our offices, we frequently go back to our office mission and vision statements. The practice of going through and identifying your career mission, vision, and values statements can help you to begin the process of identifying areas of success and growth.
  • Learn more about the Five Practices of Exemplary Leaders: YouTube has a number of videos by Kouzes and Posner on the Five Practices of Exemplary Leaders. I’ve listed a few of the videos that I have enjoyed below, but I would also encourage you to watch videos that focus on different leadership models, ideas, and styles.
  • Be a mentor/mentee. Seek out people who can teach and advise you in your areas of growth. The surprising thing to me about being a mentee is that there is also an opportunity to be a mentor. NACE offers a Mentor Program, but you can also find mentors within your region, state, or school.
  • Develop a professional development plan. A professional development plan can be as simple or complex as you need it to be. The professional development differs from something like the set of annual performance goals that you do, in that no one else but you is evaluating your success. Items you may want to include: Your current vision, mission, and values plus a set of short-term (one to three months) and long-term (six to 18 months) goals that you hope to accomplish. You can also include smaller goals and check points to keep you accountable.
  • Engage on social media. Do you tweet? Do you use LinkedIn? Do you blog? Encourage the new professionals around you to engage with other career services professionals through social media. One of the Exemplary Leadership Practices is, Inspire a Shared Vision. In order to inspire others, we need more people to contribute to the conversation about the present and future in our field.

I know that this is not a complete list. My goal is to share some information about the shift of generations, encourage you to think about your own leadership development, and consider ways to foster leadership potential within your own organization. Please share your ideas for professional development here and feel free to share your ideas on Twitter as well.

Dorothy HaydenDorothy Hayden, Assistant Director, Office of Career Services, Virginia Military Institute
Twitter: @dorothyhayden
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/dorothyhayden

Sources:

Gardner, Phil. “Recruiting Trends 2015-16” Michigan State University: http://livestream.com/msualumni/2015Recruitingtrends/videos/104851985

Fry, Richard. “Millennials surpass Gen Xers as the largest generation in U.S. labor force” http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/11/millennials-surpass-gen-xers-as-the-largest-generation-in-u-s-labor-force/ April 2015.

Dorothy HaydenDorothy Hayden, Assistant Director, Office of Career Services, Virginia Military Institute
Twitter: @dorothyhayden
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/dorothyhayden