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Boom Times for Young Workers?

Cost-Cutting, Layoffs Create Opportunities to Move Up Quickly and Acquire Responsibilities

April 20, 2010

As companies adjust to operating with leaner staffs, many young professionals in their 20s and early 30s are receiving types of responsibilities typically reserved for employees with more work experience. Millennial workers are being pressured to do more for different reasons, with most of these reasons related to labor costs. Some are faced with higher-level work after surviving a round of layoffs that affected higher-ranking colleagues, while others are being asked to do more as companies rethink their business models in the recession. While it can be a stimulus to career development, handing young employees these types of roles can often lead to a difficult adjustment period both for the individual and the company.

Many young workers are finding ways to take advantage of the added exposure and are quickly building new skills in the hopes of keeping the roles they wouldn’t have such fast access to in a more robust economy. Others are using the opportunity to figure out what they want to do next. It’s a strategy that career experts say can pay off, especially if you can deal with the added responsibilities by learning to do extra tasks in your free time that can help you learn more about important areas. As you do so, be open with your supervisors about your goals and what positions you’re interested in so that they can keep you in mind when openings arise now.

Adding upper-level responsibilities can mean increased exposure to senior-level officials. Ask your bosses to be clear about what their expectations are for how they want you to perform in your new role. After becoming familiar with the role, take advantage of your new relationships by sharing ideas for projects or for ways to improve the company. This could also offer an opportunity to figure out if an altered career path is a good fit. Of course, problems can arise when employees are given more responsibilities with little guidance or resources. Some people will inevitably be elevated too fast without support that they would ordinarily get when the company isn’t in crisis mode. Thus, don’t be afraid to ask a colleague for help if you need more resources or guidance to get a task done.

From The Wall Street Journal
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