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MISUNDERSTOOD - got a job your parents don't understand?

If so, you probably know plenty of others in your age group who have the same problem.

Whether you’re a millennial, a Gen Z, or some other alphabet concoction, what you do in terms of job title or actual job tasks may baffle an older generation. Some job experts claim to be surprised at this situation. Yet they shouldn't be. Job re-invention and job destruction, titling and task definitions have been part of an unending process of every developing society.

Once everyone knew what most people around them did for a living. It was clear what their daily efforts produced. Not so now.

Try explaining to anyone over 30 what exactly you mean by “influencer”. Or that some people earn a more than respectable living by being famous for being famous. There’s the stay-at-home mum who is a full-time influencer on Instagram. With nearly 200,000 “followers”, she collects an average of $5,000 for a single Instagram post and $3,000 for an Instagram Story. Easy money if you can get it!

Or try explaining Bitcoins to anybody who doesn’t trade in them. It is equally confusing that the most prominent Bitcoin empire was run by a shorts-wearing iconoclast living the high life in Bermuda who has just gone bust, taking lots of people’s cash with him.

There is a definite generation gap around the language of the new economy and what “work” actually means. You can still be an accountant, an administrator, a doctor, or a customer service person. But many new roles lack transparency and take more than their fair share of time to explain to the uninitiated.

For example, tell someone that “I’m the chief evangelist” in my organisation. Or “They call me Captain of Moonshots”. Or “my job is “inspiration officer”, “change manager” or “being part of the Global PMO team”. As for working as a “Champion of wellness software and legislation”, you may know what it means, but not many others do.

Does any of this wordplay matter? Each generation produces new jobs matching the particular needs of the time. If you are an “IT security” specialist like my son, you have probably long since given up trying to explain to your annoyingly curious dad precisely what you do every day.

The big crunch in the job-naming game is, “OK, I get the title, but do you enjoy it?” That engagement matter keeps being hammered home by numerous surveys such as Gallup data in which 85% of employees feel disengaged. The shocking number suggests far too many employees negatively view their workplace.

Far from being “happy”, many young people are busily hunting for a position elsewhere. Or they do the bare minimum to get through the workday. An earlier study found that most (81%) employees would leave their jobs for the right offer. And not even for the money. Some three out of four Gen Z employees say they would take a pay cut if it meant scoring their ideal position.

Although job transparency seems here to stay, one principle that might guide you in choosing your next job might be, “Could I explain why doing this job will make me happy?”


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