Candice is a graduate working for a reputable media company. As a junior administrator, she receives a respectable salary with company benefits. Soon after joining the business, Candice is asked to stay an hour later than her usual leaving time, in order to assist with the completion of an important report. She refuses on the grounds that she was not given enough notice and has already made other plans that are ‘unbreakable’. When her colleagues comment on her unwillingness to help, Candice explains that she feels she should be paid more if she’s expected to do the work of other employees. In spite of her mediocre performance, Candice expects to receive a large bonus at the end of her first year. When her manager explains that her bonus is based on job performance and that she will not be receiving one, Candice claims she’s being unfairly treated. Regardless of how she performed her duties, she believes she’s entitled to a bonus and ultimately quits her job.
Sadly, Candice’s attitude of entitlement is not unusual in the workforce of today, particularly amongst the most recent generation of adults born between the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Labelled the ‘Entitlement Generation’, these individuals were raised to believe that it is their right to have everything given to them more than any other previous generation. For these new graduates, everything is about ‘me, my growth, my performance and what is or isn’t part of my duties’. It’s not uncommon for these graduates to feel that certain tasks are below their level of employment, and even though they have no working experience, the expectation is to immediately inherit a title and the large salary that goes with it. This generation is the first to grow up surrounded by the modern, instant gratification technology of digital media. They ‘want it all’ and they ‘want it now’ in terms of good pay and rapid advancement.
A graduate from any background is however, not going to earn a massive salary straight off the bat. Practical experience to support the theoretical qualification must first be gathered. Graduates must demonstrate that they can apply what they’ve learnt and are learning on the job, before the rewards can be reaped.
A new graduate entering the workforce would do well to consider the following advice:
- Look at senior people in the company and realise that they had to invest many hours to get to where they are now. It took them years of hard work to become leaders in the business. This success is achievable but, but understand that it won’t happen over-night. It is during the first years of a career that the most critical lessons are learnt. These are your character building years.
- Focus on what needs to be done in the company and then do it. Don’t worry about the title and type of work you’ve been given to do. We all want a higher rank and to earn more money and that’s good. Everyone should aspire to greater things in life. But just because you hope to advance eventually, doesn’t mean you can’t find elements of your job today, that you can be passionate about. Put your head down and start producing results – this is more likely to get you noticed in the company.
- Fall in love with the job you find yourself in and do that job to the best of your ability. In a recent report issued by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), South Africa is projected to have the eighth highest unemployment rate in the world in 2015, and depressingly, the report forecasts that the situation is not going to change for the next five years! With no guarantee that jobs will be secured after university, graduates need to understand that bad attitudes in the workplace are simply not tolerated. There will always be other graduates waiting to be given the same opportunity and many will be willing to do the same job for less pay. So be grateful for the job that you have and remember, you can always ‘steer a moving ship’.
- Add value to your organisation and you’ll see that they’re willing to help find a suitable employment path for you. Internalise your company’s values and act in a way that is in the company’s best interest. Allow your job to become an extension of who you are.
It takes a lot to survive in today’s ever changing world, but the perfect job is out there for every graduate. With a willingness to do what others aren’t, performance does and always will matter. Simply showing up is not enough to justify rewards in the form of praise and promotions.
Author: Brendan Powell, Director at Isilumko Activate
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