A resume that lists all your failures? Don’t laugh – it worked!

While this blog stands resolutely against the more juvenile attributes of the struggling Millennial generation — as witness the ‘Kim’ story of yesterday, in which a 20-year blew through her $90,000 college fund and blamed her parents (who else?) for not teaching her budgeting skills — fair is fair, and we’re equally happy to recognize entrepreneurial “go-getter”-ism when it appears.

Here’s a young man who has figured out how to make his resume jump from the vast pile of lookalikes: highlight failure.

I’ll leave it to you to read the article to get all the “business-y”  reasons why this may be good (and certainly, you can’t argue with the results). But I suggest another, less utilitarian reason why the ploy was successful: it shows a sense of humor, which in my experience usually means you’re dealing with an interesting and intelligent person.

A resume of failures stands out to employers – Business Insider.

But wait a sec, wait a sec — didn’t I dump all over the self-mocking “We suck an we’re sorry” video and didn’t an array of Millennials in turn dump all over me, some of them hoping I would die soon? And isn’t this “resume of failures” just that same tactic?

Not at all. Here’s why:

1. He’s at least using his list of failures to accomplish something. He’s not just saying “poor messed-up me” and leaving it there.

2. He’s related his list to real-life aspects of the industry (relevant resume, remember?) and taken a shrewd shot at some of the b.s. that everyone acknowledges but is afraid to say (creative award shows and new business pitches, for example). In this, he demonstrates some wisdom beyond his limited on-paper experience.

3.  He’s got guts, and he pursues follow-up publicity and recognition quite aggressively.

Very Boomer-like, if you ask me…

Conference Board of Canada discovers the obvious: older workers earn more than younger ones. Yikes!

The Conference Board of Canada has released a new study that, in the words of the Financial Post, “suggests that younger workers are making less money relative to their elders.” SUGGESTS?  Let’s get serious. Of course they’re making less money than older workers. When has it ever been different?

“Age, not gender, is the new income divide in Canada,” the headline shouts. New? Like the Baby Boomers, when we were in our 20s and 30s, were making more money than the 50-somethings?

But wait – the gap is much worse today. According to the study, Canadians 50 and up have 64% more disposable income than 25-29 year olds, whereas it was 47% in the mid-1980s.

Why is that bad?

Because it is somehow unfair. The story quotes Andrew Langille, a Toronto-based labour lawyer and youth employment advocate: “Increasingly it’s clear that Canada doesn’t have a problem with a declining middle-class; rather, it’s a problem of income and wealth inequality for younger generations.” What’s more, he says, “unless politicians get serious about intergenerational equity, the issue has the potential to cause damaging social and economic consequences.”

What are those consequences? One was spelled out by David Stewart-Patterson, a vice-president of the Conference Board and one of the co-authors of the study: if the younger generations  don’t start earning more, their inadequate wealth won’t throw off enough tax dollars to pay for health care for the retiring Boomers.

Okay, let’s stop and catch our breaths and try to make some sense out of this mish-mash.

In absolute dollar terms, there is no question we have a problem. I have chronicled it in Beyond Age Rage, and blogged it about frequently here: the Millennials are not getting untracked. They are struggling to find good jobs and earn good incomes. Everyone knows this; even the advertising industry is starting to realize that the much-touted “youth market” is no longer performing the way it did in previous generations.

And yes, if the younger generations don’t start earning more — and generating more tax revenues — many government programs, and not just health care for the Boomers, will be at risk. The Millennial malaise is real — and serious.

But it doesn’t that “intergenerational equity” is equally real, or serious, as an issue.

For openers, the concept is inherently silly: why should someone who has been working for five or ten years necessarily earn more than — or even close to — what someone can earn who’s been working for 20 or 30 years? It has nothing to do with equity, and everything to do with experience and level of responsibility. The Millennials of today may be delayed by several years, but they are on the same track as the much-hated Boomers were: they will gradually earn more and rise in the ranks, and it’s an absolute certainty that when they are the same age as today’s Boomers, they will be pulling in significantly more money than today’s newborns.

Duh.

And besides, if you’re really worried about the under-earnings of the Millennials, what can the solution possibly have to do with the higher-earning Boomers? Do you decree that they must all take a pay cut and transfer the funds to the younger generations?

The Boomers are already paying up, after all. 6 out 10 provide financial assistance to adult children still living at home.

No, the answer lies elsewhere — and again, we have documented all of this consistently and faithfully on this blog. The education system drastically needs reform, so that it doesn’t churn out so many unqualified people. The good news is that this is already starting to happen, as Generation Z, coming in behind the Millennials and learning from the horror show of their immediate elders, shows more interest in job-related courses in the colleges and less interest in the humanities, which offer the double disadvantage of being (a) expensive and (b) disconnected from the job market.

In one sense, we can look at all of this as the inevitable result of the “revolution in aging.” If 70 is the new 50, why shouldn’t 30 be the new 20? What looks like “falling behind” will certainly level out. It will just take longer than we’re used to. But then again, the Millennials will have much longer at the other end, too. (Unless they take Ezekiel Rmanuel’s advice, outlined in my other post today).

Is ‘temp’ the new ‘permanent’?

Are we becoming a nation of contract workers? According to business services firm MBO Partners, there were almost 18 million “independent workers” in the US last year – up 10% from only two years earlier. Is it a continuing reaction (or maybe over-reaction) to the recession? Is there something deeper at work? Could actually be a good thing – for both workers and employers?

Check out this report on NBCNews.com. It will give you plenty to think about. Many of the themes I’ve been blogging about in this space are play on a large scale:

For Americans who can’t find jobs, the booming demand for temp workers has been a path out of unemployment, but now many fear it’s a dead-end route.

With full-time work hard to find, these workers have built temping into a de facto career, minus vacation, sick days or insurance. The assignments might be temporary — a few months here, a year there — but labor economists warn that companies’ growing hunger for a workforce they can switch on and off could do permanent damage to these workers’ career trajectories and retirement plans.

This subject isn’t going away any time soon.

Meet the “encore” entrepreneurs (you may be in for a surprise)

I’ve written before about the growing trend of Baby Boomers to start their own businesses. It’s an ideal way to handle the economic “triple threat” of today – real or potential job loss, under-funding for retirement, and lousy rate of return on those funds that have been set aside. Now comes evidence that women are outnumbering men as “encore entrepreneurs.”

This interesting report from BBC News cites data from a Kauffman Foundation study to show that the Boomer entrepreneurship trend is growing: in 2012, people aged 55-64 started 23.4% of all new businesses in the US, up from 14.3% in 1996.

But according to data from another source – Babson College – 10% of US women between 55 and 64 had taken steps to start their own business, compared to 7.5% for men.

The BBC story includes several interviews with women who have taken this step. The main reasons are what you’d expect – job loss, income reduction due to the recession, inadequate retirement funds. What’s different this time – compared to people of that same age in previous generations – is the perception that there is still time to turn things around, the willingness to start again, and the presence of a strong entrepreneurial mindset.

That – and a growing amount of support information and services. Books, seminars, consultancies – the trend to Boomer entrepreneurship has fueled an entire mini-industry of people (with real or self-proclaimed expertise) ready to help.

This is just the beginning. And it’s another nail in the coffin of “retirement at 65.”

Gallup Poll: The percentage of Boomers who will not retire at 65 climbs to…

A new Gallup poll, conducted last month, confirms – yet again – that more and more Baby Boomers are not planning to stop working at the “traditional” retirement age of 65.

According to this poll, 39 percent said they expect to retire at age 66 or older, and a further 10 percent said they expect to retire…um, never. Add the two together, and you get 49% – just under half.

Of the others, 24% expect to retire on schedule at 65, and 27% said they’ll retire at 64 or younger.

The trend to working longer is, as we’ve seen, driven by three  factors coming together at the same time: increased longevity (and therefore, the need to have cash for more years), Boomer underfunding (a shockingly high number have saved up less than $50,000), and the lifelong Boomer attitude to work (we like it). I expect the percentage who don’t retire at 65 to keep on climbing.

 

Watch me on The Zoomer, with Conrad Black and Denise Donlon, tonight at 9 on Vision TV

I’m pleased to be back on the panel again, and the topic is: the workplace. We had a lively discussion, and you’ll recognize many of the issues, from following this blog. Watch The Zoomer tonight (Monday, January 20) on Vision TV, at 9.00 p.m.

If you want more information on the program, visit the web site here. You can also watch my two previous appearances on the show, on October 15 when we discussed “age rage” and the apparent “war of the generations,” and on November 18 when we talked about the state of Zoomers – pensions, aging, and a whole lot more.

I hope you’ll be watching tonight — and let me know your reaction!