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HOW TO WORK FOR BABY BOOMERS . J. David McMahon ’69 Associate Director Texas A&M Career Center. Do You Have a Career Plan?. 39% of college graduates do not have any career plan 69% lack knowledge to make an informed career plan

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how to work for baby boomers


J. David McMahon ’69

Associate Director

Texas A&M Career Center

do you have a career plan
Do You Have a Career Plan?
  • 39% of college graduates do not have any career plan
  • 69% lack knowledge to make an informed career plan

“If you don’t know where you are going – any path will get you there.” – Alice in Wonderland

  • What can you do with your major?
  • What do you really want to accomplish with your major and career?

“Jobs are owned by the company, you own your career’ – Earl Nightingale

four generations
Four Generations

GenerationsBorn Between….

  • Matures 1922 – 1943/46
  • Baby Boomers 1943/46 – 1960/64
  • Generation Xers 1960/64 – 1980
  • Millennials 1980 - 2000
matures on the job


Detail oriented



Hard working


Inept with ambiguity & change

Reluctant to buck system

Uncomfortable with conflict

Reticent when they disagree

Matures on the Job
baby boomers on the job

Service oriented


Willing to go the “extra mile”

Good at relationships

Want to please

Good team players


Not naturally budget minded

Uncomfortable with conflict

Reluctant to go against peers

Put process ahead of results

Sensitive to feedback

Judgmental of those who see things differently

Baby Boomers on the Job
gen xers on the job




Not intimidated by authority




Poor people skills



Gen Xers on the Job
millennials on the job

Collective action



Multitasking capabilities

Technological savvy


Need for supervision and structure

Inexperience, particularly with handling different people issues

Millennials on the Job
realistic expectations
Realistic Expectations
  • There is no such thing as a dream job
  • Don’t expect a 6 figure salary
  • Every job comes with responsibilities
    • Some of them are unpleasant
      • Dealing with customers, overtime, weekend/night duty, cleaning up, budgets, appraisals
  • You are not entitled to raises and promotions
realistic expectations10
Realistic Expectations
  • No trophy for just showing up to work
  • What are you going to contribute to the company? vs. What can the company do for me?
  • Volunteer for tough projects or seek out opportunities to solve problems outside of your job role or responsibilities
  • Profit Sharing
    • The company has to achieve a profit above the cost of money first .... > 5%
    • You don’t always get rewards
realistic expectations11
Realistic Expectations
  • Bosses are given the responsibility to supervise – that means POWER & teacher
  • You know the theory, but you need to learn & develop work savvy
  • You’ll be working in global cultures – they don’t pamper Americans – no kudos if you don’t contribute
  • It’s not about you, it’s about Economics 101 – are you contributing to making a profit, have you added or saved 1 year’s worth of your salary?
realistic expectations12
Realistic Expectations
  • Not just a 40 hour week
  • Employees are ranked
    • Highly valued, run-of-the-mill, lowly valued
    • You must be better than good to be considered indispensable

“It’s not what you do between 8 and 5 – it’s what you do between 5 and 8”

- A&M Recruiter

realistic expectations13
Realistic Expectations
  • Figure out the unwritten rules – is your workforce really empowered?
  • You earn respect when you give respect
  • Do you know how to take notes in a meeting?
  • Employees who embrace and implement change prosper while those who don’t struggle throughout their careers.
realistic expectations14
Realistic Expectations
  • Instead of being able to spend as much time as you want checking your Facebook or MySpace account, or responding to every text or e-mail message when it appears on your screen or phone, you are faced with rules and policies curtailing their use. Especially if it is a company supplied Cell phone or computer.
  • What are the rules of communication within your new work environment:
    • is it okay to send a message with wallpaper or border; address your boss in an e-mail as “Hey Jessica”; or forward a mass e-mail or YouTube video to a few co-workers?
anticipate failure
Anticipate Failure
  • Learn from your mistakes
  • Have you failed yet?
  • You are expected to complete assignments – on time!
  • When things don’t go your way – GET OVER IT!
  • Embarrass your boss (or co-worker) and you lose their loyalty

“I really didn’t say everything I said”

– Yogi Berra

the golden rule
  • “Them that have the gold, make the rules!”
    • As long as it isn’t illegal or immoral, you probably ought to do it the company way.
your momma don t work here
Your Momma Don’t Work Here
  • Think and act for yourself
  • Employer hired you, not your parents
  • Work out your own problems
top 6 reasons for firing college graduate new hires
Top 6 Reasons for Firing College Graduate New Hires
  • Unethical behavior (28 %)
  • Lack of motivation/work ethic (18 %)
  • Inappropriate use of technology (14 %)
  • Failure to follow instructions (9 %)
  • Late to work (8 %)
  • Missing assignment deadlines (7 %)

2007 survey of Employers by

Collegiate Employment Research Institute

how to be the employee your company can t live without glenn shepard john wiley sons inc 2006
How to Be the Employee Your Company Can’t Live Without Glenn Shepard, John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2006
  • Create your own job security by making yourself a highly valued employee
  • Learn what your supervisor’s values are
  • Be highly productive, pro-active and low maintenance

“Things come to those who wait, but only the things left behind by those who hustle.” - Abraham Lincoln

  • Answer questions before your boss asks them
  • Earn your paycheck, the company will not exist if it doesn’t make a profit
how to be the employee your company can t live without
How to Be the Employee Your Company Can’t Live Without
  • Do whatever needs to be done, whenever it needs to be done
  • Take great pride and be the best at whatever you do
  • If you can’t be on time, be early
  • Minimize unnecessary mistakes and learn how to handle reasonable mistakes
  • Polish your social graces if you want to influence others

“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment” – Ben Franklin

how to be the employee your company can t live without21
How to Be the Employee Your Company Can’t Live Without
  • Adopt a strong work ethic – don’t let the monkeys pull you down your ladder of success

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”

– Thomas Edison

  • It’s hard to soar with eagles when you surround yourself with turkeys
  • Be proud of what you do, but let others know you appreciate their work also – check your ego at the door
  • Your raise will become effective when you become more effective
  • 85% of people get promoted due to personal work skills, only 15% is due to their education
how to be the employee your company can t live without22
How to Be the Employee Your Company Can’t Live Without

16.Understand the difference between failing and making mistakes

“In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure” – Bill Cosby

  • Have a desire to solve the company problems, succeed in solving those problems, earn a reputation for your problem solving skills

“We have no problems; however, we do have lots of challenges and opportunities” – David McMahon

18.Don’t confuse activity with accomplishment; don’t give ultimatums; don’t break the chain of command; don’t underestimate your duty to serve your employer

the older worker advantage us news world report dec 2008
Understand recessions

Willing to work part time

Have real life experience

Want to be challenged


Can control their emotions

Network is bigger

Loyal and reliable

Want to learn

More satisfied with their job and benefits

The Older Worker Advantage US News & World Report, Dec 2008
bill gates advice
Bill Gates Advice
  • Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it!
  • Rule 2 : The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
  • Rule 3 : You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.
  • Rule 4 : If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.
  • Rule 5 : Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.
  • Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
bill gates advice25
Bill Gates Advice
  • Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try de-lousing the closet in your own room.
  • Rule 8: Schools may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. Some schools have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
  • Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.
  • Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
  • Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.