The New York TImes posted an op ed piece suggesting that a tough recession will be harder on younger workers than older workers. You can read the article here. The Times ask you to register but they don’t bombard you with all kinds of junk email. I’ve subscribed for years and never had a problem.
There is some truth to this idea. I recommend Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, which offers a popular version of some theories of life course theory, a field of social psychology. The year you were born can make a huge difference in your opportunities. The person who graduates into a world of opportunity gets a foot in the door at a good company. She doesn’t have to be outstanding to enjoy rewards. Her entire career can be influenced by her very first job out of school.
But at the same time, this fortunate young person can be caught in the crossfire when she turns 50 or even 60. No matter how carefully she’s planned, she might find herself out of work at a challenging time, with fewer opportunities and age discrmination.
A younger person can seek alternative opportunities. If I were in my twenties today, I would look at the military and the Peace Corps. I would consider law enforcement.
But mostly I would consider starting my own business – a good option at any age.
- Right now in Seattle, my dog walker has no shortage of clients. Some dog walkers in major cities earn over $100,000 a yearm according to a recent book about dogs.
- If you’re a cat groomer who will go into people’s homes, you’ll do very well. I tried to find a mobile cat grooming service in Seattle and gave up.
- Are you willing to clean houses? Provide lawn care? Develop a concierge business? There’s no shortage of opportunity.
The nice thing about owning your business is that you can grow as you learn. You can start out cleaning houses and then use your business acumen to grow into an organizing service or even set up shop as a business consultant. Christine Kloser began her million-dollar-a-year business with a yoga studio.
Government seems to be looking to the WPA of the 1940s as a model for helping the unemployed. I’d like to see a whole new model of employement support: a nationally supported incubator for new businesses, with qualified advisors and coaches, along with tax incentives.
In the 21st century, that’s a far more realistic option than pounding away at corporate doors.