Are we Failing our Careers or are our Careers Failing Us?

We've all heard it, "this generation doesn't have any loyalty" and "they change jobs too often." Basically the stereotype of Generation Y is that we don't stay at our careers very long and when we become annoyed with office politics, feel that we're not needed, or that we aren't making a difference we pick up and move onto the next job. I believe (and please correct me if I'm wrong) that during one of Penelope Trunk's keynotes she said that on average we change jobs about every 18 months. Of course that is a general statement but if we enter the workforce when we're 23 and retire at 65, we've spent 42 years working, or 504 months. At a new job every 18 months that means we've have gone through 28 different careers during our tenure in the workforce. So my question is this, "Are we failing our careers or are our careers failing us?"

I think there are three potential answers to this; (1) our careers are failing us, (2) we are failing our careers, or (3) both are failing each other.

Maybe our careers aren't giving us what we need/want out of a job - expectations for personal growth, need to always be learning, opportunities for group problem solving, creativity, a good work-life balance, the list goes on and on. Are we accepting positions at companies that we know don't offer us what we need simply with the belief that once we find something better we will move on? Or did we take a position with the company with the promise that all our Gen Y wants would be filled - only later to find out that they don't offer us anything we truly need or want?

Maybe our Gen Y glasses only let us see what we want from our career. Are we too focused on making the company work for us that we are unwilling to work for it? Is there a possibility that we are being too demanding of what we think the company should offer us? Sure there are different levels of what a company should offer you. If you don't have any room for advancement, your successes aren't being praised, and there's no room for any kind of professional or personal development then chances are you won't be happy there for too long. But what if the company is trying and wants to offer you the things you need/want but they just simply can't - whether it's political or they just simply don't have the money?

Maybe it's a little of both. Over the last few years we have hit the labor force like a tidal wave and it may be unrealistic to think that all these companies can change their company culture overnight to accommodate our needs and wants. Do we plan on jumping from company to company until the workforce is done changing its culture to accommodate us or will we stick it out with one company and help them make this change?