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  • Mark Olivito

Fight The Lost Decade

In my opinion, there's only one "Best" movie character of all time. Hands down, ROCKY. And the CREED spinoff is phenomenal. Great mentor, apprentice relationship. The start of their training together...

Yes it's a movie. It's entertainment. And it's educational because this type of relationship happens all the time in real life.

The past 4 year's I've been relatively active looking for new talent to join us at PAVERART. I've reviewed well over 500 resumes and have made a number of observations from our recent opening for a factory associate. We posted on INDEED in late March, I "invited" 75 people to apply for a job and reviewed over 150 more resumes.

Some observations:

  • AMAZON. About 2/3's (and I may be UNDER-estimating) of all the resumes I viewed had Amazon on their resume at some point over the past 5 years. I was a bit blown away at how wide their reach has become.

  • Of those resumes that had Amazon in their work history, the overwhelming majority spent significantly less then a year at Amazon. While I didn't have the time to record the data, I would venture to guess that the average tenure of all the Amazon experiences came to about 4 months.

So the Amazon presence and the short stints is observation #1.

Observation #2, and much more important?


career planning, accomplishment, brick by brick
The Lost Decade

What is the lost decade?

It's the person that is 10-15 years out of high school, with the following characteristics:

  • MULTIPLE jobs, usually 7+ jobs, and the transition from one job to another is NOT "upward" it's for the same type of job. Example? 5 entry level jobs, go from Walmart, to Wawa, to Fast Food, all entry level positions. Rinse and repeat over a number of years.

  • More then 1 job with an exit before 90 days, usually 2+.

  • Significant GAPS of time where they have left the labor force throughout the decade. 1.5 years+ was common.

Careers tend to run 40+ years. They are long. But a decade is NO SMALL % of a career at 25%. It's as good of a sample as it gets. Companies measure themselves on quarters, it's a snapshot for a year. It's difficult to have a great year if you have to overcome a horrendous quarter. The same is true for a decade in a career, have a rough quarter and the hill becomes that much harder to climb.

What % of people that I come across feel like people in the lost decade category? WAY Too high. 2/3's of all resumes.

Why does this matter?

The candidate sits in front of us. We need the talent, work has to get done. They are in their early 30's, they have little if NO money in the bank. They may have credit card debt. More often then not they don't have a drivers license or their OWN transportation. They've experienced many jobs and experience is always good. But what have the accomplished?

And an employer, (in this case me) asks themselves one basic question:

Here's a decade + since high school. In and out of the workforce. Multiple jobs that were either walked away from either by choice (quit) or by force (fired). Reliant on others for showing up, consistently and on time. This has been going on for a decade +. What is the reason to believe that their NEXT 10 years will look much different then the past 10 years?

That's the lost decade in a nutshell. Looking back at a decade plus and your foundation is not rock solid. Foundations are something you can either build on, or they are shaky and they will continue to be built un-level, with cracks and shaky raw materials.

Let me be clear:

Multiple jobs and companies is NOT a DIS-advantage, it can very well be an ADVANTAGE. But there needs to be a reason from moving from one job to the next. In other words, are they on and upward trajectory, or just leaving one job for a near identical job? ESPECIALLY when it's less then 90 days. Why 90 days? That's the classic "probation" period where an employer can let someone go and not face unemployment consequences or debates as to why they were let go. Remember, of the hundreds of resumes I reviewed, the majority had MULTIPLE positions on the resume over the decade with <90 day stints. Hardly the sign of a person on the rise, more symbolic of the person that can't do the basics needed just to STAY employed. And the basics aren't much.

What are the basics? At a minimum:

  • Attendance: Show up. On time. 99% of the time.

  • Do your base level job in the time allotted. When someone asks a person's manager: "how's Johnny doing?" what's the overall answer?

Doing the basics simply avoids the <90 day termination, doesn't guarantee it but it's a major start.

So how do you avoid the lost decade?

First, Job #1 matters.
Find an opportunity that best sets you up. Then Deliver.
  • Find a company with ambition and skill to grow.

    • In our economy, the reality is that you are either growing or you are dying. Growth provides the potential for expanded opportunities, experiencing and compensation. Rising tides tend to lift the boats. If the company is struggling, it's a built in headwind that works it's way to all employees.

  • Understand if the team is pulling in the same direction or pushing against each other.

    • Try to understand if there is politics, cliques, favorites. Politics within an organization is poisonous.

  • Understand as much as you can about your manager, and your manager's manager.

    • Your job satisfaction is directly tied to this.

  • Make sure you know what your getting into, what a "week in the life" in the job really entails. See the job in action, envision yourself in it and how happy (or not) you could be).

    • Failing to understand fully what your getting into is like a taking a test without doing any study whatsoever. Don't expect to ace that test, pray that you'll pass it. Too many people take jobs and then are surprised once they begin....."I had no idea I'd be doing X for 6 hours a day and I hate X!"

  • Understand what success looks like within an opportunity.

    • How? Ask them. Then ask what the outcomes are for successful performance, both for the job you perform and the company.

  • Survive 90 days. Better yet, knock it out of the park.

    • Get better every single week. If you have a fantastic 90 days there's a great chance you can have a great year. And if you have a great year......

Fighting against the Lost Decade requires thoughtful consideration. Making a solid first choice. Then executing with maximum energy. On day one of your career you should NOT be looking 10 years down the road. But you SHOULD be consumed with day #1 and maximizing that opportunity. Then day #2. Day 2 should be slightly better than day 1. And 3, 4, etc.

All success in life tends to follow a simple formula that feels like Brick by Brick. One step at a time. Take that step, and ensure it's the right one. Then execute with every ounce of energy and optimism. Then the next one......

Start there and you've done what's in your control not just to avoid the lost decade, but to build a decade of results, accomplishment and satisfaction. Brick by Brick.....

"If you look hard enough, you can see your whole life from up here."

Take it away boys. One Step at a time.

Want to learn more to take that next step?




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