With the retirement age on track to reach 67 by 2026, aspiring young professionals will soon be faced with the idea of spending more than 50 years in the workforce.
To some, this may sound like a life sentence, especially with the increasing pressure being heaped on young shoulders to decide on the right career path. While the mobility of startup and digital culture offers diverse options, young people are finding these important decisions difficult to make confidently.
It takes trial and error and time for someone to find what truly makes him or her happy and fulfilled at work. Yet to be labeled a “job hopper” or “indecisive” can be devastating to both confidence and reputation. So how can young graduates, without the benefit of significant work experience behind them, figure out which work environments are right for them?
If job seekers can enter the tenure track in the spirit of self-discovery — identifying their skills and talents while considering their hobbies and passions — it’s entirely possible to find a company that will convince them to stay for the long haul.
Here are three tips for finding a job that will feel like a dream career, even 50 years down the road:
1. Look for a company that makes a difference. Does the company have a mission that you believe in? Are you important in the company’s overall journey? Choose a company that has an open position that fits your skill sets and desires. This way, you’ll be engaged and motivated to work every day to not only fill that role, but to also to expand and transform it.
In addition to a company with a mission that aligns with your passions, look for a company that makes a difference in the community around it. What causes would you like to be involved in? Find a company that lets you feel like you’re helping the world, not harming it.
2. Look for a company that helps you grow. A long-term career should help you develop both professionally and personally. Look for companies with professional development options — that’s a sure sign they are committed to investing in employee growth. Encouraging this type of growth shows that your company wants you to stay for an extended period of time.
[Related: 29 Best Jobs for Work-Life Balance (2016)]
A company that’s invested in your professional development may help you discover talents you didn’t know you had. My own career path was very much a product of what was happening in the industry at the time. Companies like Google were just beginning. One of my first loves was advertising, and its intersection with tech was really exciting to me. You may not know what you’ll be interested in, so find a job that will let you explore your strengths.
3. Look for the right culture fit. You want to work somewhere you’re happy to go every day, so it’s crucial to look at how the company is run and what the culture is like. A company that emphasizes mentorship is important, too. This can help you find your true passion at work.
At Underground Elephant, we put a lot of emphasis into cross-training employees. This can be a huge benefit to entry-level professionals, with open channels of communication and an open invitation for changes to be suggested to our structure. If change is desired, we’re happy to nurture and train someone into a new role.
Startups especially have a lot of employee movement as they strive to find the best fit. A company that supports employees’ talents offers the opportunity for mobility: a key attribute to look for.
Don’t be afraid to look for your dream job — one with chances to grow and one that helps you make a difference in the way you dream of making a difference. All of a sudden, 50 years stops sounding like a prison sentence and starts sounding pretty dreamy.
Jason Kulpa is the CEO of Underground Elephant, one of the nation’s premier customer acquisition solutions companies for leading brands. By leveraging proprietary next-generation marketing automation technology, Underground Elephant is able to provide the highest quality, direct response solutions at unprecedented scale.