University of Minnesota researchers have identified critical personal characteristics that can help young adults as they begin their careers.
“The current ‘Great Recession’ in Europe and America has had particularly severe consequences for young workers,” said University of Minnesota sociology professor Dr. Jeylan Mortimer. “They suffer high unemployment rates with lasting consequences for their careers.”
Researchers discovered three psychological orientations and behaviors that influence employment success during the transition to adulthood: educational aspirations, career goal certainty, and job search activities.
“Although structural factors like industry, region, etc. are undoubtedly important, these three characteristics are found to be particularly significant career transition resources,” said Mike Vuolo.
Young adults who maintained high career aspirations and clarity of career goals from age 18 to 30 were more likely to be employed between 2007 and 2009 (when they were 33-36 years old) and also to have higher wages in 2009.
However, young workers uncertain of their career goals were less successful in weathering the economic turmoil. These trends persisted even when educational attainments were controlled.
“The factors identified in this study are interrelated amongst themselves and also influence longer-term successes and vulnerabilities during difficult economic times,” said Mortimer.
Researchers used data gathered from the Youth Development Study, an ongoing study that began tracking a group of more than 1,000 9th graders from St. Paul, Minn. public schools.
These individuals have been surveyed annually since, with the analysis for this study spanning the years when the participants were 18 to 36 years old.