People & Human Resources

Slobs or Jobs-wannabes? Survey reveals employers think young job-seekers have an “attitude problem”

Kirsten Robb /

Employers think young, jobless Aussies have an attitude problem, according to a recent survey by the Federal Department of Employment.

The survey of more than 1000 employers in the Gladstone, Bundaberg-Hervey Bay and Central Victoria regions, conducted in October-December 2013, found the biggest complaint about young job-seekers was their attitude (39%).

While managing Gen Y workers may require a special set of skills, employers still think it’s up to young people to shift their thinking when it comes to getting a job.

Half of the employers surveyed said the best action many young people can take to enhance their employment prospect was to improve their attitude and physical appearance.

Employers reported a lack of commitment to work displayed by many young people resulted in them not having the necessary enthusiasm, reliability, or initiative required to make an effective contribution to workplaces.

In terms of physical presentation, many employers commented on the clothing worn by young people and the importance of physical presentation at interviews.

Gen George, chief executive at OneShift, says young people have grown up with a more relaxed attitude to appearance and employers need to be aware of changing trends.

“Many young people have grown up seeing Steve Jobs in jeans and sneakers and formed that image,” says George. “Attitudes on tattoos have changed dramatically in the last 10-20 years as well.”

“It depends on the workplace and the job, but if an employer needs to be strict, then they need to find someone who fits in with workplace culture,” she says.

However, George says employers need to focus most on finding a candidate who will fit the company’s culture when recruiting.

“It’s like dating, if you don’t find someone who fits the mould then you need to keep looking, it shouldn’t be misinterpreted as an attitude problem,” says George.

She says employers need to be aware workplace trends and expectations are changing.

“The great Aussie dream of getting a job and staying there for 10 years is changing,” says George.

She says with more students studying online or working casual hours at different jobs, employers also need to be more flexible.

“Keep an open mind. You don’t know what you’re missing out on. A young person can be a great asset to your team and your team is the most important part of your company,” says George.

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Kirsten Robb

Kirsten Robb is a former journalist at SmartCompany. Previously, she worked at News Corp as a property reporter for Leader Newspapers and the Herald Sun, and holds a Masters of Journalism at Melbourne University.

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