Leading edge companies are realizing that the market conditions present when you start your career affects your level of success.

Everyone loves a good story about how someone worked really hard and eventually attained great success. It’s part of the DNA in America. However, more and more research is pointing to the fact that the playing field is not level. One of the ways in which it is not level has to do with market timing.

There is a correlation between the national unemployment rate when people start looking for their first job and the amount they are paid over their lifetime. Those graduating in a weak economy are often underpaid, underemployed and/or unsatisfied with their job. Unfortunately, the affects of a weak job market are carried over job after job after job. Hard work alone does not change the outcome. Consequently, lifetime earrings and quality of life are negatively impacted.

How do we change the dynamic? In short, people need help to get a fresh start and more importantly the right start. Policy changes, employment practices and social programs can help more people achieve more success and realize the American dream.

Leading edge companies are helping to level the playing field

1/ Wellness:
Leading edge companies are starting to acknowledge the correlation between market conditions and quality of life as millennials join the workforce. Those graduating during the Great Recession were significantly impacted because there were very few jobs and many of them are also burdened with sizable student loans. Consequently, wellness programs are starting to include school loan repayment programs to ease the financial burden and help level the playing field.

2/ Salary History:
Reporting salary history and expected pay to new employers carries the pay inequity problem to every subsequent job. Policies in some states now prevent employers from asking for salary history to prevent pay inequity and wage erosion. Leading edge companies have acknowledged the problem and adjusted the pay of current employees to ensure pay equity across their organizations.

3/ Mentoring:
Starting people on a team with seasoned professionals to help them learn the skills needed to succeed in the workplace. As teaching hospitals have learned, bad outcomes are preventable when you surround new physicians with experienced doctors and nurses until they attain the experience needed to do their best work. Bad outcomes are preventable in corporate America too with the right mentoring.

Effective mentoring: What can the right mentor do?

1/ Experience flow: Flow is a pleasurable state experienced when people are fully engaged by their work. Unfortunately many people don’t know what flow is or why it’s important because they haven’t experienced it on the job. Designing your Life by William Burnett is another good resource for identifying periods of flow in your day-to-day life. Mentors can help translate the types of activities that produce flow into jobs and opportunities that are well suited to you. [Recommended Reading: Flow and Designing your Life]

2/ Continuous learning: Deliberate practice is what makes people really good at what they do. To effectively structure practices, people often need a mentor that can objectively assess their skills and identify assignments that provide just enough of a stretch to keep people in their learning circle. [Recommended Reading: Talent is Overrated]

3/ Build trusting relationships: Relationships are an important element of success in business and likability is an important part of building trusting relationships. Being likable is a skill that can be learned. In short, people like people who connect and communicate with them in the way that matters most to them. [Recommended Reading: To Sell is Human]

4/ Support: Mentors should help you navigate the political landmines that are present in every workplace, industry and country. Effective mentors can help you steer around the landmines and/or clear the way for your initiatives. [Recommended Reading: Radical Candor]

One of the most important messages from the book When is the fact that if you got a bad start, you can begin again.

Fresh Start: 

1/ Social Landmarks: Every year, month and week presents a new opportunity to start again.

2/ Personal Landmarks: Dates specific to you such as a birthday or anniversary is an opportunity to start new.

If you’re looking for a new job, evaluate the programs offered to give you the right start and the best chance for success.