Shopping for Jobs

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Forget job hopping. An increasing number of Americans are job shopping. The consumer mind-set has taken control of the employment market.

In this issue, Associate Editor Rebecca Gardyn chronicles the attitudinal shift taking place within today's labor force. Sure most of us are working harder than ever before - as evidenced in our past cover stories "The End of Leisure" (July) and "The Great Outdoors" (August). But we're also demanding a lot more from our prospective employers. Thanks to a low unemployment rate and a shortage of skilled workers, Americans today have greater latitude in how and where they work.

Granted this approach of "shopping for jobs" is tied to the growth of the economy. But the same factors that have helped produce this shift - technology, flexibility, portability - are resilient enough to survive a recessionary backlash. Businesses and their workers have fundamentally recast their relationships around evolving mutual needs. And, even with an inevitable economic downturn, the control that workers have gained is likely to remain.

Indeed, in a few decades when a new generation enters the labor pool, this outlook toward employment may be business as usual. Yet, that's not all that will change for America's next generation - or for businesses that market to it. In our other feature story, Contributing Editor Alison Stein Wellner gives us a first look at Generation Z. She tells us how Gen Z's initial experiences as students may shape their attitudes as consumers. Technology, it seems, is making strides in the classroom, allowing teachers to individually customize lessons for their students. If marketers hope to reach this group, they, too, will have to individually tailor their messages.

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