Entrants (or re-entrants) in today’s workplace are dealing with economic challenges in their own way (with very little help from companies or government: adopting a simpler life-style; accepting lower wages but trying to do something socially relevant; more autonomy through entrepreneurism on a smaller scale; more stay-at-home moms (or dads).

Further to my earlier remarks about the impact of the ‘Great Recession’ on disadvantaged entrants to the job market, especially young people, I thought I would share some other trends I’m noticing in my career counseling practice.

A second trend, perhaps as a consequence of this disappointed generation is some gradual re-wiring of values. Since increasingly they can’t afford the mortgage, nor the commute, many young people may be adopting a simpler lifestyle: 1200 sq ft house, 1 or maybe 1 & 1/2 baths, a single-car garage (or no garage), walking to work.

One more trend, more the 40-somethings, is increasing interest in doing satisfying work, relevant work, social purpose work, and being willing to make the change. Sometimes people have had to lose a job they didn’t particularly like to find the courage (default?) to do a job they want to do. In my career transition practice I’m seeing more of this, but I don’t know if it will last or if it is mere sentiment.

In a related way I’m seeing a strong need for autonomy and this is fueling more entrepreneurism and self-employment, increasingly among women.

I’m seeing more interest in one of the spouses staying home with the kids, well past the mat leave period. They don’t want daycare, they want to raise the kids themselves. And increasingly, it’s the dad who is staying at home.

In the end, I’m seeing a return to two fundamental values. (Or maybe I’m just an aging idealist!)

People are taking more responsibility for themselves in managing their own careers in line with their own values. I’m seeing more of that among young people today. (We almost always see this ethic among new immigrants who have risked everything just to get here.) They don’t want a hand-out; they would value a hand up.

But people in positions of responsibility are beginning to talk about aligning work with employees’ values. Action is much harder. (This is not an institutional issue, it’s a matter of individual action. Are managers and leaders taking on this responsibility? Are you?)

All of us can play at least some small part in contributing to the career success of others. And in the bargain, contribute to our own career satisfaction. It’s the right thing to do.