Hungry for Career Advice, Employees Turn to GenAI for Career Info


Where do you go for career advice? Sometimes workers seek mentoring opportunities and guidance from their managers, but many find their manager’s advice to be inadequate or nonexistent. New research finds Generation Z in particular is turning instead to generative AI tools such as ChatGPT for help.

Thirty-nine percent of 1,600 U.S.-based employees said they’ve received bad career guidance from their manager. They claim they have gotten better advice from:

  • Friends and family: 62 percent.
  • Google: 44 percent.
  • Social media: 36 percent.
  • AI: 34 percent. Among Generation Z, 47 percent said they get better career advice from ChatGPT than their manager.

These findings come from the report Unlocking Organizational Success by Supporting Employee Growth and Development from Workplace Intelligence, a research agency, and INTOO, a career development and outplacement firm. The report is based on a survey conducted Nov. 19-Dec. 2 with full-time workers evenly divided between HR leaders and other employees.

Two-thirds of respondents were Millennials and members of Generation X—32 percent and 31 percent, respectively. Others included Baby Boomers and Generation Z (19 percent and 18 percent, respectively).

The lack of development opportunities is a long-standing complaint from employees, particularly Millennials. Overall, 54 percent of survey respondents said they feel completely on their own regarding their career development.

Younger members of the workforce already are turning to AI to craft their resumes and cover letters, according to a report from LaSalle, a national staffing and recruiting firm in Chicago, that surveyed 2,756 college seniors in March 2023.

ChatGPT and similar tools can quickly gather industry data and career path information, the University of Massachusetts Amherst career center notes on its website. The caveat, it said, is the information “is not guaranteed to be up-to-date or accurate.”

Hungry for Guidance

Managers can make a difference by giving their employees thoughtful career information, and providing that guidance can go a long way in retaining workers.

Younger members of the workforce are especially hungry for career guidance, with members of Generation Z—the oldest of whom are 27—more than twice as likely as Baby Boomers to say they’d like to have career conversations with their manager at least once a month, according to the Workplace Intelligence/INTOO report.

But conversations about career goals, promotion opportunities and similar topics are few and far between. About a quarter of all employees have formal, monthly career conversations with their manager. Twenty-one percent have formal, quarterly conversations; 18 percent have formal annual conversations. Seventeen percent have never had a formal career conversation with their manager.

For three-fourths of workers, learning and development are just as valuable, or more so, than a promotion or title change. High on workers’ list of development opportunities are developing technical and soft skills, having opportunities to work on a new project outside of their normal scope of work, and having a mentor or coach. However, 59 percent said their organization rarely or never helps them explore ways to grow outside of their current department.

“We found that the majority of workers expect their organization to offer courses, classes, opportunities to support projects in other areas of the business, tuition reimbursement, and mentorship or career coaching,” said Mira Greenland, chief revenue officer at INTOO, in a news release. “However, a relatively low number of leaders report that their companies offer these benefits.”

And their employees are going to leave if they don’t get the developmental support they seek. Twenty-five percent of all workers said they will quit within the next six months if their organization doesn’t support their career development. That sentiment was shared by 44 percent of the Generation Z cohort surveyed.

Managers’ Responsibilities

Among HR leaders surveyed, they predicted 30 percent of their employees overall, and 44 percent of Generation Z, were likely to quit within the next six months because of a lack of support for their career development.

“Learning and development programs offer important benefits to workers and companies alike, but most aren’t hitting the mark,” INTOO said in a news release about the findings.

It noted a misalignment between employees and HR. Only 22 percent of workers said their company’s learning and development opportunities and benefits are excellent, versus 41 percent of HR leaders.

“Employees expect their manager to help them grow in their roles, and many HR leaders believe that employees are having this experience,” according to the report.

Seventy percent of all employees said they face at least one obstacle toward making career progress, including their manager not supporting a job change and not being aware of promotion opportunities or resources.

Workers cited a variety of reasons for the lack of guidance: the manager cares more about their productivity than their career development (63 percent), is more focused on his own career (47 percent), doesn’t know how to offer career development (46 percent) or is disinterested in the employee’s development (35 percent).

A lack of training for the manager also may be a factor, according to Workplace Intelligence and INTOO. Researchers noted that just 51 percent of the 800 HR leaders surveyed said managers at their company receive training when hired on how to provide career development guidance.

The report also suggested managers are hoarding talent, calling it “a common phenomenon in which managers discourage internal mobility because they want to keep their top talent for themselves.”

Some employees noted that their manager is too busy to talk to them about their career.

“The fact is, managers are often stretched too thin to focus on career development for their team members, and they don’t know how to provide good career advice,” said Dan Schawbel, managing partner at Workplace Intelligence, in a news release. “Leaders need to prioritize addressing these issues if they want to retain their talent and bolster their efforts around internal mobility.”

That prioritization also includes spending time on their own growth.

“Encourage them to prioritize development and promote this value across your organization,” the researchers said in the report. “When managers are supported, they can more effectively support their employees and your business will reap the benefits.”


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