By: Revanche

A college recruiter on Millenials and their job hunt: is this advice outdated?

March 4, 2010

I had to double-check the publication date on this article after I read it through the first time.  Though some of the information about how Millenials work and play is still valid, does this advice to employers on how to woo new Millenial grads, whose market this clearly is, still make sense?  

……Shake your head if you wish, but this Millennial generation listens to their parents, and so have learned the lessons inflicted upon their parents. Both generations have learned that employers have little to no loyalty to their employees so they respond by showing little to no loyalty back. We may grumble and complain about Millennials being job hoppers, but let’s be honest: most of us would lay them off the first chance we got if our profits took a substantial downturn. They know that and act accordingly. If they are not treated well and offered the opportunities that the employer across the street is willing to offer them, then they will leave you before you have the opportunity to lay them off. So treat them like we should have been treating our employees all along.

Considering the recession, the astounding number of long-term unemployed, and the difficulty in getting a callback for one of dozens of deployed resumes even in a targeted search, this concluding paragraph to employers is at best misleading for current job seekers who might happen across it:

The Millennial generation is probably the most sought after, highly skilled, ready to hit the ground running generation ever to enter our workforce. We are counting on them despite their vastly smaller numbers to replace the productivity of the massive Baby Boomer generation. I believe that they stand an excellent chance of doing so because of the tools and talents they possess. But should they fail, I believe it will be due to the failure of Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers to adapt to the very different needs and wants of this remarkable generation.

It’s the employer’s prerogative to cater to the young’uns?  Coming out of the recession or not, employment is a lagging indicator and has a long ways yet to recover.  In the meantime, I’m pretty sure any employers reading this would simply nod while reaching for the next 4,000 resumes electronically stacked for their two positions currently open.

11 Responses to “A college recruiter on Millenials and their job hunt: is this advice outdated?”

  1. Vicky says:

    How bizarre!

    It certainly has the whiff of something that was recycled…something about 5 years old.

    Even then, this kind of yammer was pretty stupid. Things were tough for most young people even when a few beardless Ivy League business school grads were cleaning up on Wall Street. I knew quite a few graduates of public universities and of private liberal-arts schools; all but one of them was working at near-minimum wage for places like Borders and Starbucks. Employers in general weren’t doing any “adapting” to the Millenials’ whims…because they didn’t have to.

    Oh…the one who went to work for Amazon earning an amazing salary with an amazing housing allowance? Still there, but looking for a new line of work. Burned out.

  2. eemusings says:

    Amen. Possibly a rehash of a pre-recession piece? It would be a nice world if that was true.

  3. L.A. Daze says:

    What is the author smoking? I could definitely use some of it! Right now from what I can tell, employers are looking for people with lots of experience but don’t want to pay for it. Can’t wait for this job market to get better.

  4. Red says:

    Wow! I think the first excerpt of that article is dead on. I watched my mother devote 60-80 hour weeks to her job when I was young. She missed school plays, sporting events and meals at home because she thought she needed to be loyal to her employer and continue bringing home more and more money for her family. While her intentions were good, I’d have rather had her home and unstressed by her work. She’s realizing that now, after having to fight with her boss to get a raise after being promoted to executive vice president of finance, all those extra hours in the office, getting stressed out, and having a horrible evening once she got home… It wasn’t worth it.

    So what did I learn from it? That my job isn’t going to love me back. That employers look at employees as a way to make money, not as someone they care about. So why should we devote our lives to them? I won’t be!

  5. Well, with my bosswoman hat on: If one of my guys (they are all men at present) had an attitude like that coming into the interview, I wouldn’t have hired him. That was one of the things I looked for in weeding people out of the recruitment process. If he developed it down the road, we’d be engaged in some fairly intensive management counseling. I treat my guys like the amazingly talented men they are and provide every bit of recognition, money, and career advancement I can, but they deliver quality work and don’t cop an attitude. Win-win.

  6. Revanche says:

    @Vicky: That’s the sense I got from reading it. Obviously I’ve been knee-deep in the jobbing trenches and this was a blinker.

    @eemusings: It would be, right? But even in the hiring boom I never witnessed any such pandering by employers. Guess I’m in the wrong field. 😉

    @Red: The thing is, I think there’s a huge difference between being dedicated to your job and a high performer versus allowing it to take over your life. And I use “allowing” loosely because I do understand that to some degree, if you want to succeed, you have to put in the hours or the face time or make certain sacrifices so it doesn’t seem like a choice at all. I’ve been there. I’ve done it, I’ve watched my parents do it.

    And I’ve learned that at the end of the day, the onus is on us to find balance. The compact between you and employer is that you present outstanding work and they recognize and reward that. If they don’t, it’s a good idea to find another employer.

    A good employer will allow for a great employee seek that balance, a great employer may help you when you find that balance. But none of them will do it for you. They are, after all, a business.

    @frugal zeitgeist: That’s exactly, I think, what I would expect from a good employer. I give my best, they do the best they can for me, and like a relationship — sometimes it works out. But if either side isn’t giving 100%, the inequity has to be addressed. But then again, that’s an idealistic situation – very few managers and employers are that good. Knew you’d be one of them 😉 Thanks for bringing your perspective.

  7. Hm. I don’t think that expecting to have a personal life as well as a job is “copping an attitude.” Nor is it an “attitude” to recognize that some employers do, indeed, regard their workers as something to be exploited.

    As a worker, I dedicate myself to giving 100 percent of what I’m paid for, not 100 percent of my entire life. Naturally, I aim to deliver the best possible performance on the job. But 40 years of work experience taught me that dedication is a two-way street. It’s unfair and unreasonable to expect employees, even high-paid management, to sacrifice their families and their private lives for the job.

    Nor is it realistic to assume that, when a company demonstrates exploitive tendencies, employees won’t notice it and react accordingly. Low morale a devoted employee does not make.

  8. @Revanche – Thanks! I get good feedback at work on my management style.

    @Funny about Money – Huh? Where did I say that I expect employees not to have a life? Work-life balance is a priority for me personally, and it’s also something I advocate for and to my guys. A large part of my job is enabling my team to succeed, and they can’t do that if they’re getting killed by their workload. It’s up to us to work together to manage client expectations appropriately, and I will always provide air cover when needed.

    What I got from the excerpts above was that millenials harbor a strong attitude of entitlement and lack commitment, and that it’s up to the employer to bend over backwards to accommodate them. That’s not a mindset I can work with: we have to meet each other halfway.

  9. I was the author of that article and it was originally published pre-recession but disappeared from the site for which I originally wrote it. I was asked to re-post it to my blog so that another blogger could reference it without making it look like he was plagiarizing. I should have made a note with the original publication date.

    Yet I stand by what I wrote. There is certainly a difference between the bargaining power enjoyed by Millennials now versus what they had a couple of years ago but they’ll soon enjoy that bargaining power again. In fact, as the months and years go by, their bargaining power will increase exponentially as more and more Baby Boomers will retire or otherwise drop out of the workforce.

    Just because the economy and job market are poor today doesn’t mean that this generation suffers from long-term employment problems any more than my graduating class of 1991 suffered because of the recession we graduated into. That recession was far more mild than this one, but it was still a recession and very, very few employers were hiring.

  10. I think this is severely outdaated, like that one English professor who wrote an article about being horrified at $4 lattes… in 2008. A little late there!

    That said, I’m always really bothered by this explanation of millenials requiring a life and flex time. The older people I work with enjoy their flex time as much as any of the younger people. I’m actually finding them more cynical about the company taking care of them – and they have the great retirement benefits!

  11. Revanche says:

    @Funny About Money: I absolutely don’t think that having a personal life outside of work = copping an attitude. I think copping an attitude about having a life that trumps work is copping an attitude. I’m sure you’ve seen both and seen the clear difference between a professional who does 100% of his or her work and leaves it at work, and the unprofessional who does some of the work, poorly, and complains all the while about how that work interferes with his or her private life because they can’t get more than half done within a reasonable amount of time. The latter is what I’d call an attitude.

    @Steven Rothberg: Thanks for stopping by and clarifying the publication date of your article.

    As one of those Millenials, I can only hope that you’re correct that our bargaining power will return to that extent but I am skeptical. I believe that the recession and stock market drop was severe enough that the *massive* dropoff of Baby Boomers won’t happen to the degree everyone was expecting, and therefore there won’t be as much an employee vacuum as feared.

    @paranoidasteroid: That poor English prof. Maybe he or she wasn’t buying coffee until 2008 🙂

    I honestly haven’t witnessed this attitude anytime recently among either generation, but I’m sure that’s the recession talking. Either way, though, I don’t think the newer mindset is limited to just the Millenials, I think most are jaded by the idea that a company (at large) has the employees’ best interests on the agenda.

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