Much Lauded, Sort of Hated…That’s Us Millennials

Maren Hogan Generations, Maren Hogan

So it’s sort of my job to talk about us young ‘uns. Laughably so, if you could see me and my Bonnie Raitt gray streak. But I thought I might try talking about it from a millennial’s POV. Instead of trying to figure out what they want, why don’t I just tell you what I want?

1) Need for speed. I get so frustrated during job hunts (for myself) and as I recruit. I can’t support this Bonnie_raittwith any scientific data, but I believe that many millennials are heading to SMBs because they are just plain faster. When I go in and have a great, exhilarating, three hour, four person interview, I want the stinking job man! Don’t leave me hanging. In the aforementioned interview, which actually happened, I found out THREE MONTHS LATER that they wanted to hire me. I was their first choice. Too little, too late.

2) Challenging work. I currently recruit for technology positions, and I hear this a lot as a tech need but I think it goes beyond that (I also think it goes beyond my generation, but that’s not what this post is about). What I do know is that creativity and challenging work is essential for me and my fellow whippersnappers. Once we master a skill, we’re ready to learn a new one, even if you don’t think we’re quite there yet. So, guide me to about 90% of the skill I think I’ve mastered and introduce a new skill for 10% of my time. Keep using this ten percent rule until I have learned several new skills. This makes me a great asset to your company and keeps me busy and out of the soda fridge.

3) Change. Do not confuse challenging with hard. Do not confuse drudgery with progress. My generation has seen a literal whirlwind of change. If you need drudge work done, I highly recommend you find a high school student or an intern to do it. College grads and young professionals struggling under the burden of ever-weightier school loans do feel they are owed something better than glorified data-entry, telemarketing or filing. If you insist that your millennial do these menial tasks, I suggest investing in killer training. Even telesales can be fun if you learn from the best. Hire professionals who speak of their craft as if it’s well. . .a craft, to train your team. And make sure you highlight how this will help them all during their career. Change can also take the form of scheduling. If you can’t offer great work, at least give them the opportunity to do it from Starbucks.

4) Quid Pro Quo. There was a time when a job equaled security. That time is sooooo no longer. I distinctly remember hearing about this coming “trend” in sociology class in college. So not only is my generation aware of it, they are trying to educate us about it. If there is no security, then loyalty is severely affected. To get loyalty from your millennial, you must earn it. You may have heard this before, but you need to tell the Hiring Managers. Ready? We don’t want the job as badly as you want us to take the job. Shocking?? But true nonetheless. Now, I know I sound so stinking arrogant you want to reach through your computer and strangle me. But I’m asking you to take that (misdirected) rage and turn it around. You need us! We are good with technology (us), great with your ever expanding customer base (us and slightly older us-es who want to be cool) and are learning (even now) how to market to our younger counterparts (mini-us). So give us just the tiniest bit of respect.

5) An iron fist in a cotton glove. Yes, I am saying it. Millennials need someone they can respect. Period. But you can’t sugar coat it. Set immediate expectations and ensure that your millennial workforce knows they are non-negotiable. It’s very much like parenting in a way. The boundaries have to be there, but it’s also important to pick your battles.

Oh yeah – don’t forget a steady supply of Smartees. (any candy will do, ask your millennial)