Millennials do now account for over 30% of the American workforce. By 2020, this rate will jump to almost 50%. Youth unemployment and underemployment among college graduates now average 44%. Meanwhile, the average student debt in the U.S. has risen to $26,000. The Guardian is now labeling the American dream as the "American debt."
Millennials are often thought of as greedy, materialistic, delusional, and clinging to a fake "sense of entitlement" that is wrecking our job prospects and our integration into the workforce, be it American or European or wherever.
This simplistic viewpoint fails to catch changing dynamics between generations. Millennials want more flexibility, fairer pay, and more say in decision-making. They also refuse to work for companies that wreck the environment or those who don't have parallel plans to benefit their communities as well as their shareholders. Millennials aren't also likely to commit to one company over the long path of their careers. And, if companies don't have specific rention-plans to keep them, they might as well look for another place that is just more fun and perhpas more culturally diverse.
Millennials is the most educated generation in American history and most probably in the world. Yet, they are the least employed. This can't be all about them.
While youth unemployment has been largely blaimed on underqualified applicants, the following list throws back the blame to HR professionals who are failing to recruit the right people for their companies.
1. Many managers demand only a specific set of skills and work experiences before even interviewing
It's true that milenials are not more than 30% of the American workforce, but that only means that many of the other 70% that went to college in the 70's and the 80's make decisions on whether you should join their comapnies based on their conservative opinions of what an ideal candidate is.
The reality is before you even get to the interview phase, someone has to screen out the tons of resumes that a company get. If your resume does not fit their perception of what an ideal major is, you might not even get to wow them in person, even if you think you're a perfect match for the job.
A lot of recruitment is often not done by HR professionals and left to technical managers who only look for the people who had the same academic or career background as themselves. College experience now is more about unicity and innovation, and a lot of managers fail to capture that.
2. Many technical managers overvalue technical brilliance
Again, it's not about applicants, it's more about managers and their stiff judgements about who should be the new hire.
This is especially true if you're applying for a technical position. What's new about these fields is that you don't have to follow a marketing curriculum or major in graphic design to know about these jobs.
Millennials are early adopters and we have a thirst to always learn and know more. You can now easily learn how to code for free on the internet. Some might even like website development as a hobby, but truly are into literature or theater. Marketing and sales are gibberish to learn. Just be super observant with how your favorite retail shops conduct business and you'll know about marketing and merchandising.
College life and student organizations activity are more vibrant than any other time in the world. You can be a Spanish major and be really interested in business, or you could be a management information systems manager who cares deeply about international affairs and politics.
Nevertheless, if you happen to be one of those market analysts who have only done marketing since college, you're required to have a marketing degree and three years of experience behind you to land your first entry-level job. Sad.
3. ... And consequentially many managers ignore "soft skills"
Many managers do ignore soft skills, yet this is really what will get you to get the job done properly and communicate well with your other teammembers and colleagues.
Smart managers don't just look into the IQ of their new hires anymore, but also pay close attentions to their EI: emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence has been broken to self-regulation, self-awareness, social skills, empathy, and motivation. Who would have the most of these if not millennials? I'm not sure if those aging executives who managed Lehman brothers had a lot of self-awareness and empathy when they plunged the country into recession.
Millennials are accustomed to work in teams. They're more culturally diverse and accepting of diversity than Gen-X'ers and boomers. They're also more aware of the importance of it. They like to work on teams and share responsibility. Many have started working since their teen years. Others have been invovled in clubs since middle school and have been great young leaders in their communities. Simply put, we have soft skills that few give us credit for.
4. Many managers are too confident about their hiring choices
"I will know who the right person is when I see them." This is more than just a myth. This is what a lot of recruiters say when they're hiring new entry-levels into their company. What does this mean? Does it mean that they actually know what they are looking for? Absolutely no. It only means that they have a pre-disposed judgement about who the right person is and they aren't likely to change their opinions.
Managers like these follow their guts too much and fail to look sujectively at candidates in a fair way. They are more likely prone to bias. If they had been a high school football quarterback themselves and they think that only this position can teach you how to be a great leader, then they wouldn't care much even if you happen to come in to tell them about your voluteering stories from Combodia to Ecuador to Somalia and why you're the best fit for their company. This will not make it. Who's the failure again in this story? Certainly not that 20-something who had been all across the U.S. on a "Pay it forward" volunteer tour.
5. Few managers ask you about what you like or dislike
This is true. A job interview is often about what the company will need from you and how they expect you to stay overtime sometimes and work on weekends and holidays without complaining, but many managers often fail to ask you about you need or what you want from your job or the company.
If you're wondering to what this leads to, it leads to a high turnover in the company. For a fact, 70% of millennials leave their first company within first two years. But, this isn't because millennials are too demanding. These companies aren't satisfying their needs in terms of flexibility, benefits, or challenging job tasks that would rather require a higher commitment into the company. Another big percentage of millennials do leave because they don't fit into the company culture or fail to identify with the values of the company or the business.
This is the fault of the managers that hired them in the first place. Quitting one's job doesn't certainly look on a resume. Those who quit their jobs will have to go back to unemployment and face a volatile economy. They will have to make the choice again between underemployment, another meaningless job, or taking out more debt to pay the bills. It isn't over yet.