Job Hopper. Impatient. Entitled. There probably isn’t a recruiter, hiring manager or business owner out there who hasn’t thought about using these terms to describe the millennial generation – adult Americans aged 25 to 34 in 2015 – at some point in recent history.
However, are these unfortunate stereotypes really true? Maybe not.
As someone who recruits talented individuals in accounting and finance for a living, I have a unique vantage point (a front row seat) to how individuals of different generations approach and think about the idea of tenure with a company. In this day and age of constant restructuring, reorganizing, downsizing and rightsizing (whatever that is) the days of someone staying employed with one company for an entire career are almost nonexistent. Further, the current hiring climate is at an incredibly interesting pivot point as the baby boomer generation begins to think about and prepare for retirement while new generations of accounting and financial professionals are beginning to hit their stride in their careers.
In a market where demand far outweighs supply and as more and more millennials enter the workforce, companies are scrambling to understand not only how to recruit and hire members of this fresh generation, but how to retain them as well.
A commonly-held opinion that I’ve been guilty of myself is the thought that millennials don’t plan to stay put in a job very long. Recently, a finance leader I’m currently working with expressed judgment against all millennials after one newly hired employee quit, saying, “This generation has zero loyalty and an even shorter attention span.” While I am certainly sensitive to the frustration that comes with a new person leaving a role after only a short time, it appears as if the millennials as a whole are being judged rather unfairly – and there’s data to support this.
The fact of the matter is that younger professionals do tend to change jobs more often than more seasoned workers, but that has always been true. More specifically, the statistics on job tenures for Americans in their 20’s during the 1980’s were almost identical to those of the same age span today. The reason millennials get such a bad rap has much less to do with reality as it has to do with sheer volume. Very simply, there are a lot of them in the workforce today. By 2020, millennials will be the largest generation in the workforce. As a result, movement among millennials is significantly more pronounced than that of other parts of the market.
Further, we are coming out of a period between 2008 and 2013 where unemployment peaked and new opportunities were few and far between. As a result, those individuals who were thinking of making a job change at the time were too afraid to do so, embracing the long held theory that the “devil I know is better than the devil I don’t.”
Ultimately, professionals put their heads down and did their best to weather the storm, even if they were unsatisfied with their current career situation. Now with an improved market and accelerated hiring, we’re seeing more movement across many experience levels, not just specifically amongst the younger generation.
Have stories of your own regarding millennials myths and truths that you’d like to share? Leave your comments in the section below.