An HR master’s student reminds us to develop the next generation of leaders.
In today's globalized world, the American business environment contrasts quite drastically from its predecessor of 50 years ago. Generations such as the baby boomers enjoyed an economy that enabled companies to hire new, young employees with minimal experience and develop their employees’ professional skills in the workplace. Baby boomers could find work in car-making companies, factories, or clerical work. Employees could enter a workplace with the hope of gaining new skills and opportunities without a college education.
While the U.S. has an aging population and workforce, the millennials are expected to make up 50 percent of the workforce by 2020 and 75 percent by 2025 (Morgan, 2016). However, for the millennial generation of today, the process of getting hired is more rigorous than in the past, and obtaining long-term professional development within a single company has become increasingly difficult. Now more than ever, applicants must make a significant investment of both time and money to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to enter the workforce competitively.
According to Generation Opportunity, a nonprofit organization that advocates for millennials, nearly 40 percent of the national unemployment rate in 2016 is represented by millennials between 18 and 29 years old. Why? Simply put, millennials face a very competitive hiring environment:
“Millennials are the largest and most educated generation in the U.S., yet we are facing an unemployment rate of 12.7 percent [September 2016]. Our generation is struggling to find good-paying jobs or start our own businesses…” (Sutton, 2016).
Millennials have difficulty obtaining jobs despite their academic preparation and credentials. This begs the question: What factors are preventing more millennials from obtaining the gainful employment they feel they merit? There are plenty of myths about lack of loyalty, impatience with development opportunities, and others. In reality, millennials want to make a positive impact on their organizations. They want to do work that they are passionate about, and they want to manage a work-life balance at about the same level as baby boomers (Pfau, 2016).
The high cost associated with millennials seeking their first or second full-time job is one of the main factors limiting many millennials from gainful employment in a job with upward mobility (Carnevale et al., 2013a). Consequently, many millennials are not being used to their full potential because they find themselves in a job that does not maximize their knowledge and skills, or they are stuck outside of the workforce altogether. If companies are to expand and grow successfully, millennials must be at the center of the workforce to accomplish that growth. Without millennials, companies will find long-term growth difficult.
Increasingly, the use of one-on-one job interviews is being replaced by the group interview and, in some cases, an entirely online application and interview process. This trend toward technology as the basis for submitting applications and conducting interviews ought to align well with most millennials; yet, the trend towards technology within the last three decades has not proved to facilitate greater levels of employment for millennials.
What does that mean for millennials that want to enter today’s workforce? Sadly, these advances in the world of business do not imply that the average millennial earns more money: “…During the first decade of the 2000s, many college graduates were forced to move down the occupational hierarchy to take jobs typically performed by lower-skilled workers” (Abel, 2014). This shift creates an environment in which college graduates inadvertently push out less-educated laborers who often have a more difficult time reentering the workforce. Hence, it makes economic sense for companies to cater their recruiting to recent college graduates so that they can in turn train and develop them with the goal of long-term employment.
There are many companies that have embraced this approach to recruitment. Companies such as Apple, Google, and Amazon are looking to the younger generations to innovate and improve their businesses in conjunction with the technological needs and desires of the global market. Other companies should consider looking to hire younger workers with college degrees to reinvigorate their business and backfill their soon-to-be retiring baby boomer population.
There is the perception by some that years of experience is the most important measure of one’s employability. Organizations might also consider enthusiasm and innovative ideas that can be brought in by recently graduated workers as a complimentary approach. Companies that understand the advantage of valuing enthusiasm and innovation when recruiting can position themselves competitively.
Financially, the cost of hours of training new staff without work experience might seem to make hiring millennials a big a risk to undertake. Millennials are perceived as having advanced technological skills and find it easier than older generations to access information and transform it into new opportunities via technology.
College graduates are also less expensive to an organization when one compares the cost of their salaries and benefits to those of more experienced employees. They tend to have fewer family responsibilities and more time to invest in their work, career, and in the organization. In addition, recent graduates who lack prior work experience can be a blessing in disguise for two reasons: they don’t bring previously learned bad habits and they are willing to learn.
Another advantage of younger hires is that they are often more adaptable to changes within the organization. Their combination of enthusiasm and determination help them shine and give them the ability to demonstrate that they are a good investment. Organizations should take advantage of the chance to have someone who effectively offers a fresh start with less preconceptions to align or uphold.
Companies can train millennial hires based on the needs of the organization and employee. This can serve as a benefit for the company since it makes it easier to retain these new hires for the long term. An organization should ensure continuity and efficiencies in their operations while demonstrating that it values the well-being of its employees. Organizations should consider millennial hires as one way to enable organizational adaptation to the ongoing changes taking place.
While there is always an inherent risk when hiring someone new and young, it makes sense with an increasingly younger workforce. It serves as a way for the organization to reinvent itself in a time when evolving will be needed. The key is to align this younger workforce’s ambitions and motivation with the organization’s goals in order to foster a strong and productive employee-employer relationship.
Maria Marquez is a Venezuelan with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting and a Masters in Science in taxation and international business. She is currently pursuing a Master’s in Human Resources at Rollins College in Winter Park. She thanks Edwin Mouriño, Ph.D., assistant professor of business and social entrepreneurship at Rollins College, for his guidance.
ReferencesAbel, J., Deitz, R., & Su, Y. (2014). Are recent college graduates finding jobs?. Current Issues in Economics and Finance, 20. Retrieved from: https://www.newyorkfed.org/medialibrary/media/research/current_ issues/ci20-1.pdf
Canevale, A., Smith, N., & Strohl, J. (2013b). Recovery: Job growth and education Requirements through 2020, Washington: Center on Education and the Workforce. Retrieved from: http://cew.geotgetown. edu/report/recovery-jobgrowth-and-education-requirementsthrough- 2020/
Canevale, A., Smith, N., & Strohl, J. (2014, February 21). Too many college grads? Or too few?. Retrieved from: http://www.pbs.org/ newshour/making-sense/many-college-grads/
Payscale, Inc. (2016). 2016-2017 College Salary Report. [abstract]. Retrieved from http://www.payscale.com/college-salary-report
Pfau, B. (2016). What do millennials really want? The same as the rest of us do. Retrieved from Harvard Business Review: https:// hbr.org/2016/04/what-do-millennials-really-want-at work?utm_ campaign=harvardbiz&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social
Morgan, J. (2016). The 5 trends shaping the future of work. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrhmHbDLM8o
Stahl, A. (2015, May 11). The little black Book of billionaire secrets the 5.4% unemployment rate means nothing for millennials. Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2015/05/11/the-5-4- unemployment-rate-means-nothing-for-millennials/#730690fe57d4
Sutton, C. (2016, October 7). Millennial unemployment rate at 12.7 percent in September [abstract]. Retrieved from: https:// generationopportunity.org/press-release/millennial-unemploymentrate- at-12-7-percent-in-september/