Starting this year, millennials make up half of the American workforce. And in five short years? They’ll account for 75% of the global professional world. Every generation comes with its reputation but these 20, 30 and 40-somethings have especially been hit hard.
Technically anyone born between 1980 and 2000 is a ‘millennial’ but with the negative connotation, many people try to avoid labeling. But should they? If you ask modern career experts who have worked with this age group (and some who are part of it), millennials come with a plethora of benefits. In fact, most of the ideologies about working with and working for these young leaders are misguided and in some cases, not true. Here, they myth bust typical millennial characteristics and instead, share what’s actually pretty stellar:
Myth: Millennials are self-centered, and all they think about is ‘me, me, me”
Truth: Millennials are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in
When most people think of the generalizations around millennials, they instantly picture professionals who are only out for themselves. This is a grave misconception, according to Courtney McKenzie Newell, the founder, and CEO of Crowned Marketing & Communications, and the author of FutureProof: The Blueprint of Building a Brand Millennials and GenZ Love.
Rather, their passion to connect and create movements that inspire social change are misconceived as egotistical or fantastical. In fact, one study conducted by Deloitte found that almost half—47%—of millennials have the desire to make positive impacts on their community and society as a whole. And sometimes, they communicate that with vigor.
“While it is true that Millennials are more vocal—and sometimes unapologetically opinionated—they use their voice and reach to the benefit of helping push social change. Millennials care more about making a positive impact,” she continues. “Millennials care about civil rights, racial discrimination, and healthcare. Millennials believe all actions matter and together, even more, is possible, this is illustrated by Women’s March and #MeToo movements.”
Myth: Millennials think they know it all
Truth: Millennials are open to receiving advice and being coached
When executive career coach Elizabeth Pearson had her first millennial client, she was anxious. Having believed some of the rumors of this generation, she was hesitant especially since their parents had gifted the coaching session, which meant she may not take it seriously. However, she was pleasantly surprised when she showed up on time, prepared and eager to learn more about how to better herself.
In general, Pearson says all of her experiences with this age group has been positive since all clients have been incredibly receptive to developing themselves both professionally and personally. “I can’t vouch that all millennials are eager to learn—as my clients have been, but I can say I’ve had just as many, if not more, adult clients who have not been as dedicated to their progression as millennials have,” she adds.
Myth: Millennials are lazy and waste their money.
Truth: Millennials are quite fiscally responsible
Newell says many people believe millennials waste their money on exotic trips and fancy brunches, rather than taking the tried-and-true route of getting married, buying a home, having a few babies, and waiting around for retirement. However, millennials don’t see one clear path to success and happiness. Rather, they are super-picky about every choice they make, including where their money goes. “Before making even the smallest purchase, they tend to spend hours researching, scouring YouTube, Google, and Facebook for reviews,” she continues. “They work hard for their money and don’t want to waste it with bad purchases.”
Not every professional wants to rise up the corporate ladder, either. Especially since there are many tech-driven side hustles that can bring in a pretty penny. Newell says because millennials do not feel the same amount of pressure to be on a certain timeline, they adopt a more relaxed view to their career trajectories and tend to value balance over income.
Myth: Millennials are totally dependent on technology
Truth: We all are—not just millennials
Before you judge them, consider if you’re part of them. As Pearson puts it, Gen-Xers and Boomers can be quick to cast judgment if they catch a millennial glued to their phones during a movie or at a restaurant—but chances are high they’ve done the same. Because millennials have grown up with technology and are very comfortable with it, their expertise is actually beneficial in the workforce, especially for those who are older and may not quick on to new features as fast. “It’s time for everyone to admit we are hooked—not just the hipsters taking selfies,” Pearson continues. “With new technological advances happening every day, it benefits employers to have their millennial workers embracing and maximizing all available innovative tools.”
Myth: Millennials are job hoppers who have commitment issues
Truth: Millennials stay where they are happy
Though their parents (and grandparents) worked their way up from the bottom at one job—and one job only—millennials don’t aspire to do the same. In fact, Newell says they are often accused of hopping around from job-to-job and have zero loyalty to employers. However, she points to stats that indicate millennials tend to stay at the same gig for two years. In fact, the only difference is that unlike previous generations, they aren’t willing to hang around if they don’t see a clear path to growth—or if the culture isn’t a happy one. “Millennials will stay with employers who provide opportunities for growth and learning, a positive work environment and make them feel as though they are a part of something bigger,” she explains. “While most millennials don’t believe they will stick with one employer for their entire career, they tend to stick with a company unless there are better options for career advancement.”
Myth: Millennials want praise for mediocre work.
Truth: They want to be treated fairly and equally
It’s easy to joke that millennials are the ‘gold star’ generation and they constantly need praise for every little task they complete. Pearson says that may not be a product of their age but more so, their desire to source feedback and continually improve. “Studies show millennials value being treated fairly by their boss more than having a boss who recognizes their accomplishments and asks for their input,” she notes. “Brace yourself because Gen-X employees seem to be the ones who value praise and pats on the back from their bosses as much as being treated equally.”
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