Earlier this year, I joined the Career Advisory Board, a panel of academic, corporate, and career experts sponsored by DeVry University. Our goal as a group is to provide insight, advice and counsel on trends, economic forces and cultural shifts that impact career opportunities. In my role as a founding member, I helped to devise a research study, The Future of Millennial Careers, which aimed to take the current thinking about the careers of Millennials (or current twenty-somethings, born 1980-95) a step further. We wanted to assess how Millennials and their managers felt about the younger set’s future career potential given the recent economic downturn.
The research demonstrated that young professionals have a new definition of success, but that hiring managers don’t see a substantial change. For a successful career, doing work that is personally meaningful and achieving a sense of accomplishment are just as important to Millennials as earning a high salary, but Millennial managers still perceive compensation as being the primary motivator for their younger employees. And perhaps due to the recent recession, young professionals are being far more cautious about career moves than traditionally believed by managers who labeled them “job jumpers.”
Fortunately, Millennials and their managers did agree on the opportunity areas for Millennials to develop their workplace skills. For instance: Fifty-one percent of managers believe Millennials exhibit an inability to accept criticism from their managers; 54 percent of Millennials are in agreement. Fifty-five percent of managers believe Millennials lack patience with established processes; 47 percent of Millennials agree. And thirty-eight percent of Millennials believe their generation cannot communicate effectively; 35 percent of managers agree.
The research results are detailed in a white paper that also offers actionable advice for working Millennials and their managers. We suggest, for example, that managers help Millennial master transferable skills like such project management, marketing and finance that will allow the younger set to succeed in their future careers. We also recommend formal and informal mentoring programs so that the generations may learn from one another, and in-house generational dynamics training so that managers and Millennials can address and remedy some of their communication challenges.