Generation Y (the millenials, the digital natives, or however you refer to them) has transformed the entire job-search process into a technological game, where the fast, savvy, and connected are beginning to trump the patient, experienced, and traditional. LinkedIN and Branch Out, along with web-based job search engines have revolutionized the way one looks for work.
Yet in spite of all these changes in the landscape, there is a stark difference talked about far less: the mindset of the candidates. Right or wrong, Generation Y more fundamentally believes that it is a buyer’s market when it comes to looking for a job; after all, they are in a culture that woos talent, the world is smaller, and there needs to be a higher return on investment. Generation Y surely approaches the job hunt differently, aided by their technology and networks, but it is these three primary reasons that more profoundly separates them from their predecessors.
Maybe it’s Lebron James, maybe it’s Wall St investment banking (pre-crash), or maybe it’s pseudo-celebrities charging tens of thousands of dollars for appearances, but Generation Y has grown up in a world where talent is woo’ed. The latest census results show the widest disparity between entry-level positions and CEOs ever, and it is this disparity that drives a very simple thought: talent deserves recognition. And Gen Y is talented! Technology capable, global mindset, and filled with enough energy and know-how to set the world ablaze. Some call it entitlement, and though it may seem this way, recruiters and employers need to recognize: it is the norm, not the exception. Even the humblest of youths entering the work force believe they are worth something, and gosh darnit, they want whatever that something is.
The other paradigm shift, especially in the logic of modern-day job seekers, is the reach of an individual. Baby boomers were limited in their opportunities by sheer logistics, and while Generation X helped to bridge the gap, Generation Y has made all of Earth its playground. Jobs that were once impossible to reach, companies that were once impossible to work for, are now all in the realm of possibility. And with those opportunities, comes a bargaining chip. The large corporation in a tiny midwest city no longer stands as the singular option for today’s youth; the internet has guaranteed that. This globalization has shaped the attitude of a job seeker: it has made the market a buyer’s market.
Finally, the latest change in the minds of Generation Y, whether they know it or not, is a sheer financial proposition. Millenials expect a return on their investment, as exhibited by many of the younger protesters of the Occupy Wall Street movement. With rising tuition costs, heavier competition, more students choosing advanced degrees, there comes a thinking that “more” from employers is required. After all, a $200,000 education cannot be met with a $35,000 salary. This very simple change has changed the attitudes of job seekers, shifting power from employers to candidates.
In spite of difficult economic times, on a macro-level, it is slowly becoming a buyer’s market, and rightfully so. The world around corporate America is recognizing and rewarding talent; the world is becoming a smaller and more opportunistic space; and young graduates are asking for a return on their educational investment. This generation has a right to feel the way they do! But the real lesson here isn’t for the sellers; it’s for the buyers. While we agree that the landscape has caused fundamental change in thinking and job search approach, the true challenge for Generation Y is to walk the walk. How one feels the job searching should go is only the foot in the door. But what about inside? Learning to be a professional; navigating your career path; engaging in your work…that is where the true challenge lies for Generation Y.