The Players Haven’t Changed: On Millennials & the Employment Market

Sean Little —  June 19, 2017 — Leave a comment

Millennials are the conundrum of the employment market today. The US economy spends millions researching, reporting, and trying to solve the puzzle of the millennial worker. How do we attract and retain the precious millennial, who will be over half of the workforce very soon? It’s a question that’s on everyone’s mind.

The problem? Millennials aren’t any different than any generation before them (and here’s the IBM study to prove it.) The players haven’t changed. It’s the game that has changed.

Think back to 25 years ago. You might have gotten a job by walking into a building with a “Help Wanted” sign in the front of it. If you happened to catch the boss after lunch, you were hired. Or maybe you typed out your resume on a typewriter and responded to classified ads in the newspaper. Regardless, there was very little information in the marketplace about the experience of working at a given company. Workers were just happy to have a job that paid well and was relatively steady.

What has changed since those days? Everything.

The way we find jobs has changed.

If you thought your job was kind of boring, and maybe it’s not going anywhere, what would you do? Well, you might look around and see what else is out there. And now, in the new age of employment, you would find a ton of options. You could type in your job title online and find 500 listings within 100 miles of you looking for someone like you.

Data from Indeed says that 58% of adults in or looking to enter the labor force are looking at online job listings monthly. Not only are there more options available to the workforce, but the workforce is increasingly aware of those options.

The way we change jobs has changed.

What’s more? The internet tells you what it’s like to work at any company you’re interested in. From former employees to on-demand Q&A’s with employers, there are tons of places to find out how green that grass is on the other side of the fence. The players haven’t changed, but the game has. People don’t want to leave jobs any more or less than they used to. But other companies certainly want your most talented employees to leave their jobs in search of greener pastures. And the competition for talent gives companies incentives to employ more creative tools to get people interested in working for them. From dedicated candidate webpages to video content, changing jobs has never looked more enticing.

The way we create jobs has changed.

Alongside the internet and all the advances in the way we communicate with people has come more opportunity for entrepreneurs. According to the US Small Business Administration, the number of small businesses has increased by almost 50% in the United States since the 1980s. If you walked out of an advertising agency 50 years ago, it would be career suicide to start your own agency with no other employees. Today, that type of “I’ll do it myself” attitude is commonplace, because resources are available for any person to start their own business with a cell phone and an internet connection. It’s much easier to get your name out there, market and advertise products or services, and start making money on your own than it once was. Again, the players haven’t changed. The game has.

The way we do jobs has changed.

Cold calling, door-to-door sales, even print-mail marketing all had their chance in the sun for decades. The way people bought and sold has changed a little bit over time, but employees could pretty much rely on the company’s plan to attack the market. Since the rise of the internet, we have gone through pay-per-click advertising, email marketing, blog marketing, and social media marketing in pretty short order. Where once a boss could compel her sales representative to just make more phone calls in order to get more sales, today’s world requires a company to be more nimble and willing to embark on different methods for acquiring business.

With that comes a different kind of stress. Where before employees might complain that they were being forced to hit their head against the wall with little to no result, now they might complain because they are being forced to hit their head against the wall AND the company won’t let them finish their ladder.

The market for ideas is competitive one, and often represents a more equal playing field than the market for experience. A company that doesn’t keep it’s eyes and ears open, especially when it’s their own employees shouting and waving their arms, runs the risk of losing business and talent in one fell swoop.

millennial game changer

So what can we do?

You know now that it’s not the people who have changed. It’s the market around them that has changed. The first thing you can do to improve the way you attract talent, retain talent, and improve your business is to stop trying to change those things about people that can’t be changed.

You can’t hire someone who just doesn’t like leaving.

If you can’t get employees to stop leaving after 5 years, then build a recruiting process that allows you to replace the ones who leave with other employees who have the same training and skills. Become consistent in your recruiting and hiring efforts. Make the process by which you find people repeatable. That magic headhunter might get you the person with 10 years of experience once, but it will be less expensive and more reliable for you to build a business that doesn’t have to rely on that magic.

The players haven’t changed, but the game has. Now is the time to start reacting to those changes in the game. Look at the way people find jobs, and make the path to your company the easiest and most promising one. Look at the way people change jobs, and make your company the hardest one to leave. Look at the way we create jobs, and find a way to profit off all of you old employees who will leave and start their own thing. It will take time. It will be difficult. But it will be a heck of a lot more effective than complaining about the next generation of employees and how different they are.


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Sean Little

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Sean is an Account Manager here at NewHire. When he isn't catering to the hiring needs of small businesses nationwide, Sean is busy campaigning for the Oxford comma, playing sports, and doing comedy. He takes his coffee with 2 creams, no sugar.

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