By JENNIFER CARPENTER from jobing.com
I’m young. I’m inexperienced. I’m a slacker. I’m entitled. I have a short attention span. I can’t hold down a job.
At least, that’s how my elders see me – a member of Generation Y.
But that’s far from how I see the majority of my generation. We’re in a tough spot right now. Most of us who are lucky enough to have jobs don’t like those jobs and those who don’t are finding job searching impossible. Although we’re ready and willing to contribute, we’re faced with Baby Boomers who don’t understand us, and Generation X, who’s stuck between two generations and thinks we’re trying to take their jobs.
I keep coming across articles that try to define Gen Y as some sort of anti-work culture. Granted, most Gen Ys are pretty young and mostly inexperienced, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know what we’re doing or that we don’t have goals of our own. Sometimes I think the older generations forget that they had to start out somewhere, too.
There are a lot of stereotypes out there, everything from "we’re the smartest generation" to "we’re the laziest generation," all of which only make it easier to discriminate. The definitive line between where Gen X stops and Gen Y begins ranges anywhere from 1975 to 1985 through 2000.
I’m not saying there aren’t slackers among us. I know some of them firsthand. There are those who grew up having everything handed to them by their parents – Gen Xs or Baby Boomers who were able to make it and wanted their children to have the best of everything. These Gen Ys always have the newest material things, their parents probably paid for college and they may have even walked into their first job without even having to try, just because they knew the right people. But I don’t think that handful of people should define my generation. There are many of us who have always had to work hard for what we want.
Change (Or move over, old farts)
Most people, no matter what generation they’re a part of, are scared of change, and there’s no doubt society has changed during our time. Because of this, some older generations see Gen Ys as a threat. Gen Ys are used to having information at the tip of their fingers, and grew up with an array of rapidly changing technology, making them extremely adaptable.
Why Hire a Bunch of Entitled Slackers?
As far as the current recession, a similar scenario happened during the 1990s. The dot-com bust found many Baby Boomers laid off, putting Gen Xs in a similar position as Gen Y is today. However, after the bust was over and companies began to recover, they rebuilt their workforce with Gen Xs, resulting in an infusion of youth and new ideas. It’s very likely this recession will bring about the same fate for Gen Ys. And employers have a lot to gain from hiring us.
Not only do we focus on being true and transparent, we’re not afraid to share our ideas and tell upper management we think they’re wrong or that there might be an easier way to do something. Aside from our high values, Gen Y has higher collective SAT and ACT scores than previous generations and is able to do lots of things all at once. And while Baby Boomers and Gen Xs think our ability to multi-task is a curse, taking a five minute break to check your Facebook is no different than taking a five minute break to talk about your children, hang out in the break room or go have a cigarette.
"Millennials are going to change the face of business," Nick Armstrong, of PsychoticResumes.com, said. "Because we multi-task so well, I doubt the eight-hour work day will last much past the economic downturn. I doubt that the eight-hour shift in the office will last either. Personally, I lack the focus to sit in a dreary office, listening to my co-workers ruminate on whatever healthy food they brought in, hear Nosey Nancy gossip about everything and everyone, and spend half my day getting belittled by a patronizing, condescending, hypocritical managerial staff."
How Gen Y is Coping
Due to the old-fashioned, disappointing work style Baby Boomers and Gen Xs seem to be satisfied with, many Gen Ys are escaping by starting their own businesses. Many of us feel it’s more important to make a difference and share ideas than to be caged into the typical work style.
"I want to express my opinions and share my ideas," Armstrong said. "I’m vested in the success of the company. It’s a mortal offense to be filtered, unheard, unable to express my opinions. I go to work to be useful and valuable, to contribute ideas and work with my co-workers to make everyone’s ideas better."
I think people my age tend to live more in the now. We grew up facing the dot-com bust of the 90s, the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and now have a grave economic recession to deal with. Because of those things, Gen Ys seem to be more concerned with where they are today and about doing something that will make an immediate difference than where they want to be 10 years from now. (Besides, nobody really knows the answer to that question).
We do want to save money and prepare for retirement, just as our previous generations have done, but there’s a more imminent feeling that now is the most important time, and everything else will fall into place. Just because we want to do something fulfilling – and it may take changing jobs 10 times to figure that out – doesn’t mean we’re slackers. We were taught to find something we love and do that for the rest of our lives. We’re taking that to heart – it just may take a little time.
As far as having a short attention span, maybe we do. But that doesn’t mean we can only focus on time-wasting activities like video games and texting. It does mean that we need to be challenged. That’s one Gen Y cliché I agree with. However, I don’t think wanting to be challenged is a negative trait.
I do think that any good boss should be able to recognize when an employee is not challenged enough or satisfied enough with their work and do something to change that. Give them another fresh assignment to work on.
We also don’t want work to be our whole lives. Sure, work is important, but there are other things in life, too. That’s why it’s important for us to do what we love and want to be doing, that way work doesn’t feel so much like work.
And last but not least, we do respect our elders, regardless of what they may say. The problem in their eyes seems to be that we only respect those who deserve it – those who have made a difference, whether that be in our lives or on a bigger scale. We’re also a lot less likely to respect people who have a preformed negative attitude toward us. People should remember that you have to give respect to earn it.
So if you can accept that things are changing, provide a little bit of a challenge and learn to respect us the way you want to be respected, then you can find a good Gen Y employee. If not, you’re most likely going to be faced with a scarce workforce as your Baby Boomers and Gen Xs retire and Generation Y moves forward without you.