Building the Millennial Career

What they need from their company, management, and themselves.

Some people think Millennials are the worst. They say this generation is too focused on building careers and social issues. So much so that Business Insider reveals their death toll includes:

  • Casual dining chains - Support local businesses and order on GrubHub.
  • Starter homes - Can’t afford the costs or they’re saving for a forever home.
  • Big beer - Support local breweries and their uniqueness.
  • Motorcycles - They’re dangerous, duh.
  • Yogurt (exception: Greek) - They see right through marketing trends and added sugar.
  • Diamonds - Reprioritizing finances.
  • Physical bank locations - Thanks, but they’ll do it online.
  • Gyms - CrossFit, yoga, SoulCycle, and other boutique classes.
  • Oil - Do you even care about the environment?


Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we should talk about why we should give a damn about this demographic. According to Millennial Marketing, they account for everyone in the U.S. between the ages of 19 to 42. That’s 25% of our country’s population!

Bottom line, whether you like it or not, your company needs millennials. And millennials need your company. How can all parties work happily together?


THE COMPANY

As an employer, it’s important to note benefits that mean something to one person may mean something entirely different to another. Annual surveys can help gather both quantitative and qualitative input to evaluate what’s truly important. Protip: this group feels more invested when there are financial benefits tied to the company’s success (i.e., profit sharing, ESOPs).

Flexible, scalable benefits are also key. For example, being able to opt out of health insurance altogether is a significant plus for some.

Go figure, because millennials are more likely to make a purchase from a company that supports causes, they also prefer to work for companies that align with their values. Providing opportunities and incentives to participate in or communicate internally about volunteer or donation activities is a great place to start.


THE MANAGER

Transparency, transparency, transparency! If you’re a manager of a millennial, there should be a clear line of communication to build trust and create a sense of ownership. This means involving them in decision-making, plans for career pathing, the condition of the company, and the work you’re doing. This demo wants to play their part in making a difference.

Kim Scott’s book Radical Candor has some insightful content on this topic. Communication that carefully balances praise and critique is what will grow millennials—and your relationship with them. It’s about always getting better and learning, while acknowledging their work. Use radical candor to tell them exactly how they’re doing, whether positive or negative.

And when it’s positive, give credit where credit is due. Recognize their work in front of the entire company, otherwise, risk them feeling unappreciated and having low morale.


FROM THEMSELVES

Constant improvement is crucial as a millennial. Know your achievements will take hard work and effort. So seek out online and organizational education, certifications, and initiatives that you can contribute to. Work on your cross-functional communication. Evaluate and adjust existing processes. Find inspiration in others’ success.


Fail often, but fail fast. Take responsibility for your actions. Embrace challenges and learn from criticism. Consider exercises for soliciting this feedback like the Johari Window. It’s especially useful for improving self-awareness and personal development.

Ryan Sperry

Director, Media & Insights