5 workplace stereotypes about millennials that aren’t true

featured-on-usnIf you’re over the age of 30, you’ve probably heard your share of complaining and eye-rolling about millennial-aged workers: They’re entitled and expect to get great jobs without paying their dues, they don’t understand how office hierarchy works, they’re high maintenance, they’re job hoppers – the list goes on and on.

And if you’re under 30, you’ve probably heard these stereotypes about your generation at work and cringed to think that you might be getting labeled that way.

In reality, most of the stereotypes that get lobbed at millennial employees just aren’t true. At U.S. News & World Report today, I talk about five of the biggest, and why you shouldn’t believe them. You can read it here.

{ 236 comments… read them below }

    1. Stephanie

      Yeah, exactly. Being able to log onto Facebook!=successfully coordinating a social media campaign.

  1. Dan

    #4

    I don’t think the layoffs are the important issue here. Try:

    1. The stereotype that you have to move out to move up
    2. Stagnating wages
    3. Increasing amounts of temp/”contractor” labor
    4. No more pensions, and those that are left getting reduced during bankruptcy.
    5. Suspended 401k contributions.
    6. Increasing gap between CEO pay and average worker pay.

    1. BRR

      I think you hit the nail on the head. Not many people of any age feel that much loyalty to their employer. If you see younger people job hopping they are most likely a) trying to figure out what they like and b)are trying to get their wage to liveable amount.

      1. BRR

        and c)took a job because they needed a job but want a position more aligned with their career goals

      2. Michele

        Why should they be loyal to an employer who isn’t loyal to them? Everytime jobs get sent overseas so the folks in the C-suite can get 8-figure bonuses, it tells the employees, millenial and otherwise, that they can’t trust their employer.

          1. the gold digger

            Oh I’m sure everyone is happy when the CEO gets a $12MM bonus after a couple thousand people get laid off and the stock options are worth nothing because the strike price is twice the market price.

            (My mom, to me: “But why would you buy stock from your company at $42 a share when you could get it on the open market for $22 a share?”)

        1. JB

          One of the reasons that customer service at some airlines isn’t great is because the non-pilot employees aren’t treated so great. It makes it hard for them to care about their jobs.

      3. Dan

        I’ve been lucky that the last two jobs I’ve had have quality of life that is through the roof. (Current job has true flexible hours, I rarely work more than 40 hours in a week, allows me to flex my work hours across the pay period, gives 4 weeks PTO to start, and matches my salary with a 10% 401k match.)

        If this is your first job out of school, how are you supposed to know that this is a pretty good gig? (Perfect? No. Promotions are a real b!tch to get.) To me, this is why having a couple of co-ops is real important. That’s your first chance to get a feel for what’s out there before you shoot yourself in the foot.

          1. Dan

            Yup. Math/data analytics/software development. If that’s you, drop your email here and I’ll tell you how to get in touch with me.

            1. Josh S

              I’m rather interested, though I’m farther along in my career in market research/analytics. Somewhat reluctant to post my email on here though… how should we connect with each other, Dan?

              1. Ethyl

                One thing I’ve done is to set up a separate gmail account with my most commonly-used username. I give that one out to online acquaintances for things like this, meetups, etc.

    2. HeyNonnyNonny

      +1 for temp/contracting work being a huge factor!

      I’ve had 3 jobs over the past 2 years, but they were all contracting or temp jobs– I would have stayed at them if that had been possible.

      1. Suzanne

        Yes! I’ve been in the same situation, and I’d also add that “contractor” work is often used as a way for the employer to get around paying taxes and benefits, and putting that burden on the employee instead.

        I think a lot of this comes from small business owners who are struggling themselves, but I’ve seen very little in the way of employers showing loyalty or goodwill to their employees, even when the businesses have been owned by otherwise nice people who I like outside of work. I’ve also had other people who are scumbags outright not pay me for contractor work because of a misleading verbal agreement, and my piddling student budget can’t afford to take legal action on it. That’s something my generation gets burned by.

        It’s a two-way street. If employers treat me poorly, I’m going to expect they will continue to do this, and take appropriate precautions. It doesn’t mean I’m “disloyal.” That argument in particular seems like a cop-out for employers’ responsibilities.

        I don’t think jobs generally offer the same security they used to. I get that the point is to work your way up the totem pole, but’s a complete luxury to even find a shot at a job that offers benefits, and if we expect that from a job, we’re “entitled.” We should take those unpaid internships and count our blessings that any fool would even hire us, if you can even call it that when there’s no compensation. And then go without healthcare because no compensation.

        Ugh. Now that I’m thinking about it, all of these arguments really say more about the current state of employers than they do about the youngest working generation, which honestly is not all that different than other youngest-working-generations.

      2. Nina

        Same. Any time I did a temp job, it was in the hopes that it would become permanent, and I always stipulated that to the agency.

    3. Elysian

      Yes to all these things. I think millenials ARE more likely to job-hop, but its not because they’re some kind of degenerate generation. It’s because companies aren’t rewarding longevity/”loyalty” like they used to. Plus, given that so many millenials had to jump into non-career-track jobs when the recession hit (if they got a job at all) it makes sense that more of them would be switching to something in their field when the circumstances arise.

    4. Julie

      Right on target. Reasons 1, 2, 3, and 6 are all the reasons I left my past jobs, sometimes not so happily. This is the first time in my life where I’m not actively or passively looking for a different job and it is so comforting. I am almost 30, I own a house, I don’t plan to have kids but I still want stability. If employers want long-term dependable employees they’ll ask themselves why people leave.

      1. Suzanne

        ” If employers want long-term dependable employees they’ll ask themselves why people leave.” Unfortunately, in my experience, this rarely happens. It’s much easier to complain that good, skilled, talented workers mare impossible to find.

        1. HAnon

          And don’t forget that employers would often rather hire people who can “jump right in” and not require training, have multiple years experience, and are willing to take pay lower than the market rate in a desperate job market. Sorry, but unicorns don’t exist. Hard workers who may need some additional training do!

    5. Anx

      I think that witnessing waves of layoffs has had in impact on loyalty, but is only a small piece of the puzzle.

      I think Millenials (and much of GenX) simply haven’t lived in a time where loyalty was highly valued among employers and spent more of their workforce years living in an economy with the traits you list.

      1. neverjaunty

        Yes, this. It’s amazing how rarely the people complaining about ‘disloyal workers’ have an answer to the question “But how can they be confident you will be loyal to them in return?”

      2. Miss Betty

        Add to that even the tail end of the Baby Boomers. That’s a large and diverse generation (1946-1964) and those of us born at the end saw our grandparents work for loyal employers – and retire well – while our parents were just beginning to have that rug yanked from under them, though it wasn’t completely gone, and for us it never really existed.

      3. Retail Lifer

        I’m on the tail end of Gen X, and that’s been true in my case. I’ve experienced nothing but incredibly low raises, if they’re given at all; companies always hiring from outside for higher positions because they’re too lazy/cheap/incompetent to develop their own employees; and a decreasing workforce which means more responsibilties constantly being shifted onto already overwhelmed managers. I tend to switch jobs every 2 years or so. My jobs always seem to get harder and my raises don’t even keep up with inflation. If an employer ever gives me any reason at all to stay, I will. But that hasn’t happened yet.

  2. Laura Renee

    BLESS YOU for writing that post. Signed, a 26-year-old who has only worked at one company after college, is extremely cantankerous about her online privacy (and is also, professionally, a hell of a lot better off than all of her friends who graduated in the same year), and has no interest in managing a company’s social media.

      1. AdminAnon

        We should start a club. Signed, another 26-year-old who has been working happily at the same organization since graduation and is obsessive about online privacy.

      2. hermit crab

        Can I join your club? I’ve been at the same company (where I got my first professional job out of college) for 6.5 years now and have no plans to move on. I also don’t have a smartphone, so there goes an extra stereotype!

        1. LillianMcGee

          Here’s another (but I am closer to 30 than 26…)! I don’t have an internet phone either. I was looking at them because my provider keeps prodding me to upgrade but those things are $500+!!! I got by just fine without one til now, thank you!

    1. OriginalEmma

      Agreed! Except for two short-term jobs when I graduated (in the economic gutter of 2009), I am know happily working for the same company for almost 4 years and foresee working here for many more.

  3. BRR

    Thank you for all of this.

    1) Paying dues now a days seems to mean being drastically underpaid and overworked.
    2) There are people of every generation who need special hand holding and are high maintenance.
    4) Employees aren’t rewarded with great salaries or perks usually for long tenures. Leaving is the only way to work your way up now. I think more people (of every age) would love to not have to job hunt as much.
    5) Once again people of every generation.

    1. Spooky

      1) And that’s if you get paid at all. I would have LOVED to have been making even minimum wage at my first two post-grad positions.

      1. Anonsie

        That’s what I was going to bring up. I graduated at the peak of the recession and I remember being repeatedly told I was being an entitled little brat and who wouldn’t pay my dues because I stopped considering taking new unpaid internships (read: I had done several already) when I was no longer eligible for cheap student housing and needed more money.

        Boy did I get a lot of talking-tos for not being able to work for free full time. I was already working for free part time, but if I had any gumption I guess that should have turned into money at some point.

        1. Anx

          I think another issue with the internship cycle is that I WOULD do free unpaid internships more often, but they are very hard to find in some regions if you are not currently enrolled in a university. I don’t live in my school’s state; there’s no way I’m taking more classes to qualify as a student at out-of-state tuition prices AND paying for my internship. Starting over means new applications ($65 in-state in my home state)
          .
          There’s also the issue of needed to work. In the end, you might end up with neither a job nor an internship, but committing to an internship precludes you from working for a certain length of time.

    2. Amethyst

      1) +1. 99% of the jobs I applied to after graduating were 50+ hours a week at sub minimum wage. When I eventually got hired with a temp agency I was so grateful to them because they had a big thing about paying their people living wage. There is only so long you can stay at a job where you’re living at a poverty level, if you have the opportunity to move to something that pays better.

      My current job not only pays above minimum wage but also gives me PTO and health insurance. This is more than most people in my graduating class (2013) have at their jobs and believe me I have a lot of good feelings for this employer.

      1. fposte

        A tangent, but I’m curious–do you mean you were applying to the restaurant industry or some other place where it’s legal not to pay minimum wage, or were there really that many employers openly breaking the law?

        1. Amethyst

          They were mostly charities, actually, where it is legal to pay below the minimum wage. And yes, some of them were poverty-focused organizations.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Wait, no, it’s not legal to pay below the minimum wage at charities — not unless the work was something like an internship with a stipend.

            1. AnonyMiss

              I think what Amethyst meant was skating by on the lowest salary level you can classify as exempt, and expecting 80+ hours a week, essentially reducing your “hourly rate” to nothing. Add to that how health coverage is still barely affordable to many (but at least, now it’s mandatory? I know I could spend that $250 I pay every paycheck much better…. and that’s after another $250 contributed by my employer!), little or no PTO/vacation time/sick time, and suddenly, you’re in a coveted, bach-degree-required, exempt position with enough money left after paying rent to buy… ramen.

              1. Andraste

                26 year old here and this is my job right now. Expected to work evenings and weekends all the time but paid a very small exempt salary. Ugh. I do have health insurance and technically have PTO but am blocked for taking it. Couldn’t even get off to go to the doctor last week.

            2. Amethyst

              Maybe I just assumed that because they were all charities was why they were allowed to pay so low? Like AnonyMiss says, it was a very low salary plus a very high amount of hours, so it worked out to be below poverty-level wages. It’s been a year since I looked at any of the listings though so I don’t remember more about them unfortunately.

            3. Anonsie

              The same way illegal unpaid internships that are really just employee substitutes have become common, so too have paid internships or “volunteer” or “contractor” positions at nonprofits with tiny stipends that spread out to being sub-minimum wage when compared to actual hours… With varying levels of legality and a lot of fun loopholes to exploit.

              1. PPP

                Is there any legal recourse for the latter situation? I’m 95% certain I was incorrectly classified as an independent contractor, and given the amount of work I was asked to do, my salary very much ended up being well under minimum wage.

                1. neverjaunty

                  Contact a lawyer. Seriously, ASAP, in case you are staring down the barrel of a statute of limitations.

                  It is absurdly common for employers to deliberately violate the law, on the theory that their odds of getting caught and having to pay you are much smaller than the likelihood that they will save a ton of money.

        2. manomanon

          I can’t speak for Amethyst but I came across several positions in my immediate post college job search that were supposedly exempt in the low-mid twenty thousands but then require much more than 40 hours a week in return. These ads were very clear about that in their advertisements so theoretically you knew what you were getting but still.
          I can’t touch on the legality/illegality since I’m not a lawyer and I didn’t ever go for those jobs but it’s fairly common. This article is older but it really illustrates this problem. (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/03/fashion/for-20-somethings-ambition-at-a-cost.html)

        3. Noah

          I assume they were internships with a small stipend. In general it is not legal at for-profit companies but it seems to happen a lot. It is legal at non-profits with some stipulations.

        4. Anx

          Also tangential, but many millenials also work in stipend-based positions whether through AmeriCorps, related programs, or through pursuing an advanced degree.

          1. Anx

            (And of course there’s jobs with a lot of take-home work that you aren’t paid for, like teaching, where you end up making less than minimum wage an hour)

        5. Intrepid Intern

          I’m paid as a contractor, $1,000 pre-tax per month for 40 hours/week. That works out to about $5.55 per hour, which is only about 50% of minimum wage in my area.

    3. Melissa

      +1 I get skeptical when people say that millennials don’t want to “pay their dues,” because what they often mean is that millennials don’t want to work for free for 3 years on “internship” followed by another couple of years making just about minimum wage and sharing an apartment with 4 roommates before actually making decent money.

      I’m a postdoc now and I hope to God that my next move is my last for at least 5-10 years – that would be great! But the reality of the academic market is that a lot of young academics have to move around a lot early in their career before they land somewhere they want to stay.

    1. Adam

      Yep. My current job, which I’ve been at almost five years, when my salary has gone up has been average of about 2% every year. There was at least one year where there was no increase. In the same time, the current apartment I’ve been renting I’ve been at for over two years and in that time the rent has gone up nearly 14%. That is not fun math to do each month.

      1. Dan

        At my first job, it took three annual reviews to get my first pay raise. My lease renewed about a month before reviews were done, so I always had to commit to the rent increase before knowing what my pay would be. I was at the point where my rent had gone up $200/mo, and my paycheck hadn’t. I was busting my butt and doing everything I could to be an excellent employee. I got “lucky” and got my promotion with a 7.5% wage increase. Had that not happened, I would have looked for a different job. You see, it wasn’t my expenses going that “required” me to get paid more. It was that I was actually becoming a more valuable employee and not getting compensated appropriately.

        Two years later, I was laid off and went to another company who started me off 23% better than that company.

        1. Adam

          At my organization the only way to seriously get a raise was to get promoted to something better (which does not happen often). Otherwise everyone tends to get the about the same percentage increase if there is one. I’m not saying that companies should automatically pay more when inflation starts going insane, and merit is definitely important, but it does get irritating when your annual “raise” isn’t even awash with local cost of living. It’s kind of maddening to feel that you finally earned your way to renting your own place sans roommates and one year later the market decides you need to do it again. :/

          1. NoPantsFridays

            Yeah, although to be fair, rents can increase much faster than the general cost of living and definitely inflation. I’ve seen rent increases of 6% per year (wasn’t my apartment, thankfully), which is a lot higher than inflation, and less than our merit increases here (which are 2-3% per year, based on our annual reviews). Looks like your 14% rent increase over 2 years is even steeper! Ouch. At my old place my rent only went up 1-2% per year, wish I could have stayed there haha. (But of course, they didn’t maintain anything and the building was falling apart. And they expected entrance to your apartment at all hours, whether or not you were home, with zero notice, to show tenants your apartment.)

            1. NoPantsFridays

              Oops, obviously, the 6% rent increase is greater than our merit increase, not less than. :)

            2. Anx

              It seems as though it’s the big bills that increase the fastest. Rent, insurance premiums (pre ACA at least), tuition, etc.

    2. Dan

      This gets to be an interesting question. My company is full of math guys and computer programmers, so a very analytic bunch. One person asked the COL issue during an all-hands meeting. The division director said that what they look at is something called “cost of labor” where cost of living is a subjective subcomponent.

      She’s right — some jobs don’t demand/can’t support increasing pay just because cost of living goes up. Take a printing press operator, or some other career that’s becoming obsolete. By strict COL analysis, those guys should be paid a lot of money. But there simply isn’t enough demand for that work, and when there is, they can probably find someone to do it cheaper.

    3. OriginalEmma

      Yes! Paging Mike C. – who I believe brought up the inflation calculator when faced with the claim “I earned $15,000 a year back in 1976 and was grateful for it!”?

      1. Dan

        And my dad’s mortgage in 1985 for a three bedroom house in the upper midwest was $350/mo.

        My rent is $1300 and my student loans are another $800. That all might be my fault, sure, but I still gotta pay the piper.

        1. fposte

          Though his interest on that mortgage was probably like 10%. Not that it evens things out, but there was that too.

        2. Melissa

          It’s not totally your fault. States have been cutting subsidies for higher education and tuition has skyrocketed, so that millennials largely HAVE to borrow money unless they have relatively wealthy parents who can afford to pay 1/4 to 1/3 of their income in college tuition (that’s how much the expected family contribution often is). If I wasn’t on income-based repayment my student loans would be $400 a month.

          1. Adam

            I finally paid off my student loans two months ago. The emotional high I got from that lasted an entire week. It’s so worth it to get out from under that bus!

            1. BRR

              Forget paying them off. I’m going to throw a huge party when I have a positive net worth.

              Congratulations on paying them off!

          2. Stephanie

            +1

            Plus, some private schools raise tuition in an effort to get more tuition dollars and look more elite as in “If it costs $50k/year, it has to be good!” (Alma mater, I am looking at you.)

            1. the gold digger

              Stephanie, I was caught in a weak moment and agreed to help on the fundraising committee (for our mutual alma mater). I have had a few testy conversations with the alumni office since asking how I am supposed to answer the question, “Why has tuition increased tenfold since I was an undergrad?” and “why is our president paid $1.5MM a year, making him one of the ten highest-paid private university presidents, higher than the presidents of Stanford and Harvard, when we do not have a law school or a med school?”

              1. neverjaunty

                Let me guess: because paying each other back-patting high salaries makes the university “competitive”?

        3. MsChanandlerBong

          My parents bought three acres of land for $5,000 in 1978. They then took out a $17,000 mortgage to build a house on that parcel. So for $22K, they got a custom-built house on a nice piece of land. Now it costs about $38,000 to buy one acre of land in their area, never mind build anything on it.

      2. Stephanie

        Yeah, my parents said the same thing.

        “I only made $17,000 at my first job!”
        “Yeah, that was in 1975…”

          1. NoPantsFridays

            “$30,000! I worked hard and found a good deal, unlike those millenials paying 10 times that today!”

            (That’s an anticipated response, I’ve never heard anyone say it thankfully!)

            1. Stephanie

              I live in area with a lot of snowbirds (who I’d guess to be in their 70s) and roll my eyes at some of the grousing and debate if it’s worth interjecting that a lot of their luck was due to fortuitous timing.

            2. Anonsie

              Oh oh I have, I have! I live in an area with some of the highest property values in the country, so whenever something like this comes up I get scolded for not finding cheaper housing.

              Pro tip: I’m either paying more in rent to be within bus-distance of my work in the center of the city, or I’m out in the burbs and paying the same amount for the car and insurance and gas and parking that I don’t already have. It’s gonna cost you either way.

              1. NoPantsFridays

                That’s how it was in my former city where I lived downtown and walked everywhere. No car, no insurance for said car, no gas etc. At least in the city I could walk everywhere instead of sitting on my butt driving everywhere.

              2. neverjaunty

                “Great, how about you find me cheaper housing and then point me to it?”

                With luck you’ll never hear another peep on the subject.

                1. Anonsie

                  I wish. You know how when you’re job hunting, people send you listings for crazy crap totally unrelated to your qualifications?

                  Now imagine how that translates to someone trying to send you property listings when they’ve never been to your city and don’t understand the geography.

        1. OriginalEmma

          Which equates to, what, 60K? I don’t think that’s generally the case just out of college nowadays. except within certain industries.

        2. Cleopatra Jones

          My MIL always tells me how they lived off of $200 a month and raised 3 kids.
          I always laugh and tell her :
          1) it was the late 60’s and the 70’s .
          2)Public school education was cheaper for families. Currently, if your kid plays a sport it costs for almost everything except the uniform. Honestly, if a kid wants to play sports in high school nowadays (at least in my city), they had better been playing little league before they get to HS. Coaches no longer have time to work 1-on-1 with students with potential, they want them already conditioned & having the foundational skills on day 1 of freshman year.
          3) School field trips at my kids’ school cost upwards of $10 every.single.field trip.
          4)Also, when we were growing up there wasn’t internet. My kids were issued Mac books at their schools which means you have to have internet access at home for them to access information and upload their homework assignments.
          5) My in-laws have roughly the same size house as we do. They bought their house in the 60’s for ~$25K, we paid closer to 200K for our house in a similar neighborhood.
          Yeah, so not the same at all.

      3. Steve G

        The inflation calculator I used said that is $61K. That is something to be grateful for!

        My mom is the only person who ever said something similar, and when I looked up the amount, I did think “wow you were getting underpaid!” $65 per week right outside of NYC in 1967. A “real” office job. Inflation calculator says that’s a tad over $10/hr now………

  4. Editrix

    The worst examples of oversharing on social media (from people I know rather than the sensational cases that end up in the news) I’ve seen come from the boomers. The millenials understand that online is forever.

    1. HR Generalist

      +1
      The worst offenders on social media are, in my experience, generally older/boomer generation. I have seen lots of millenials as well but the trend is definitely towards the older folk who “don’t get it”. There will those who just don’t get in every age bracket but most millenials grew up with technology and understand the etiquette and consequences a lot better.

      1. nona

        IMO the worst offenders are people who have social media accounts but don’t want to learn how to use them. Same goes for email. :(

      2. Lanya

        I agree completely. Many of the boomers I know tend to overshare information about their (adult) children’s schedules and personal lives. They also don’t tend to “get” online sarcasm, which I’ve seen lead to very bad, unnecessary online arguments that never needed to escalate to that point…

    2. jamlady

      Oh goodness seriously. My parents alone – love them, but they don’t seem to realize how much they share. My sister and I are both partnered with military so OPSEC is ingrained into our DNA. My dad will post details about our lives and our partners lives right on our walls. My husband’s always like “please delete [insert scarily informative comment] from your wall”. Sigh. Haha

      1. De Minimis

        My parents are the same way, especially my mom.

        I’m GenX and I also notice people in my peer group oversharing [including one who is a military spouse!]

        1. jamlady

          Nooooo! Haha I’ve sounded outright rude to family on Facebook because someone will start a conversation and there’s suddenly 13 cousins wondering why I’ll be here and he’ll be there and where exactly will he be? And then people I don’t even know will be liking their comments. Just because my stuff is private doesn’t mean it stays that way once others access it. It’s scary how many people can see the information and it’s ridiculous that I have people in my life that get mad when I refuse to put it on the Internet.

          Btw, said military spouse could get into serious trouble. And even worse, get her military member into serious trouble. :/ There are exceptions of course, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

          1. De Minimis

            She generally doesn’t share stuff about her husband [his location when on a deployment, etc] but she ALWAYS posts about where she and her children are and what they’re doing.

      2. NoPantsFridays

        That is actually scary. This is why I’m not connected to my parents online beyond email, and they only know one of my email addresses. I’m planning to move shortly and will not inform them of my new address. They’re not bad people or anything, definitely not abusive etc., but they just do not place an importance on safety and privacy. (They also have no boundaries, but that’s a different post.)

        1. jamlady

          They weren’t always this bad. My dad is retired and had a clearance for 30 years – he knows better. I think he just underestimates social media. Like “oh, well we have good privacy policies in place so it should be fine” – little does realize…

    3. Michele

      My mom completely overshares online. If she would just overshare about herself, that would be one thing, but she posts everyone’s business.

    4. Tinker

      Also, I think the really disastrous things have had a significant component of “the person did not appreciate that thus-and-such a sentiment is not as publicly acceptable as it used to be” — open expression of prejudice and the like. Possibly this is enabled by “didn’t quite understand how widely the thing could spread from wherever it was said”, but I sometimes get the impression that if that was known it wouldn’t necessarily change all that much.

      I’ve certainly seen that younger people can have that problem also, if they are from certain cultural enclaves, but it seems like the passage of time is an additional factor in leading people astray.

    5. Steve G

      So true. I would share examples, but don’t want to embarrass my family, but yup – there have been a lot of things you shouldn’t rush to put on the internet put up their by boomers in my family – like “yeah I’m away for 2 weeks!” (security threat, hello! Weren’t you the people that told me leave a light on so it looks like someone is home?).

    6. Stephanie

      I think, too, Facebook was limited to a few colleges (and then expanded to other colleges, but I don’t remember it expanding to everyone until maybe after I graduated) when it started. If you went to college during Facebook’s infancy, you saw firsthand that drama that happened if you overshared on Facebook (“I saw Wakeen listed “it’s complicated” as his relationship status. What does that mean for us?!”).

      1. Lanya

        I miss those days so much…Facebook was a much better place when it was just for people in my own peer group. When it opened up to businesses, moms, dads, and grandparents, it changed forever.

        1. De Minimis

          Ha! We used to say similar things about the Internet as a whole…that it was better when it was mainly college students, government employees, and computer geek type people, and didn’t have anything commercial on it at all.

        2. Stephanie

          I’m mixed. I don’t enjoy the IP statuses purporting to prohibit Facebook from using your pictures or “REPOST THIS IF U LOVE AMERICA!!1111!!!!!!” memes, but I do think it’s better that it’s a little less elitist. For a while, users had to be students or alumni of the Ivy League ‘n’ Friends (which ugh).

      2. OriginalEmma

        It was. It was initially only open to certain students (verified by that .edu e-mail address), gradually opened to other universities (again, .edu e-mail address) and was finally opened to the general public in maybe 2007 or so?

  5. AnonyMiss

    As a Millennial myself, I think Millennials *are* job hoppers, but not so much out of our own accord as necessity.
    When companies need to “cut the fat,” it’s last in, first out – the newest employees get the ax.
    When an offer comes in, all too often, the student loans, the credit cards (used to supplement student loans/grants), the rent, the car payment, the insurance, the health care payment… well, these all tell us to TAKE IT, TAKE IT NOW, can I start yesterday maybe? So when the better position (for career development, for personal reasons, for better pay, for a shorter commute…) crops up 9-10 months down the line, it is more likely that we jump ship.

    The economic reality is just that Millennials (or really, any other new graduate employee) are stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place, and our behaviors may not always be internally directed.

    As to #5 – I swear I primarily see Gen X or older people oversharing on Facebook…. probably 99% of my Millennial friends only share a minimum of themselves or even their interests. I know quite a few (new moms/dads) who don’t even have baby pictures up in protection of the kiddos. There’s probably a number of oversharers to each generation, and it may just be my circle of friends (empirical experimental data may not always be probative), but it seems that Millennials are the least so.

    1. themmases

      I agree. I think the expectations put on Millenials right now to “pay their dues” (work for free as an intern, spend years making so little you need roommates as an adult with raises based on what you “negotiated” as a powerless new grad, entry-level jobs that want 2+ years of experience) are actually quite extreme and unfair– and I say that as someone who’s happy with my own career. I have a hard time faulting people in my circle who have job hopped to where they want to be, and clearly potential employers didn’t mind or they wouldn’t have been able to do it. At times I’ve felt I’m too loyal to employers and too slow to job search, by which time my lower-than-deserved title makes me look bad.

      I also notice mostly older people behaving inappropriately on my social media feeds. I see everything from constant, near stream of consciousness posting to commenting on everything someone does or super old stuff (hi, Mom!) to general status updates that they must know will be inflammatory to many of their friends. However, that could just be because people my age who act like that aren’t my real friends and are easy to hide– it’s harder to hide family.

      1. Tinker

        Yeah, and I also think there’s this sort of dynamic where folks take a “family is different” attitude and don’t feel the need to be polite or respectful toward family in the way they would toward other people. I’ve had relatives say things to me that were — well, let’s say, extremely rude by normal standards — and have outright asked them whether they’d say that to a stranger. To which they replied, no but it’s different because you’re my relative. And likewise, I’ve not applied to the folks who have done that the same social penalty that I would to anyone else who did the same thing, which is to say that I’ve put people in the troll bin for MUCH less, because… well, family? I guess?

        So if you’ve got a Facebook crowd that is mostly your friends and then, say, your family who you mostly think agrees with you and you don’t feel the need to mind your manners around the ones that don’t, it pretty much follows that there’s not much reason to avoid e.g. sharing snarky divisive meme after snarky divisive meme.

      2. AnonyMiss

        I definitely agree with your point… I am reasonably happy with my career overall, but I am still looking to jump ship from my current employer, only about a year in. I took a job in a practice field that did not appeal to me, with an employer whose culture and dynamics are not a great fit for me (although I could not glean this from interviewing… it felt a little bait-and-switch-y, honestly), with a one-hour commute. I recently learned that my internship employer wants me back as full-time and paid, so I am most definitely excited over that! It’s a practice area much closer to me, an atmosphere that I actually enjoy, and a ten-minute *walking* commute. I still feel a little bad about it – I feel like they expended so much effort into hiring and training me, and now we’ll (likely) need someone else.

    2. Bunny

      Very much this!

      I want to save up towards getting married and, one day, owning a home (I know there are arguments on both sides when it comes to renting vs owning, but I don’t expect to retire with much of a nest egg given the current economic reality, no matter how hard I save, so I’d rather not still need to be worrying about paying horrifically inflated rent prices when I’m in my 80s!).

      To be able to do that with any kind of reliability, I need stability. I need full time, permanent, stable employment. I WANT full time, permanent, stable employment, and the first company that gives me the opportunity to advance a career without job-hopping? I will be the most loyal employee they’ve ever had.

      But since my redundancy in ooh… 2011… I’ve been stuck hopping from one temp contract to the next. My partner’s been stuck hopping between zero-hour contracts, and neither of us has been able to expect to have the same job and income for more than about 3 months at a time. Even the permanent staff in the places I’ve worked have all been dealing with redundancies and outsourcing while I’ve been working with them.

      No one – well, most people – don’t like constant economic uncertainty. But when employers make it clear that they value their staff measurably less than they value their yearly bonus, it’s really not surprising that the people in the most vulnerable positions in employment – those lower on the job ladder, newer to the company and more easily replaced – have learned not to give their loyalty to their boss. Your boss wouldn’t even blink to outsource or automate your job if they could, so why should you ever stop actively looking for the next, better, opportunity?

    3. ali

      yep, it’s true. As a Gen X’er, I definitely overshare, and a ton of my friends do too. But we mostly keep it private, don’t share other people’s business, and do have limits. We learned internet privacy from the beginning – bbses, muds, usenet, etc – and we all still assume that today’s social media is the same as it was on those things when in reality it is completely different.

      1. De Minimis

        I disagree somewhat, I think the GenX people who were on the Internet back in the 90s were probably that way, but that’s a smaller group.

    4. Melissa

      Yeah, the social media thing is interesting, because I’m an older Millennial and most of my late 20s/early 30s friends with jobs, families, and kids actually pretty carefully curate their social media. It’s all positive stuff all the time, and very little actual personal information – certainly no check-ins and “gonna pick up my daughter at P.S. 7 today on 125th St; she gets out at 3:30!” kind of stuff. The people who strike me as more likely to do that are people who don’t realize how easy it is for someone to track down that information, who are IME usually 1) baby boomers and 2) teenagers (the oldest of which are millennials, but are doing this as a function of still being a child and not because of their generation).

      1. AnonyMiss

        I know! And it’s always the older people who air their home dirty laundry (usually through drama-queen-ish posts like “Don’t even ask me.” – begging for someone to actually ASK), their political stances (pro- and anti-gun, marijuana, immigration, etc. articles, statuses, pictures, etc.), and sadly, who still propagate the chain-mail-style “Share this if you like America/think veterans need care/love Obama/hate Obama/hate ISIS/insert current trend here.”

        I think ali above hit it on the head – a lot of people who had been around since the beginnings of the internet still think the rules are the same.

  6. Adam

    As a thirty year old who graduated just in time to be on the front line of this trend, I haven’t had people telling me these things to my face with any regularity that I can recall, thankfully. I had no illusions about my first job. I just wanted to get in, work and learn, and pay my bills like a normal adult. Thankfully, I’ve been consistently able to do that, even if I’ve been on the beans and rice diet for a bit longer than I’d like to admit.

    I’m trying to find better work now that I have stable history behind me, because dangit I think I’m worth more than what I’m currently doing. The hard part is my best qualities come from hearing people talk about how diligent a worker and apt a contributor to the team I am. Sometimes I wish I could just send my references over to prospective hiring managers rather than my resume….

    1. themmases

      I had this happen to me the other day. My partner and I are 28 and 27, and we had a person we just met, who was probably 10 years older than us, talk to us at length about how ‘this participation trophy thing is real’ with our generation. Um, cool, so it’s the people who *don’t* need to share their every opinion, no matter how insulting, with a couple of strangers who have been praised too much all their lives? Conversation could not end fast enough.

      1. Olive Hornby

        Ugh, yes. And even if the participation trophy thing were really, well, a thing, it wouldn’t be something to blame millennials for. We weren’t the ones buying the trophies to begin with.

        +1000 for this article.

        1. Adam

          I got a participation trophy for my one year of T-ball when I was real little. A couple years later when I realized what it was I laughed and pitched it in the trash. Saved me the trouble of dusting the pointless trinket when room cleaning time came around.

          1. Tinker

            I got a couple participation trophies for doing the Warrior Dash last year. One of them is a medal that I hang in the kitchen so I can use it as a bottle opener; the other is a horned fake-fur hat that promptly went into my costume bin for LARP.

            Strangely, nobody ever seems to bat an eye at the trinket packages for mud runs and the like, and if they did I’d suggest that they are kind of missing the point.

        2. Helka

          The participation trophies were always more for the parents than the kids, in my opinion — though that’s at a remove, because I certainly never got one! In fact, what I remember of most of my activities as a kid was a whole hell of a lot of ferocious competition.

          1. BananaPants

            Our young children are in a couple of activities, including swim lessons through our city parks & rec department. Our preschooler gets a certificate that’s actually a checklist of skills and tells the parents what level they should register for in the next session, so it’s pretty useful. The toddler is in parent/child lessons and we get a “participation certificate” on the last lesson of every session – like a baby or toddler really cares? It’s totally for the parents! Our older daughter got a participation medal for ballet last year after the recital. I felt like WE deserved a medal for sitting through the interminable recital (especially with a squirmy baby on my lap) all for a 2 minute pre-ballet routine in a $65 costume, but she loved her medal, so whatever.

            (Note: I still dutifully save these certificates and awards in their memory boxes. Even though I’ve never cared about my own childhood trophies/awards as an adult, I still keep them for the kids just in case they want to see them someday – or on the extreme off-chance that one of them becomes an Olympian or otherwise famous.)

        3. Stephanie

          Plus, I think we all knew the participation trophies were bullshit (or my friends and I all did).

          1. Adam

            Kids may not be experienced, but they are so much smarter and more observant than the adults give them credit for. At one point “scoreless” games were a thing in kids’ soccer leagues, thinking it would eliminate the “Winners vs. Losers” scenario. Kids kept score all by themselves.

            1. Kelly L.

              Yeah–my nephew is in a scoreless basketball league, and yet everybody knows who’s really “winning.” Even if you don’t have an exact count, even little kids can get an idea of which team is playing better.

          2. Elsajeni

            Yeah, my big “participation trophy” memory is from swim team and, you know, I did kind of appreciate getting a ribbon for coming in 12th place — but it never fooled me into thinking I had come in first.

            1. Kai

              Same with the handful of trophies and ribbons I got for participating in soccer or an art competition or what have you. I knew they didn’t mean much.

              1. Otter box

                My favorite participation award was for a cake decorating contest I entered at school in maybe 6th grade. It was a ribbon that said “I Did My Best,” as though my best was still clearly not good enough. I was SO insulted!

            2. KarenT

              I always felt it was adding insult to injury. The ribbons came in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Most Improved, and Participation. I remember asking my dad if they gave one to everyone, and when he said yes I was like, “then why would anyone want it!”

              1. Elsajeni

                True! Part of why I liked my swim team ones was that they actually did say “12th Place” on them — I was far from great, but I did gradually improve from consistently coming in 12th to consistently coming in, like, 7th, and I appreciated seeing even that minor achievement reflected in my ribbons. A true participation ribbon wouldn’t have been as good, because I’d have kept getting the same one unless I managed to improve all the way up to 3rd place, which was clearly not in the cards.

        4. Melissa

          I actually read an article that pointed that out one time. It was basically like “If Millennials are spoiled and entitled because of the participation trophies, it’s YOUR fault, Baby Boomers. You’re our parents. Duh.”

          1. Adam

            Sounds like the old comedy bit. When the child is amazing she’s “My daughter.” When she’s utter chaos she’s “Your daughter.”

          2. KarenT

            I throw that one around sometimes. I did once tell a co-worker who was on a rant about millenials that “your generation created my generation!”

      2. Steve G

        Gag me with a spoon. But I did see a 35yo giving a very similar speech to a 28yo once. I knew more about both than they knew about eachother. They weren’t aware how close they were in age when he was pontificating at her. Once the older person left, I told the younger one “you do know he is only 6 1/2 years older than you, right?!” We both couldn’t stop laughing……

        1. NoPantsFridays

          I’ve seen someone younger condescendingly pontificating at someone older about “When you get to be my age…”, “One day you’ll understand when you’re a little older…”, and “When I was your age…” Goes back to that “looking young” discussion…

      3. Tinker

        Heh, I once had a guy who was about ten years older than me tell me that I’d agree with his political beliefs when I grew up. Asked him just what he was asking for there, as I was 30 and had about all the markers of adulthood that would be sufficient for non-assholes. The sputtering afterward basically amounted to: I would have grown up when I agreed with him. Well then.

        1. Steve G

          You just made me laugh out loud. Wish I was a fly on that wall because I’m sure you were not havin’ none of that nonsense. People like that nitwit need to realize that younger people will come to you for advice if you have something valuable to give them, not nitwitisism.

      4. Anx

        I think there is an effect participation trophies and ribbons may have on Millenials, but I don’t think it’s a uniformly coddling one.

        I saw a post on Tumblr once that perfectly articulated my thoughts on the matter. I’m torn between repeating it, because Tumblr culture is so insular and it wasn’t an academic or advocacy Tumblr user that posted it (as far as I know).

        Basically, participation trophies and ribbons don’t make you’re think you’re awesome. They may make you hyper-aware of your failures and mediocrity and make it very hard to trust praise. I know for me, I was painfully aware of my lack of athletic ability.

        1. Steve G

          The whole discussion of trophies doesn’t make sense to me. I got a few for sports in my tweens in the early 90s and never thought about them. The ones you got for participation were tiny. You had to be able to do impossible athletic feats to get a “real” trophy. Also, my school had an awards dinner for sports, and they called the real athletes up and gave them awards for various things.

          When I look back on those event, I see that they were about small town fun and an excuse to have a buffet and catered deserts, NOT about making every “snowflake feel special.” THAT was something made up 20 yrs later by the media.

          1. Anx

            I wasn’t thinking about the banquets, but those did exist in my town as we got older.

            In high school I did win an award for sports despite being horrendous. I did end up winning a hall of fame award despite a lack of athleticism due to sportsmanship (very few graduating seniors did that sport that year).

  7. Brett

    #4 I wonder if millennial perception of job hopping is different even if they are not more likely to job hop?
    e.g. while older generations perceive job hopping as being a huge red flag, do millennials perceive it as more normal professional behavior? (And thus see less disincentive to job hopping, even if they are no more likely to do it?)

    1. Adam

      As others have pointed out I think for many of them it’s been more logistical than anything. They don’t really want to do X but the rent doesn’t care where the money comes from and an inexperienced new job candidate can’t afford to be too choosy at first. And when it’s become evident that most employees these days don’t feel much loyalty towards their employers and there don’t seem to be too many reasons to stay in a job that overall they aren’t happy with, when a better opportunity comes up just about everyone’s going to jump on it if they can.

    2. Brett

      I should clarify that I mean how millenials perceive job hopping specifically in others, not themselves.
      Among my circle of tech sector Gen X friends, I have noticed that job hopping is perceived relatively harshly. Considering most of them work in Silicon Valley, a surprising number of them consider it a major red flag to work less than 2 years at an employer.

    3. Helka

      I think it becomes a more normal professional behavior when significant raises are hard to achieve; if you can’t get more than a 2% increase in your current job, but you can change jobs and get a 15% increase, then your choice becomes pretty obvious. And workers who started their careers during the recession desperately need to make up the starting salary hit they took at the beginning of their careers.

    4. jamlady

      I think industry is important with this. My industry is contract work until you reach mid-level (which requires an MA, 5-7 years of experience, and an extra “oomph” that sets you apart because there are very few jobs). It’s been this way for a long time – I’m a millennial but I’ll be doing equal pay contract work with boomers. My resume is expected to look like it does. In fact, employers actually notice my longest contract (11 months) and are surprised I was able to find anything that long (especially being a millennial and assumed “less experienced”). I have worked outside of my industry for specific software experience needed for mid-level work in my industry and they’ve come across my kind before and it doesn’t worry them. They’re entry-level jobs for this other industry anyway – they don’t expect people to stay long when being experienced in this software moves you up fast.

    5. Melissa

      I think we do have a more nuanced perception of it – we realize that there’s more to it than simply moving around a lot. I mean, changing well-paying jobs every 6 months for the past 5 years? Probably unreliable. But sometimes the “job hopping” is really moving from a long-term unpaid internship into a paid one, or actually working two part-time jobs at the same time, or changing positions because they could no longer afford to live on the low salary of Job #1. (For that reason, I think we are also a little more forgiving of stepping out of your field/career. Sometimes it’s necessary to feed yourself.)

    6. ThursdaysGeek

      As a member of an older generation, I was told at least 25 years ago that it was recommended that I change jobs every 2-5 years so that I would get the pay raises that went along with that. Has anything really changed? Other, of course, than the necessity for a new worker now to change jobs in order to get up to a living wage, after you leave the unpaid internships and part time jobs!

    7. Steve G

      This is one area where I feel like a millennial. I agree that you are pointing out something under-discussed here.

      As one of the 1st millenials:-) in my mid 20s when I moved back to NY I noticed a lot of crappy salaries for low level jobs going around. So I job hopped. BUT each new employer understood why I did it. That is where I feel like I was different from other generations. Everyone significantly older than me kept telling me I’d be screwed if I job hopped, but it didn’t turn out that way.

  8. RP

    I appreciate you sharing this. People love to hate on millennials, so it’s refreshing to see another approach.

    I think another aspect of point 2 is that job training is now virtually non-existent, especially for entry-level jobs. At a previous job, I was handed a list of passwords for social media accounts to manage and a few links to industry-related articles, and that was the extent of my training!

    1. Adam

      A couple months ago Alison posted a good article about how employers just don’t want to train anymore.

      https://www.askamanager.org/2015/01/employers-want-workers-who-they-dont-have-to-train.html

      It seems we’ve gotten into a vicious circle. Employers don’t want to train because they think it’s too expensive/figure they’ll get burned when employees go to better opportunities, and employees can’t move up or even get in because work ethic doesn’t count for much when employers want new people who can hit the ground running.

    2. OriginalEmma

      And when employers do want to train, they dump resources into CBTs and other forms of online training. Which is fine, if that’s your learning style, but I don’t know how effective it is overall. There’s a reason why brick-and-mortar education remains a hallmark of learning!

    3. Julie

      I’m on job 6 or 7 now and this is the first job I’ve had training on. I’ve always just taken it upon myself at old jobs to create some sort of manual or quick guide to what I do once I figure out what I do. Then I leave it for my replacement. That was the best I felt I could do at those places.

      My first two days were just training and meeting people. Each month I get emailed a schedule of training classes I can take if I want to freshen up or learn something new. It was a huge indicator that this just might be a business that has its act together. It’s not perfect but it is indicative of the fact that they want successful employees.

    4. Suzanne

      Exactly! I graduated from college in the early 1980s. Big corporations had extensive training programs (& paid internships, if you can believe it!) My first job in high school was a cashier job for which I had a week of training-how to work the cash register, run credit cards, customer service, and practice, practice, practice).
      Not any longer! I’m certainly not a millennial, but I have job hopped the past few years because of horrid work environments with virtually no training whatsoever, training even as minimal as where the copier is and how it works. It is very wearing to spend hours everyday spinning your wheels, knowing you are being evaluated on a job that you don’t understand.

      Truly, I do not believe Millennials are slackers, but they, like anyone else, are not going to work hard if they have no clue what they are supposed to be accomplishing or how to accomplish it.

      1. Anx

        “It is very wearing to spend hours everyday spinning your wheels, knowing you are being evaluated on a job that you don’t understand.”

        +1

      2. Steve G

        Training?! That’s a waste of $$$! Put people at the desk now so we don’t lose that week of productivity!!!

        Last job had me cold call potential channel partners on day #1. I was like…mmm……I don’t even know what the f*** “we” do. And I still got no training. And they wondered why I “did nothing” the first three or four weeks.

        1. Suzanne

          Yes, Steve G! And why is this so darn difficult for employers to grasp?!?! I had one employer who wanted to know how I would reconfigure the workspace in my area for better workflow…the first week I was there. At that point, I didn’t even have a computer and really had no idea what my duties involved (not that I ever really did figure out what exactly my responsibilities were). So how could I understand the best workflow? Didn’t matter. My employer thought I needed to do it, so I spent (wasted) some time trying to figure it out.

  9. Ali

    I have the worst time with the dues paying thing and the training. I was told when going into a similar line of work compared to what I do now (sports PR from a journalism employer where I was working as an editor) that I’d still have to do a low-paid or non-paid internship because that’s what it took to get in the door. I found it frustrating because I’d already been working full-time and had earned a promotion, never mind starting at my current job AS AN UNPAID INTERN, only to be told that I would have to intern yet again because that’s the way it is. I’m still at my current job, and also work part-time doing social media work for a small company, and when I go on interviews, recruiters still won’t pass me to hiring managers because either they say I lack experience, or the hiring manager won’t talk to me because I don’t have the experience he/she wants.

    I’ve checked in with some other contacts on my issues to make sure I’m not missing red flags in my background. The three I can think of offhand have told me I don’t have a bad attitude, that my personal social media isn’t offensive and that I seem to be doing the right things in regards to networking and trying as hard as I can in my present role. Yet my last two promising interviews I was passed over for the experience issue, and these weren’t jobs that were really far out of my reach. I really want a chance to leave my current job (where I’ve been for five years almost and now my boss is trying to axe me) and prove myself elsewhere, but I’m still running into problems because employers are still very picky.

    1. Dan

      Do you know anything about the backgrounds of the people who are getting those jobs?

      I understand your frustration. There’s a couple of employers for whom I have a “perfect” background for, but I can’t get calls back from them. Apparently my background ain’t so perfect ;)

  10. Lauren

    This is great! I really appreciate it. There have been a lot of controversial articles over on Linkedin recently around millenials and a lot of them echo these stereotypes. I think articles like these help put them to rest as much as possible.

  11. hephep

    Spot on. I’m not a millennial, but I’ve certainly noticed the trend to whisper millennial like it’s a dirty word. Millennials have tons to offer, and at the very least tons of potential. Like Alison said, any generation entering the workforce needs some coaching. And certainly there will be many of this generation entering the workforce who have maturity and professionalism in spades beyond some that are a part of the workforce today. I’d venture to guess most people have had one, if not multiple encounters with workers of other generations who give you pause, and you ask yourself how on earth they got their job. A broad generational label certainly can’t account for every individual experience for those that came/are coming of age in it. I say this with a lot of admiration and respect for the generations that came before. I love learning new things from both generations past and those to come. I look forward to the innovation and contributions of the next generation!

  12. Michelle

    While I absolutely love this post and agree. I have one minor quibble. I know the birth year for millennials is debated, but it seems the general consensus is that the millennial generation begins with those born around 1980/1981/1982. Everyone born in those years is over 30. So some millennials are in fact over 30.

    1. De (Germany)

      I came here to say this as well. Millenials might be as old as 35 by now! That’s old enough to have a college degree and 10 years of job experience. Or/and several kids. Or/and successfully led your own company for many years. Millennial does not equal “that kid just out of college”, but lots of people seem to treat it that way.

      1. Melissa

        Although I am under 30, I have to agree with this, which is why I am always baffled when I see articles that claim that “millennials” grew up with social media. I’m 28; Mark Zuckerberg is only a year older than me, and Facebook was invented when I was a freshman in college. I remember sending emails to the Facebook staff bugging them to put my college on Facebook because back then they had to manually add your college to the network before you could sign up. Lol. Most of my friends are in long-term relationships, getting/are married, and several are having children; most have graduate or professional degrees too!

        1. Anonathon

          I was going to say the same thing! I’m a millenial, but hardly grew up with social media. Unless you count AOL instant messenger. Facebook was invented my freshman year of college and functioned very differently for awhile there (no photos, no newsfeed). I only got a Twitter account a few years ago, specifically for work, and I don’t have Instagram at all. That’s pretty different from an 18-year-old who’s had a smart phone since age 12. Yet another example of why generational labels are kinda silly …

        2. Ruth (UK)

          I am 26 and have a cousin who is 34. Even though we’re both ‘millenians’ (she’s 1981) and not really that far apart in age, she has said before (and I agree) that we have quite a large generation gap between us. I was on the internet as a teen aged 15/16 and things like facebook were well underway by the time I went to uni (note I worked for a couple years between school and uni so I’m actually a 2012 graduate). She didn’t really get on the internet until post-university.

          So I really did grow up with social media (I was active on various internet forums etc), from my teen years, while she spent her teens playing the original (non colour) game-boy.

          She feels more similar to the people who were born in the 70s than the people born in the early 90s etc in terms of generation gap when it comes to things like social media etc.

          (also, despite the fact people often claim 1981 is the lower DOB limit, I really do think people are picturing people no older than those born in about 1987/8 when they say ‘millenial’).

    2. Lizzy

      I have been seeing articles related to Millennials in the workplace since the early to mid 00’s. Yet a lot of literature out still talks about them as if people 30 and over are generations removed from them. As a Millennial nearing 30, it always makes me feel displaced, lol.

      1. KerryOwl

        Yeah, I was born in 1978, so I’m too old to be a Millennial, and was too young to be Generation X. I feel so unmoored!

        1. Voluptuousfire

          We’re the Catalano generation (78-81). Not old enough for Gen X, toon old for Millenial.

        2. JoJo

          I know the feeling. I was born in the early 60’s which makes me too old for GenX but I have absolutely nothing in common with the Woodstock generation.

    3. Steve G

      I think AAM was being “generous” here, knowing that this is a bone of contention. We had a discussion a couple of months ago on a weekend open thread about this. I am 1981, my siblings 1980 and 1978. I consider “my generation” my cousins born between 1970 and 1992, but that is too long of a range to analyze as a cohesive generation in a demographic sense.

      I think if I was going to add a #6, I’d say “not all millenials grew up the same.” Me and my sisters grew up on everything totally 80s and early 90s….and then were teens in the 90s……..but later millenials did indeed grow up socializing on the web and texting. No waiting by the radio with cassettes b/f mp3, and they grew up with more instant access to information, which has to change the way people live, at least a tiny bit (and hopefully for the better).

      I think many “millennial” articles act like the things that are attributable to millenials happened earlier than they did. I also think they are re-writing history and acting like certain technologies had impacts before they actually did as well. Personally, I remember technology changing a lot in 2001. That’s when a lot of people got email addresses, internet at home, their first cell phones, and naspter rose to fame. But I don’t remember becoming dependent on those things until 2004/2005. When I was home from school for 3 day weekends until I graduated in 2003, I almost never logged into the internet. There was not too much to look at, and not enough people were emailing to warrant obsessively checking it. But now “millennial” articles act like everyone has been on the net since 1995. Not true!

      OK, I’m gonna get off my soap box:-)

      1. fposte

        But “Millennials–Really Varied People, Like the Rest of Humanity” isn’t nearly as enticing as “Those Young Whippersnappers!” as a title.

    4. BananaPants

      Yeah, there’s some overlap in the tail end of Gen X and the start of the Millennials/Gen Y. I was born in ’81, so I’m now officially in my mid-30s, have been in the post-college workforce for over a decade, am married and have two kids and a mortgage. I don’t feel at all like I fit with the stereotypical Millennials, but I also don’t really fit with much of GenX either.

      1. Steve G

        We should start our own generation. I wouldn’t mind being labelled a millennial if the description resonated with me. I think “my generation” would be defined by:

        1) Grandparents were strong personalities because they served in WW2 and grew up in the Depression
        2) Parents of the “hippie” age
        3) Last generation to not be shaped by the internet and RT access to information. Last group to learn the duey decimal system to look up books, grow up without internet at home, cell phones, etc.
        4) Generation that saw shift in music technology from records to cassettes to CDs pretty quickly
        5) Shaped by rapidly changing times and culture, 1st important news story they understand is the fall of communism, experience the shift from more conservative TV shows in the mid-late 80s to more permissive TV language and content as they grew into teens in the 90s
        6) Experienced social phenomena develop as tweens such as drug education, the dawn of self-esteem classes in school, the decline in religious affiliation in the US, the obesity epidemic, affirmative action, grunge/rave/goth/hip hop subcultures going mainstream………..

        1. Steve G

          Disclaimer: by now means am I trying to insinuate I am smarter/older/more experienced than I am in this. I feel/look really young. But I think “my generation” is one of many that experienced rapid change in a short time, and I think that a lot of the millennial articles out there only focus on the minor post-2000 aspects of that.

  13. Michele

    I am Gen-X, but I think Millenials have gotten doubly screwed. It first happened when the economy was booming. The people already in the workforce were constantly told how special this next batch of workers were going to be and how we were going to have to meet their demands, no matter how irrational they were. At the same time, because the economy was booming, Millenials didn’t have to get jobs to work their way through high school and college the way previous generations had. I do think there was a brief spike in recent college grads coming into the work force with unrealistic expectations because they had never worked before. At my job, we had a spate of new hires who really had no grasp of how to conduct themselves at work. This ingrained the bad image that the media had been pushing.

    Then the economy tanked. Millenials adjusted their expectations, but the older folks already in the market didn’t. Millenials were still seen as entitled, even though they were scrounging for unpaid internships just so they could get a foot in the door. There they are, stuck with a bad reputation in a bad economy. I really don’t see the same attitude from new hires that the graduates 8-10 years ago had, though.

    Also, the hand-holding complaint really bothers me. Who hasn’t wanted someone to guide them their first year or two at work? I would have loved to have a mentor, and I think that I would have been a much better employee if someone had shown me the ropes instead of making me figure them out on my own.

    1. OriginalEmma

      I was fortunate to have a part-time job (two, at one point) in high school and balanced several part-time jobs at once while in college. As I understand it, I might be a rarity because folks younger than me just could not find that first part-time job – that foot in the door. Those first jobs are so important for instilling behaviors and attitudes that you cannot learn in school (reliability, customer service, taking direction, etc.)

      Part of it, I’m wondering, might be due to the collapse of industries traditionally employing teenagers (e.g., music stores, etc.) combined with the multitude of non-teenage people gobbling up these low wage jobs.

      1. Michele

        Many years ago when I had finished grad school, I interviewed with a company that wanted to know my entire job history, going all the way back to babysitting. I thought it was strange. Then I started noticing that when we get new graduates who have bad attitudes at work, they never had any kind of job before, and it was because their parents didn’t think they should have to work while they went to school. Now I ask about all of the horrible jobs cleaning or working fast food or anything else that someone had to do when I interview them. Those jobs stink, but they do help develop a work ethic and an understanding of how workplaces operate.

        1. Anonsie

          That can be a double-edged sword though, picking up work as a high school student isn’t equally available to everyone. That might edge out some of the folks who think they’re too precious to have a menial job, but it’s also going to edge out people who had other life hurdles that precluded that commitment (reliable transportation, caring for family members, struggling enough in school already) that they might not want to talk about in an interview.

      2. Anx

        Hm. I was just thinking how I don’t remember learning to conduct myself properly in any of my early jobs.

        But I grew up with parents that owned retail store. I’d worked pretty much my whole life UNTIL I graduated college.

    2. Steve G

      True, except I need to correct one misconception, as a millennial/genx cusp.

      “millenials didn’t have to get jobs……..” but they definitely did! I know lots of people who made hundreds of dollars per week doing part time work in HS. It just didn’t seem like alot in comparison to our parents, etc. because everyone seemed to be making alot, at least here. Maybe it was a NY thing. IDK. So while it’s true that early millenials didn’t have to work, precisely because the economy was booming, we all did. There were SO MANY high paying low level jobs. I jumped between a union grocery store job, a restaurant, dog sitting, and PA-ing. These jobs, though, as you hint, didn’t prepare “us” for anything though.

  14. Ed

    Personally, I see the entitlement thing often enough to get why it is a stereotype. It doesn’t apply to all millennials of course but that’s why it is just a stereotype. When I see it I think ‘more power to them’. They often get away with complaining about entry-level work and skip the more mundane tasks. It makes me jealous that my generation (GenX) didn’t try it. I certainly would have done it if I thought it would work.

    1. Melissa

      Who is they? And how can you be sure that those aren’t just individual traits of a few Millennials you have observed (which also might be prevalent in Baby Boomers and Gen Xers you haven’t observed) rather than something that’s endemic to the generation?

    2. neverjaunty

      I take it you’ve forgotten that the same dumb stereotypes were leveled at us as young people? How GenXers were ‘slackers’ with no work ethic who were foolishly content to diddle around at low-paying jobs and to job-hop rather than jump on the career ladder and our parents spoiled us?

      What you’re doing is not observing an actual trend so much as confirming you’re on the Old Fogey Train.

  15. Sascha

    I hope Millennials remember this years from now when they are the generation in charge. :) My biggest beef with the whole Millennial things is related to #2 – that their inexperience in the professional world is because their generation is somehow different, as opposed to just being younger and less experienced. I’m a Gen Xer and I can remember plenty of embarrassing things I did when I first started working! Same goes for my baby boomer parents, and even my grandparents have told me stories of goofy things they did when they were younger.

  16. L Veen

    Thank you for this! I had two twenty-something colleagues whose attitudes toward their jobs soured considerably during their time here, because they had heavy workloads of grunt work and no possibility for advancement – both eventually left for higher-ranking positions in the same field. All I heard from the managers in our division was “Young people these days don’t understand they need to pay their dues” “Millenials have such a sense of entitlement” etc. and then a quick “Oh but YOU’RE not like that, you’re an exception” directed at me in the rare event that they remembered I’m the same age as the two.

    The truth was that (1) their manager was ineffectual (2) their sector only had enough money for two junior positions, so obviously the moment anyone gets enough experience to qualify for a senior position they’re going to get out of here.

    I was so sick of my entire generation being blamed for what are essentially institutional problems.

    1. Adam

      I’m not sure people who continually spout about “Paying your dues” actually knows what it means anymore. They worked the low-end job long enough to earn experience that convinced some other employer to hire them into a better position. How is that not paying your dues? What were they supposed to do? Continue to work a boring-low-salary job for several more years just to say “Thank you for hiring me!”?

      1. Ali

        I agree! My boss has had an axe to grind lately and told me I have no room to grow in the company and that he won’t let me work on any of my goals until he’s happy with my performance. But he still expects me here every day giving him 110% and working hard with a smile. I’ll put in my best effort, of course, but how do you expect anyone to hang around and give it their everything when you tell them something like that to their face?

        1. Adam

          Figures. If you hire me for a job I will do said job as best as I can since I committed to that. I will also do additional work I didn’t sign on for because I believe in helping out and advancing. But if you continue to pile stuff on my plate while telling me I shouldn’t expect any further benefits/rewards, you really shouldn’t be surprised/butthurt when I eventually leave.

          1. James M.

            “Butthurt” is one of the most obnoxious terms to ever come into common use. But more importantly, it perfectly describes the kind of person who perpetuates these stereotypes about millennials (and other groups).

              1. fposte

                I think like any term it can be used obnoxiously, but I really like “butthurt.” It’s a great summation of that kind of indignation and wounded vanity that I think we all can get up to now and then.

  17. MashaKasha

    I think the job-hopping is a necessary evil for anyone who’s starting a new career, not just the millennials. It’s just that millennials are more likely to be starting a career than an older person. But whatever your age, the odds of becoming a senior or a manager at a dinky mom-n-pop shop that was the only place willing to hire you with no experience – for an entry-level position, or for an “unpaid internship”, whatever that new ridiculous thing is – are pretty slim. I’m GenX, came to the US at 30 married with kids, and I had to change jobs three times in the first three years – just because my first three jobs were all entry-level/junior-level positions at little rinky-dink companies, that I was overqualified for. (I don’t think these three companies even exist anymore.) Once I found myself in a position that matched my education, prior experience, and skillset, I stopped moving around so much.

  18. Anna G

    Thank you, Alison! As a generation straddler (1980 baby) I’m seen as both gen-x and millennial, depending on the room. It gets old: both hearing how Kids These Days love to job hop, and how as a “kid” (???) I’m the go-to for handling the institutional facebooking. Also, whenever anyone breaks out the “me” generation stuff, I guess no one remembers Tom Wolfe: http://nymag.com/news/features/45938/

  19. Stephanie

    I think, too, there’s a perception in the media that all millennial workers are all underemployed liberal arts grads (who were traditional students) who can’t put down their iPhones and expect $70k at their first post-grad job. There plenty who don’t fit that mold.

    1. fposte

      It’s like Lena Dunham’s “Girls” matters more than the actual people they must know.

  20. _ism

    Glad to see a flurry of articles lately about not assuming too much about Millennials.

    Lately, my overthinking brain has been wondering whether I should label myself a Gen-X’er or a Millennial because I was born in 1980 right on the cusp of the two. And then I got into wondering if my workplace proximity associates see me as one or the other, because I’m always told by the Boomers I work with that I look a full decade younger than I really am.

    And these articles are totally reminding me that IT DOES NOT MATTER. Why do I need to label myself?! Some people are going to label me, or they aren’t, and while I can’t do much about it, I can just remember that it doesn’t matter.

  21. ism

    Yes, the market has changed so much since my parents were starting their careers. Job seekers change their strategy for education and career based on the market and what they experience as available to them, and it’s just a very different set of circumstances than what my parent’s generation followed. And so much of their well-meaning advice just doesn’t fly these days – Alison has many many articles about this kind of thing.

    1. ThursdaysGeek

      And yet, many things are common across generations. When I graduated from college in 1985, the economy was bad where I lived and I had to work at a minimum wage job doing non-computer stuff for a couple of years, before I could get my foot in the door at something slightly related. It took 4 years before I got a job using my degree. I was told that moving from job to job was the only way to move up. When I sent out resumes most places never responded at all. I’ve never been eligible for a pension, just a 401-K.

      Some things change. Some things stay a lot the same.

  22. Maxie

    I am a Gen-X er, and when we started working, no one was all that excited about us, either. :)

    1. Michele

      The difference is that the entire time we were growing up, the media was filled with stories about how much our lives would suck. We were going to be the first generation to do worse than our parents and it was our fault. Then the media did a complete 180 for Gen-Y. They were all superstars and we would bow to their whims. Us Gen-Xers have always resented that.

      1. Brett

        Now I am having flashbacks to that awful book “13th Gen” that basically said everything wrong is the fault of the Gen-Xers because it was their job to save us all.
        (Which I now realize was written by the exact same pair of researchers who coined the “Millennial” concept.)

      2. puddin

        Totally on board with this analysis. As a Gen Xer, I KNEW that my life was going to be more difficult than my parent’s. And it has been. I have a huge ole stereotypical – nearly unhealthy – grudge against Boomers for the reasons we will not be able to ‘achieve’ – not its not my fault, it is theirs. *Places blame solely at the feet of a 60 year old*

        This is compounded by my being sucked in by the Millennial stereotypes listed in the article. (My Millennial family memebers are not convincing me that the stereotypes are not true. I hope in time, they will.)I feel like Gen X is getting swallowed up between the two. Not an accurate representation of life, I know. But a composite of my feelings about the generations at this moment.

        So now, the Boomers are not retiring and the Millennials are superstars. Where does that leave me in the career equation?

      3. Kelly L.

        For me, my X-ness has given me a lot of sympathy for Millennials, because I recognize a lot of the criticisms as just being warmed-over versions of criticisms lobbed at us. Millennial-hate presses my buttons something fierce, and I sometimes have trouble explaining it since I’m a little older.

        1. neverjaunty

          Me too. I usually find it’s easy to explain with “Stop whining about kids today, Gramps.”

  23. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

    I work with a ton of millennials and have two of them for grown children and don’t know where any of this comes from. If anything, I’d characterize this cohort as exceptionally nice and open, easy to work with, comfortable with multiple generations.

    My stereotype might actually be true, but I don’t hear many people talking about it. (I have seen it written up at least once somewhere and I said, yep, that one seems to be true.)

    1. Windchime

      Yep, I have two of them as grown children as well as a daughter-in-law in the same age range. They have all struggled like mad for YEARS to get jobs that will allow them to just live independently. One of my kids was cut down to less than 10 hours a week (!); I don’t care who you are, there is no way to get by on that. He finally moved to a more populated area and is finally able to support himself, but there is nobody who works harder than this kid. My other child works in a difficult, thankless job that took months of training and is really complicated, a job that he really likes– but he’s looking for something else because the pay is $14/hour and between student loan payments and commuting costs, he’s barely breaking even.

      So yeah, I’m confused where the entitlement thing comes from. Oh, another thing–I was in 4H in the 60’s and we all got ribbons at the fair. Every single person. So that’s not exactly a new thing, either.

      1. jamlady

        My sister worked for a very well-known organization that got through low funding by organizing stipends for cheap labor. She couldn’t afford to eat and had to apply for food stamps. She had an MA but she was getting blocked left and right by her organization and by the same person who ended up sexually harassing her for months. The organization wouldn’t do anything about it, so she got a lawyer and said organization brought in someone new who cleaned house, recommended her for a job at a different organization, and then came to her new office to personally apologize on behalf of the company. Way too many years of that struggle despite her experience and education – I throw that in people’s faces when they say millennials don’t work hard and are entitled brats. My sister’s amazing.

  24. BananaPants

    I’m on the GenX/Millennial cusp (maybe technically one of the older Millennials, having been born in ’81). I have a couple of younger Millennial coworkers and have found them to be really hardworking, conscientious engineers who are eager to learn and prove themselves. There’s not much of a sense of entitlement, although I know some things have been interpreted as such by older managers. I share their lack of company loyalty, which seems to perplex workers in their 50s and upward – most of whom who just don’t get that the world is no longer one in which you can reasonably expect to work for the same company for 40 years and get to retire with a pension and a gold watch. One of them left for greener pastures last month and some managers seemed shocked that he’d “job-hop”, but those of us in our 20s and 30s were happy for him to have found something better.

    I feel for younger Millennials. Several younger coworkers went to the same state university I attended but graduated 8-10 years after I did. They have much higher student loan debt at higher interest rates than I had (I consolidated at a historic low) and graduated into a far tougher job market. I’ve been working with a 23 year old colleague who graduated last year, and he’s living in a low rent apartment with a roommate and driving a car nearly as old as he is. And he’s one of the lucky ones as an engineer; he was able to get a decent job with benefits in his field.

    1. Anx

      A few weeks ago I read an article which used “bubble” millennials to describe the first wave of millennials and “recession” millennials to describe those that graduated college into the height of the recession. I don’t know if that latter also applies to people who didn’t intend to go to college and graduated high school during the same period.

      I don’t know what the more recent wave of millennial grads would be labeled as.

  25. Not telling

    In the past two years I have heard each of the millenials in my office, on separate occasions, express the sentiment: “I’ll do anything you ask but I will NEVER volunteer to do anything.”

    I’m sure there are exceptions but by and large my observations of millenials is that they are not self-starters. They are the helicopter-parent generation; they grew up with play scheduled and orchestrated by parents. Excuse me. Not play. “Sensory activities”. In the working world, my observation is that this translates to people who work hard and are diligent and conscientious…but only at the things that they are told to do, and only in the way that is spelled out for them. They can’t put past experiences together to approach new challenges, or think of more efficient/better ways of doing things.

    So yes, hard workers. But not good managers.

    1. neverjaunty

      If I worked at a company where my managers assumed I was a lazy idiot purely because of my age range, I wouldn’t be busting my butt to volunteer for anything, either.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      Well I manage, I dunno 30 or 40 millennials? Maybe 50, maybe more. I never count it up but I’ve 100 people and more than half of them have been hired out of college in the last 10 years so I guess that’s more than 50 then.

      This “volunteering” thing is SO not an issue. I have an eager bunch of folks who are always asking for more work and what else can they do.

      I must live in some kind of alternate millennial universe or something. We’ve tons of energy in our org, of which they make up quite a bit.

      1. Michele

        Not surprisingly, younger employees respond better to managers who seem more willing to work with them. I frequently have younger employees ask me for advice or say they want to work on my team. When I brought this up in a recent managers’ meeting (I think we need to give more opportunities for growth within the department), the room was pretty split between those of us who get a lot of requests and those who had none.

      2. Anx

        When I first read the comment, I thought it was a commentary on millennials being burned out on working for free.

    3. Snafu Warrior

      My dad is 53. He’s been telling me, “Work on everything you’re asked to do, but don’t volunteer,” for years. I think the trick is to not tell your manager that that’s your strategy.

        1. Snafu Warrior

          Actually, my response to his advice was that I probably wouldn’t be able to get away with not volunteering for stuff because I’m a young woman. I was mostly being cheeky. Also, you (general you) probably benefit from volunteering for things that management wants to get done, because there’s some visibility in that.

  26. Dwight K Schrute

    As one of the dreaded millennials, I’m pretty tired of these conversations altogether. Thanks Alison for defending us. I just want to be treated fairly and based on my abilities. My boss set a goal for me to “get more industry experience,” but always seems to forget that I have 8 years experience plus tons of tests/industry designations under my belt – much more than any of more coworkers who have worked 20+ years. No one has helped me and I have fought hard for everything I’ve learned and accomplished. I’d love to walk into a meeting and point out all the flaws and disparities of coworkers of other generations, but I don’t because I’m a professional adult and expect others to act accordingly.

  27. Bryce

    As I read articles like these, I wonder if many of the characteristics of millennials are really the characteristics of being young. Similar criticisms were made of Generation X, and the Baby Boomers before that.

    Not even the Greatest Generation was immune: I recall seeing an issue of The Saturday Evening Post from 1942 with an article that essentially said that American youth was soft and undisciplined compared to German and Japanese youth, and if we didn’t shape them up, we’d lose WW2.

  28. Anx

    “Adding injury to insult, many millennials have been unemployed or underemployed since graduating and now must compete against waves of more recent graduates whose skills seem fresher.”

    I think this is one of the things I can get pretty sulky about. I am having a tough time competing simultaneously with younger, fresher graduates and more experienced people (some of whom are my age/graduation year, some of whom are older) for entry-level (professionally) work.

    The worst of it is that I really should have been doing in my first 6 years out of college. But every time I’d invest my last dollar trying to get a toe-hold, it went nowhere. Volunteering can get expensive, as well as irritating (and it was especially awkward trying to explain to family elders why I kept working for free and getting lectured about needing to get a job, or worse, a job with benefits). The few good answers I have to ‘what have you been up to since graduation’ are sources of stress and embarrassment themselves, as they haven’t led to a job (so they can feel like more smaller failures on-top of the overall failure to launch). I am getting increasingly wary of citing past employment experiences in cover letters, resumes, and interviews because I feel like that guy that graduated years ago and keeps hanging around the parking lot, so to speak. Not only are those jobs over 5 years old, now, but they were student jobs as well, lessening their legitimacy and highlighting the fact that I was significantly younger when I did them.

    I don’t really want to start my own business before having work experience with a more established company, but I’m starting to think that’s the only option I really have. And without really believing in myself, how can I convince a bank for a business loan.

    I’ve tried going to groups to help people with barriers to employment, but they aren’t helpful. They have advice like “don’t talk back,” “show up for work everyday,” have workshops on basic arithmetic and writing. While both my writing, reading, and math skills need to be refined, there’s really nothing to get out of those workshops. Some offer free degrees (which makes me a little bit bitter, even though I know I came from a more privileged background), but there’s no vocational training for people with a bachelor’s degree already.

    I am back in school for an AS in a related field to my BS, so it’s essentially a one year program. I felt like I needed to do something, anything, that showed some sort of commitment and that had consequences (unlike volunteering). I am also considering graduate school (which is not something I think people should really do without getting work experience, but that latter doesn’t seem to be accessible either). Having a stipend for a year or two would be more lucrative than part-time gigs here and there and may also feel like I’m moving forward instead of backward.

Comments are closed.