Updated: Sep 10, 2019
By: Richard Hindmarch
Having been involved in the recruitment of graduates over the last two years, it is fair to say that the experience I have had has been up and down. Recruiting millennials has been hit and miss.
You hear so much about millennials; “they’re lazy, they’re arrogant, they cannot take direction, they’re too opinionated, they’re entitled, they’re spoilt, they have unrealistic and unjustified expectations of the real world” and so on and so on.
I myself am a millennial having graduated from university in June 2016. I can honestly say that I have been described as all of the above… and I have also been guilty of being all of the above. My degree from one of the most prestigious universities in the world led to me becoming arrogant and entitled. My immaturity at the time contributed to my attitude and I thought I was above everyone else, smarter than my boss, and better than the job I was in.
I would defy authority at all turns, would actively not listen to instruction, and in general I thought I knew it all. I was pretty much fired twice within my first few months at my company, but I convinced my boss to give me another chance both times.
I had good attributes such as an inherent hard-working attitude, the ability to think on my feet and process information quickly, confidence on the phone, and the ability to think of ways to streamline processes. The positives and the potential I had to excel in the role was what saved my job (twice)!
It a took a few months of getting to know each other and getting to grips with each other’s personalities, but my boss and I eventually began to work together cohesively. I reigned in my opinionated nature and he changed his approach; as opposed to telling me what to do, he began advising me what to do. This helped as I didn’t shoot down everything he said, and our relationship became one of compromise as opposed to that of butting of heads.
The point I am trying to make is that it is not “millennials” as a generation who are different/harder to work with than other generations, it is a change in society that has led to a difference in the way that older generations operate compared to this generation of graduates.
It is now commonplace that if you go to work in an office/corporate environment, you will start your career at the age of 21/22 after graduation from university. Perhaps 30 years ago, it was the norm to start your career after school at the age of 18. There is a discrepancy between the age at which people start their careers these days compared to previous generations.
When I think back to myself as an 18-year-old and myself as a 21-year-old, the difference is stark. At 18, I listened to my teachers at school, I lived at home, I had no real-world life experience, and I was in general a lot more daunted by the thought of adulthood. After three years at university where I lived on my own in a different city to my home town, where I had to think for and look after myself; I had changed a lot. At 21, I was able to form my own opinions, rely on myself, make my own decisions, look after my own finances, and in general I was able to stand on my own two feet.
However, what I have since realised is that I mistook this independence for maturity. Looking back to when I started my career, I was still an infant when it comes to the working world. Those “unrealistic and unjustified” expectations still were prevalent in my mind, the “arrogance” was still there, I was certainly “entitled”, and I still had not enhanced the way that I put forward my “opinions”.
We have hired millennials who have worked out and we have hired millennials who have not (as my boss would put it, “they were nightmares!”), and the difference between the successes and the failures ultimately comes down to us as employers and how we managed those graduates and helped them make the transition from immature graduates to mature professionals.
Millennials are no different to any generation. What has changed is society and the underlying movement towards more free thought and the encouragement to follow what you think and not have your beliefs challenged by the corporate machine. And if you disagree – fight me!
I would love to write a further article about how this ties into the movements of feminism, equality of race, and the movement towards a multicultural society, but unfortunately this “snowflake” must get back to work…