Dear Fellow Millennials,
We’ve been called out lately, by some pretty intelligent people no less. My initial reaction, particularly with Todd Defren’s post, which I read first, was to call bullshit and to write a rallying cry for my peers. Often my initial reaction is to feel backed into a corner and come out swinging, but then cooler heads prevailed and I re-read all of their posts. And you know what?
They’re right. Maybe not about everything, but it’s hard to account for the infinite amount of scenarios young employees inevitably find themselves in. You see, I just quit my job after only 16.5 months so I felt as though they were speaking directly to me. Am I just some entitled brat? In retrospect could I have toughed it out a while longer? In re-reading their posts I’m as confident as ever I made the right decision.
Here’s my evaluation of some of their key messages:
PR Prof Bill Sledzik — “Dear Millennials: Your parents lied to you.”
“Millennials were raised by parents who showered them with praise and awarded them athletic trophies for just showing up. Their lives were over-programmed, their parents hovering.”
Of course this isn’t applicable to EVERY Millennial, but it’s true, there’s no refuting that. Especially the kids from privileged backgrounds, the ones who think $60K and a corner office after 2 years is reality.
“All their lives they’ve been rewarded for effort more so than results.”
Working hard and having passion about what you’re doing should be a prerequisite for getting a job. It should be like having a high school diploma. Impact matters more than output, and doing your best doesn’t matter if you can’t execute.
I genuinely think Bill’s message was spot on.
Todd Defren — “Open Letter to Millennials (PR Industry Edition).”
“My advice then — and you may see it as biased — is to stay put for a while. I am talking 3 – 5 years, at least. There is no such thing as a perfect fit. You must create the perfect fit. This is your apprenticeship period. It is supposed to suck. There are supposed to be crummy days when you feel under-appreciated. Such days will occur no matter who signs your paycheck.”
This is the passage I initially took issue with. In my mind life is entirely too short to feel handcuffed in a position that ‘sucks,’ as Todd puts it. But read it carefully and you see that he says there’s supposed to be ‘crummy days,’ not consecutive crummy months. You DO have to create the perfect fit, and there will always be days where you have to find the silver lining.
I like that Todd explains further a few days later:
First, the clarification: it is up to the employer to offer competitive compensation and a satisfying work environment. Period. However, no employer will be able to offer competitive compensation and a satisfying work environment every single day, for every single employee.
So my point in last week’s post was to suggest that employees who encounter a rut or rough spot try to see it through, rather than throw in the towel.
That doesn’t mean “shackle yourself to the desk,” it means, “make sure you calmly alert the agency to your issues — and be a little patient as they suss out the solutions.” It won’t always work out. But it may be worth the attempt. That is Loyalty.
And just like that we’re back on the same page. There’s always going to be another company willing to lure you away for more money; however, if your present company is offering competitive compensation and you’re learning, growing and working on stuff you’re passionate about then enduring the bad days is just part of it. Sucking it up when you get yelled out every once in a while (though probably not necessary) is part of it.
And again, being honest about the things you have issues with and trying to come to a resolution IS being loyal. If you hang on for four months with no resolution in sight, and you don’t feel that you’re being challenged/learning/growing, then by all means you tried to accommodate the company and you can leave. Just try not to fall into a similar situation with your next position. Keep reading.
Jason Calcanis – “Red, Jackson, Gen Y & Loyalty.”
First, the scenario Jason describes is probably an accurate scenario that happens more than we care to admit.
Second, his advice for how to resign is solid, and there are some important caveats:
“If you’re not learning, enjoying yourself or developing, you probably shouldn’t stay in a company. On that, I think we all agree.”
“Tell your boss everything truthfully. Tell them why you’re leaving, where you’re going and what you’ve loved about working at the company. If they ask, tell them what you think could be improved.”
“If you would rather stay at your company, but need to make more money, be straight with your boss and let them know you would like them to match, or come closer to a competing offer.”
See a theme yet? They’re not telling us to stay no matter what. They’re essentially asking us to be rationale in our approach, to be respectful, to learn from the experience, and to try and avoid it again in the future. Speaking of which…
Mark Suster – “Never Hire Job Hoppers. Never. They Make Bad Employees.”
First of all, I like that Mark lumps all job hoppers and doesn’t single out Millennials as I’m hesitant to lump people together based on how many birthdays they’ve had.
“Quitting 1-2 jobs early when you’re young is acceptable. I get that when people are young they’re exploring life and work. But 6 times is a pattern.”
“ You’re in it more for yourself than your company. OR … you make bad decisions about which companies you join.”
Ding. Ding. Ding. Mark is right too.
So what would I say to these guys?
1.) Thanks. They’re obviously all smart, talented professional that have infinitely more world and work experience than I do and I actually appreciate their insights (for free) where I can consume them, digest them, and apply them to my own life.
2.) And they know this, but loyalty is definitely a two way street. Millennials are significantly less loyal than their parents were, but part of that is because companies are less loyal as well. If a company isn’t giving you a chance to learn, grow, and compensate you fairly then you need to be upfront and honest with them about your intentions. If they can’t resolve it, at that point you probably have every right to do what’s best for you. *Learn and grow doesn’t necessarily have to mean work on awe-inspiring projects. There’s lots of ways to learn.
3.) Most of us aren’t trying to make mistakes. And a situation that works out probably isn’t a mistake if we learn a lot from the experience. My Dad likes to say, “I’m 57 years old and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.” I can assure you that graduate school didn’t teach me how to know enough about myself OR how to interview in a way that enabled me to learn enough about the company to ensure a good fit. That’s something I’m still learning.
It’s easy to glamorize a ‘big name’ company or a cool industry like sports or music, but if those institutions don’t mirror your values you might end up in a precarious situation. Sometimes the best way to learn is through trial and error.
4.) My grandpa likes to say, “they call it a job for a reason,” but one of thing I admire about some of my peers is that they are out there in search of that something that will inspire them to do great work every day. YES, they should try to make what they’re doing a perfect fit, but life is short and being happy is important. It takes a long time to realize that being happy comes from within instead from the external forces that surround our lives.
What do you think? Are Millennials taking their criticism out of context and getting bent out of shape over nothing? What is your stance on job hopping and company loyalty?