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For all the talk of lazy Millennials, the truth is that we’re the largest generation currently in the US workforce. We are a gigantic and diverse group – born just before or after the turn of the millennium, we makes up almost twenty-five percent of the entire US population. We’re slowly but surely taking over the roles that retiring Boomers once held, and we’re now in a place to start to truly consider our futures. Understanding how our generation – not to mention our employers – is preparing for the workforce is something that deserves a bit of exploration.

The Millennial Preparation Process

As hard as it may be to understand, today’s Millennial is, more or less, already an adult. We’ve been shaped by our families and our peers, and we’ve figured out our worldview, for good or for ill.

So, who is your average member of this generation? First and foremost, he or she has a fairly self-centered world view. We don’t care much for our employer’s view of the world, and we’re willing to move on when we don’t feel fulfilled. We consider loyalty to an employer an outdated concept, and we’re more than willing to move on to a better position even if our employers have a stake in our future.

At the same time, Millennials wanted to be challenged. We move, and we seek out the opportunity to do more when we can. Millennials stay in jobs for two years on average, less than half of the amount of time our parents spent in one position.

Millennials have an entrepreneurial mindset – we want to work for ourselves, and we want to create our own jobs. We like to be coached, but we don’t want to be told specifically what to do. This might come from a lifetime of dealing with hectic schedules and structured activities, but a Millennial responds better to an advisor than a boss.

Finally, the average Millennial is tech savvy. We don’t just use technology – we live in it. There’s no technological hurdle too big for us, and we expect everyone else to keep up. We’d rather telecommute than spend time in the office, and our career choices will reflect this.

A Millennial Perspective on Education

Contrary to what you may have read, Millennials are incredibly pragmatic. We don’t invest in schooling if it’s not immediately practical, and we’ll go after work experience over traditional courses whenever possible. We’d rather try to become competent in a work role than learn about the theory behind the job. Perhaps because of this sheer bloody-minded practicality, Millennials prefer certifications over degrees, seeing them as far more immediately useful in the workforce. Many young people got burned by university – it left them in debt and with no actual practical knowledge that can be applied straight away. That’s why we opt in for courses in skills that are actually sought after, like Salesforce, Java, and so on.

What Millennials Look for in a Job

With all this in mind, it’s important to understand that leading Millennials requires a deft touch. Below are a few tips that most Millennials look for when considering a career.

  • Clear boundaries – with explanations. While our parents may disagree, we do respect authority. What we do not do well, though, is follow blindly. Give Millennials a firm sense of “why”, and we’ll follow you anywhere.
  • Give feedback. Millennials like feedback. We’ve gotten it our entire lives, and we want it now. We are people who want to know what we are doing, and want to do better. If you can coach us to become better, we absolutely will become better.
  • Be Flexible. Don’t be married to traditional paradigms. This is a generation that will work late if you let us come in late, and will make sure we get the job done. If you can abandon the traditional ideas and instead focus on getting work done, Millennials will overperform every time.
  • Leverage our creativity. Millennials may tend to want to be entrepreneurs, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work for you. Identify your leaders early on and give them the space to be creative. You can take advantage of our strengths while still offering us what we need.

Changing the Future

In less than a decade, three quarters of the world’s workforce will be Millennials. Unfortunately, surveys show that most of us feel unprepared for our futures. We want to learn more and exceed the labels that have been given to us. All we really want is a chance to prove that we’ve got what it takes.

This article was contributed by guest author Philip Piletic.