Current early career professionals –the much hyped Millennial generation – are fundamentally different than previous generations. They have vast amounts of information at their fingertips and communicate instantly through social media. (In my mind, this is unprecedented!) And they represent a large chunk of the US workforce – 36 percent of it. Millenials are building new age skills and establishing online personal brands.
The required skill set of early career professionals is changing all the time; in fact, some of the skills have not even been defined yet. Technology is moving so fast, it is a challenge to get Millenials prepared with required technical skills. For example, companies are just starting to make sense of big data and moving from traditional hosting to cloud computing. Millenials first build emerging transferable skills such as – computational thinking, design mindset, and virtual collaboration – and then, on the job, learn technical skills with related technologies and applications.
Personal branding is a requirement for Millenials; though many of them do not realize it. The experts say that since you have a digital footprint – in social media profiles and content posted online – you should commandeer it. Millenials are already using social media and the internet for personal, educational, and professional purposes; therefore, the idea is to corral what is out there into a cohesive trademark. And I argue that a personal website should be the centerpiece of it all.
Here are some characteristics of Millenials:
Millenials are informed. With Twitter, they receive a ‘blitz of ideas’. With LinkedIn, they connect to their own ‘professional ecosystem’. They can subscribe to whatever blog, website, or online community interests them.
Millenials know the latest devices and applications. At all stages of education, students are using tablets, laptops, and/or smartphones. I took a MOOC on Emerging Technologies in K – 12 and learned that students are using all of these devices, social media, and online courses and games.
Millenials are looking for happiness and meaning, not just financial gain. Millenials seek purpose and want to thrive in what they do everyday. It is no surprise the ‘best place to work’ are at companies where employees feel what they do has a ‘global impact’.
Millenials community minded. Ninety two percent of Millenials believe businesses should be measured by not only profit, but also societal purpose. Many are willing to do pro bono work. For example, Advisory Board (a DC company) got 98% of its staff to commit to community service so far this year – something they claim attracts and retains Millenials.
Millenials face a challenging job market. According to one study, the employment rate dropped from 84% to 72% for adults aged 21 to 25 during 2000 and 2012. Part of the problem is a skills gap – employers have a difficult time hiring new employees because they lack the necessary technical skills. To close the gap, Millenials must stay abreast of the latest technologies and applications.
 Dan Schawbel. Promote Yourself. St. Martin’s Press (New York, 2013).
 Emily Smith and Jennifer Aaker. “Millennial Searchers,” The New York Times, November 30th, 2013.
 Promote Yourself.
 Sarah Halzack. “At Advisory Board, Pro Bono Work Is Central In Attracting, Retaining, and Training Millenials,” The Washington Post, November 22nd, 2013.