As a millennial in the workforce, I see many experts claim they know how to manage my generation and understand why we act the way we do. The only thing missing from many of those ideas is a millennial voice.
Last week at CIO Perspectives Virginia, a one-day event for senior IT executives, I moderated a panel that included three millennials from ages 26-31, with different connections to IT. We set out to address the myths that surround our generation and give some context to why these perceptions exist and how boomers and Gen-X-ers can better understand us.
Equally important was the opportunity for CIOs to candidly ask the panel questions about how to attract, recruit and retain millennials for their workforce.
Myth 1: We are restless job hoppers who don't have any loyalty to our companies. If we are bored or unsatisfied, we will move on without looking back.
This perception might make other generations think millennials are arrogant and have an inflated sense of accomplishment. The panelists agreed that they could be viewed as job hoppers but that other generations need to look past their resumes to find out why they have moved around.
"My resume looks like a classic job hopper, but political appointees end and you have to find a new job," said panelist Laura Horton, communications manager at Georgetown University. "I've gained perspectives on various audiences working in business, Fortune 500 and now higher education."
Joel Sackett, a product manager at Hanover Research, says that while the label, "job hopper," can have a negative connotation, it's up to millennials to show that each of their work experiences has been valuable. "With technology and all the change and evolution, roles and experiences change year to year," he said. "If you're self-aware enough to evolve, maybe that means a new job or industry. It's an evolution of your career."
The panelists said that they are attracted to jobs that allow work-at-home days, and flexible schedules and companies with a great story to tell and a mission that millennials can contribute to. "If we have the freedom to work flexibly, we know we are still held accountable," Sackett said. "We're adults and we know what [to do] to get the job done."
Workplaces with video games, exercise balls and other perks aren't the end-all-be-all for these millennials either. Panelist Ian Tighe, a strategic account manager at startup, VerQu, said at his last job there was a ping pong table and it was more of a trap; if you were playing ping pong, you weren't at your desk making calls.
Myth 2: We are overconfident, even cocky, in our abilities, especially regarding technology. We act this way toward baby boomers and Gen-X-ers and believe our familiarity with technology is superior.
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