Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Millenials are Different - So What Generation Isn't?

A lot of consultants have made a lot of money spouting expertise on the Millenial Generation, those who are 20-31 right now. Born from 1979 to 1991, they are more socially conscious, more technology savvy, likely to job hop, demand more in the workplace, latch-key kids and harder to convince sitting in a cubicle all day is a way to get ahead, etc., etc., etc.

Doctoral dissertations are written about them, businesses are grown around them and it still goes on.

But aside from the fact thatey have every generation before them beat on tech savvy are they really all that different from previous generations? I mean I really don't like their music and they spend more time on Facebook than I do but my parents didn't like our music and we talked on the phone all night long.

Oh and I forgot that millenials don't communicate as well in person because they're so used to texting all the time. But what kid whose in college, just got out or has not been in the workplace for awhile is really literate in grown-up, corporate speak?

I've worked with this generation and I think many of these studies, and many of the "Millenial Consultants" are spin masters. First of all, the recession has completely levelled the playing field. Those Millenials who went out and got jobs right after college or graduate school are no longer able to demand signing bonuses, raises or many of the other things they got away with when the economy was soaring.

Many have had to accept jobs that are not as lofty as those they envisioned and they've learned how to deal with that.They've been humbled by the economy, as we all have.

Second, there are always generational differences in the workplace, and some Millenials have a strong work ethic and others have been handed everything by their parents. How is that different than the world the rest of us grew up in? Doesn't it really come down to good parenting versus spoiling your children rotten?

So I propose that Millenials and those that follow them (other than the fact that my 12 year-old can program my iPhone and GPS while I have to watch her) aren't that different than previous generations. They're learning what they have to do to get ahead and figuring it all out as they go.

I saw a "Millenial Consultant" a couple of years ago at a trade show and she was in jeans and extremely entertaining. But personally, I would have preferred someone who taught me how to market my business rather than deal with a generation gap.

More power to the consultants who've created an industry out of this they've found the golden goose. But in the end, that was a fairy tale too.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you 10,000% Only I do see common characteristics among Millenials, Gen-Xrs and Boomers. I think that is valid, and it's good to know about it. We just don't have to build a whole industry around it!

    As a Gen Xr, when I was that age, I and my peers would do anything we could to get in with older, more experienced professionals. Man, Hollywood really capitalized on our almost comical desperation in that dept. with movies like Working Girl, The Secret of My Success, and Baby Boom (to name a few!)

    We didn't want to hang with people just like us, because we wanted to learn and make contacts that could move us up the corporate ladder. We tried to dress and act like the boss. Having lunch or being invited to an event with established professionals was a big deal for us.

    We did not have "Young Professionals" groups. When I see these, I shake my head. What are they going to do when they age out of being a "Young Professional?" How will they deal with that identify shift? Are they going to form networking groups around being in their 30s?

    If someone is 25 and has good judgment and can do the job, I want to work with them. If someone is 35, 45, 55, 65, or 75, I feel the same way.

    Poor Milennials! Life is going to sneak up on them. At least, we were prepared. Kids, aging parents, aging selves! They won't feel special forever.