Millennial mindset: Are you damaging your career?
I was born in 1988, making me—according to 2019 standards—an elder millennial. I play into a lot of millennial stereotypes, however I’m not quite as Generation Z influenced as younger millennials. Basically, I remember CD players and dial-up broadband, but don’t really get Snapchat.
What I do get is that–based on feedback from my clients–millennials are often marked out as problematic in the workplace. This is because many of us need instant gratification, crumble under pressure and are overly sensitive.
On the one hand, I agree. On the other hand, millennials sometimes get a bad rap. Remember when we single-handedly killed print media, mayonnaise, and napkins? Me neither.
Even so, I’ve often wondered whether the so-called ‘millennial mindset’ is potentially career damaging. When it comes to the context of the workplace, how much about thisnebulous group of people born between 1981 and 1996 is fact and how much is fiction?
Let’s take a look at two pervasive questions.
Do millennials really need instant gratification?
Unlike Generation Z, millennials weren’t raised in the internet; but we went through puberty on MSN Messenger and matured into a world of social media.
As such, instant gratification became a big deal. And that need for instantaneous (usually positive) feedback has wheedled its way into the office.
Simon Sinek in The Independent says that our parents are to blame. He claims that because “we got medals for coming in last…entering the real world was a shock and our self-images were shattered.”
As a result, in the office, millennials often expect rewards and effusive praise for simply doing their jobs. However, the fact of the matter is, doing your job is the bare minimum expected of you on a day-to-day basis. Nor will finishing your contracted work get you a gold star.
But, while this is what many believe about millennials, is it the reality of the situation? Perhaps not.
After all, according to CNBC, “workers between ages 25 and 34 spend 6.4 hours a day checking their email; with more than a third checking their work mail before they even get out of bed.”
While that may be the case, I still think that millennials—and employees of all ages, really—should look at their steady employment and monthly salary as a reward for doing their job well. Be humble, be grateful, and don’t give only to receive.
Plus, it’s crucial to put more emphasis on long-term progression, rather than short-term success. We all like to hear that we’re doing a good job, but when the glow of that praise fades, it’s on you to keep working hard to get to the next level.
And yes, that includes those times when you feel your employer isn’t recognising your work. Just remember that, in the long-term, it will pay off. After all, the world wasn’t built in a day.
Are millennials quick to throw in the towel?
As well as needing instant gratification, millennials are also supposedly quick to throw in the towel. According to Sinek, again quoted in The Independent, “When you give [millennials] negative feedback, they cry or quit.”
One example based on my experience is the world of PR. Often thought to be out-of-this-world glamorous by aspiring PR people, the truth is that’s far from the case. A career in PR takes a lot of arduous work, as well as a knack for taking rejection (or people straight up ignoring you)
After all, very few people will reply to you first time and even then, you might not secure their guarantee of coverage. Often, it’s the millennial mindset of taking rejection to mean absolute defeat that leaves PR agencies struggling to find great junior level talent nowadays. The resilience is rarely there.
The studies back this up. As reported by The Independent, “43 percent of millennials plan to leave their current jobs within two years and only 28 per cent have plans to stay beyond five years.”
On the one hand, you could see this as a refusal to settle for a role that’s not just right. This is definitely admirable; especially when you’re looking to build experience or just figure out if a role is right for you! However, if you’re doing it in the hopes of advancing faster, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
Why you need to hang on in there
I think this lack of resilience is again related to the idea of instant gratification. If people don’t get the short-term high of securing a promotion or immediate career progression opportunities within a year or two, they up and leave. Which is…nuts!
Rewards like that come in the long term. So, packing up and moving to a new job–like almost half of millennials plan to do within two years–won’t help either. After all, you’re simply starting the cycle again. That’s why I think it’s so important for millennials nowadays to stick at it and put in the effort to advance.
On the other, the rush to throw in the towel and look for the next position is potentially stunting your career progression. Because, as many hiring managers will tell you, a candidate who jumps between jobs quicker than Goldilocks often rings alarm bells.
Is this millennial mindset really ruining your career?
The short answer is…maybe.
A social media mindset of instant gratification just doesn’t translate to the world of work. Instead of looking for long-term career progression, it’s going to be problematic if you’re fixated on short-term successes and praise. In short, you’ll be disappointed eventually. Similarly, if you give up easily, you’re only making it harder to get ahead in the long run!
But the good news is, all of this is under your control. If you don’t play into the stereotypes of the millennial mindset, trust me, your career will be just fine. So why not start your job search today?