How Millennials View the Job Market

By Brad Harper, Montgomery Advertiser | April 22, 2014

Briana Tony hasn’t graduated from college yet, and she’s already frustrated with the job market.

She’s been through four jobs and said she moved on from each because of a lack of respect and poor upward mobility.

“Our generation isn’t taken seriously at all,” Tony said.

Experts say the young workers of the millennial generation are determined to find the right fit, and they aren’t afraid to shop around even in a tough economy.

A report by the U.S. Department of Labor shows that people born after 1980 have held an average of 6.2 jobs by age 27, and 57 percent of jobs lasted less than a year.

That’s a lot of job hopping, but they’re not the first to do it.

A similar federal report from 2012 showed that Baby Boomers held an average of 5.5 jobs by age 24, and 69 percent of those jobs lasted a year or less. As they aged, they stayed on the job longer.

These days, young workers may be changing jobs for different reasons.

Many stayed in school for longer to avoid looking for work during the depths of the recession, leading to the most educated generation in history. A little more than a third of workers ages 25 to 32 hold at least a bachelor’s degree, according to Atlanta Fed senior research analyst Mark Carter.

Now they’re leaving college with skyrocketing student loan debt and entering a nearly stagnant job market where they’re mostly finding entry-level positions with little hope for improvement. When they switch jobs, they often find themselves in the same situation with a new company.

“It’s all compounded to a degree because a lot of the Baby Boomer generation isn’t retiring, so those jobs aren’t opening up,” said Carolyn Trent, socioeconomic analyst for the University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research. “That’s led to fewer opportunities to advance.”

Trent said many of those millennials were hired at a bargain price during the recession and haven’t been given much of a reason to stick around. Now they’re willing to move on.

“In the old days, we may have just accepted it,” Trent said.

Job goals in general may have changed.

Alabama State University communications major Rita Usher plans to graduate next month and has worked several internships to broaden her skill set and improve herself. She said that approach extends to job hunting.

“Young workers are not looking for security,” Usher said. “They’re looking for experience.”

Tony, who also plans to graduate from ASU next month, spent Thursday looking for a better fit at a career fair on campus along with hundreds of other students.

At one of the booths, Regions Bank Human Resources Manager Shena Davidson said they’ve worked to adjust to millennials by communicating more through email and texting. They’ve also gotten used to millennials leaving lower-level jobs after a short time.

“For the teller opportunities, I think we’ve just come to realize that they don’t stay there very long,” Davidson said. “It’s a very important position, but I don’t think they see it as status.”

Still, they’re motivated to find the right position.

As students swarmed the tables, DCH Health Systems recruiter Elizabeth Shumaker praised their ambition during a molasses-slow recovery from the recession.

“I know that the job market has been kind of tough in the last few years, but it doesn’t seem to be stopping people from going to school and getting out there to try to find a good career,” Shumaker said.

They’re also eager to learn from other age groups.

Generational expert Nancy Sutton Bell of Montevallo University said millennials are the first generation that didn’t rebel against their parents. Because of that, she said mentors and heroes often play a bigger role in their careers.

Usher said she stays motivated and stays focused on the dream of owning a business someday because of the lessons learned from her mother, Sharon Shaw.

“She’s a very hard worker and she never gives up,” Usher said. “So I’ll never give up.”

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    Stan says:
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