In this economy, recent college grads are not the only people hopelessly searching for work. Many Gen Xers and Baby Boomers with years of experience under their belts find themselves out of work with the recent recession. The unemployment rate is still miserably high at 8.3% and the number of college graduates returning home is higher than ever, at about 50%. It may seem like a good plan to just wait out the storm. Once the economy improves, we Millennials will be able to find the perfect job, right? Don’t be so sure. There are several things that have proven detrimental to our job search ranging from lack of experience to our (overly-generalized) generational mindset.

Millennials Don’t Know How to Hunt

We apply to job after job and usually hear nothing back. What are we doing wrong? We’ve learned to send resumes, but what else should we be doing? Is that even the best option?

What to do

Grant Cordone advises that instead of sending resumes, like the 17 million other college grads, Millennials should “target 4-6 bosses and do whatever it takes to get in front of them.” Do not appeal to HR or a supervisor. Go straight to the boss, and sell yourself hard.

If you are able to get yourself in front of the CEO/President/Director, kudos to you. Cordone is right that this is the most likely action to get you results. However, this is easier said than done. More plausible options are to try and set yourself apart, make sure your resume is at its best, and follow up. Just take care not to harass the employer! Send one email, two tops in the following weeks after you have sent your resume. Make your email clear, concise, and memorable.

Millennials Expect the World on a Silver Platter

I dare you to disagree. Honesty time: when we were kids, how many of us wanted to be the President when we grew up? How about an astronaut, actor, singer, or writer? How many of us wanted—and still desperately and not-so-secretly want—to be rich and famous? Our parents told us we could be these things. As it turns out, we can’t. Not all of us anyway, but we continue wanting to make a difference. Millennials want to be recognized for our achievements. As fresh graduates with little to no experience, how can we contribute? Especially when we cannot find jobs? Well…the jobs are out there, Millennials. It’s this mentality of ours, this sense of entitlement that is making our hunt difficult.

What to do

Before Millennials can have a glamorous job, we need to pay our dues, just like our predecessors. No one becomes successful overnight. Take the job with the long hours and low salary. Work hard, prove that you deserve more, and you will get there with time.

We Can’t Make Up Our Minds

If that promotion never comes, at least you will have gained some experience that can aid you in your next search. The problem is that we tend to give up too quickly. Millennials have been labeled as job hoppers. The average time spent in one job used to be about four years. Our average is closer to two. This isn’t really surprising considering our environment growing up. When we bought a new phone (or it was bought for us), we switched it out for a newer model as soon as possible. We bumped around from major to major in college, trying each on for size and bailing ship when it wasn’t quite right. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is no longer a question for children and teenagers. I’m still asking myself this question, along with many, many Millennials. Trying things on for size is second nature to us. If it doesn’t work, move on. Unfortunately, having multiple jobs in a few years gives the impression of instability and a lack of loyalty. Not every employer is willing to see this practice of ours as ambitious or strategic. They have been instructed to see numerous short-term jobs on a resume as flaky.

What to do

If you have already held a handful of jobs, there isn’t much to do about those. They are there for the world to see. If you suspect this is what’s keeping you from getting hired, don’t be afraid to mention it in your follow up. If they had already written you off, it can’t hurt, right? Say something along the lines of, “Throughout my career, I have gained considerable experience from every job, but I am looking for the perfect fit. I want to be in a company that has a remarkable culture where I can give my all to contribute and make it even better.” Never brush off your many jobs as youthful endeavors or blame your old bosses. Own up to them and give your experiences a positive spin. Make the employer see how your unique understanding of the field is helpful. In the future, be more cautious about job hopping. Hold on as long as possible and work with your boss. Tell him what you truly want. Perhaps he will work with you to improve your feelings about work. Millennial or not, if you are an asset to the business, he will want to keep you on his payroll.

For the final two reasons, read Part 2 of this post at or here on RecruitingBlogs.

Originally posted at Sendouts.

Views: 1885

Comment by Mark on August 17, 2012 at 11:28am

Thanks for this article.  It actually helps me to understand Millennials a little better.  I thought your comments about social media and technology were especially salient.  (I never could understand why younger people prefer to send a text rather than use their ubiquitous cell phones to make a call.)

My own observations:  Your generation appears to be much better educated than mine, at least you all have lots of degrees and other academic achievements.  However, sometimes I think the quality of the education is suspect.  Example:  The Millennials are likely to know volumes about Martin Luther King but next to nothing about Martin Luther.  Millennials tend to be pretty good at math as long as you have a calculator but a paper and pencil is not your best friend.  The Millennials seem to seek fame and fortune by following famous people and projecting themselves onto the famous person.  I think that is part of the reason that so many Millennials blindly follow Barack Obama.

Thanks again for a well written and insightful article.


Comment by Joelle Schoenherr on August 17, 2012 at 12:03pm


Thank you for the feedback! I completely agree with you that Gen Y seems to be better educated. We certainly spend more time in school getting those advanced degrees. But here's the thing: are we getting them because we need them to get jobs? Or are we putting off growing up and moving out into the real world? I'm more inclined to think the latter. I have a year left of my undergraduate education. I do not need a master's degree for my desired field, but have I considered it? Yes and it is because I am terrified to be on my own. With school, we have a safety net. Failing a class is considerably less severe than failing in a job. 

As for Martin Luther, almost everything I know about him I know from college. Personally, I love math, and I prefer a pencil and paper (I like to check my work). I would like to say I resent every insinuation ever made about my generation, but I know that in this case, you are completely spot on with your examples, especially the third. I'm not exactly the typical Millennial, but it is far too easy to idolize the famous with today's media influence.

Thanks again for the comment, Mark!


Comment by Mark on August 17, 2012 at 4:35pm

My pleasure! 

My generation got a lot of hard knocks too, believe it or not.  My parents were what are known of today as the Builders.  Their most notable achievements?  Surviving the Great Depression and winning WWII.  There were 7M Americans in uniform when WWII ended and the home front was completely united behind them.  The closest thing I've ever seen to that was when I came home from the first Iraq war, Desert Storm. 

So, we Boomers have these tough-as-nails survivors as our role models.  They'd been there and done that and, they were going to do what ever they could to make sure that we didn't have to deal with meat and sugar rationing or have to mobilize the whole country to kill a despot.  (Try having that hanging over your head.)  How do you live up to folks with the ability to do all of that?

Your generation has had to deal with 9-11 and the 2nd Iraq War.  (My youngest son was in that one.)  For what it's worth, I don't think you guys get enough credit for dealing with a terrorist attack as the defining moment of your generation.  Follow that up with a global recession which has destroyed your career opportunities and it's wonder that you have any fight left in you. I don't blame you for staying in school.

However, we're Americans and overcoming adversity is our thing.  I've got confidence in you guys.  Your road is going to be hard but you'll overcome.



Comment by Amy Ala Miller on August 17, 2012 at 5:34pm

this is great Joelle! Thanks for sharing it here. I'm watching my daughter get ready to head off to college next month and like you, she's not a typical millenial. :) That being said, I watch many of her peers (including my oldest son, now in the AF) make a lot of these mistakes. Really enjoyed reading your article, keep up the good work!

Comment by Joelle Schoenherr on August 17, 2012 at 5:55pm

Thank you, Amy! Best of luck to your daughter! College can be one of the greatest experiences so she should really enjoy it while she can. I'm really hoping my generation (your son included :) ) can pull together and do great things. Like Mark said above, we truly have been through a lot--not just the bad either. The leaps that have been made since we were born, largely in technology, have created a new world for us to shape and grow into. It's rather...daunting. Things aren't as cut and dry as they used to be, not that things have ever been static. It has just been so much change in such a short time. We can do it, though. I have faith. 

Thanks again for the compliment :)


Comment by Sandra McCartt on August 18, 2012 at 3:46am
Joelle, your generation will be just fine. The biggest problem you have is that we didn't let you fail and learn how to pick yourselves up so you knew you could. Our motives may have been good. We wanted you to have all we could afford for you to have and do and a whole bunch of our generation could afford a lot because of the work ethic we got from our parents. So we worked , sent you to all kinds of lessons and activities etc. then we woke up one day and wondered why you felt entitled. It wasn't supposed to work that way.

We protected your little psyches, insisted on political correctness, went on and on about sensitivity. No the hell wonder this generation is not tough and is more worried about who is a racist than winning a race. No wonder so many are a bit confused about how all this is supposed to work. However, it may be a little late but now that we are about ready to pitch you the keys, you are getting your chance to fail or not and pick yourselves up so you know you can..and you will.

I remember the day with clarity that I really realized I could take care of myself and two very young kids without any help from anybody. It was the most empowering day of my life. Your late start may be partially our fault but at least most of you are better educated , your horizons are much more expanded than ours were.

Now if we can just stand you until you get over all our help your generation will make their mark. I can't wait to hear you tell your kids how tough it was when you got out of school. :)
Comment by Suresh on August 18, 2012 at 9:25am

Good post...

The saying that cream will rise to the top is so much more relevant for millenials. Particularly geographical boundaries are being broken and its becoming a truly global competitiion for talent or jobs. I saw an article this week that some of the major US universities are going to provide some of their courses for Free worldwide. The point is no matter where you are if you have the fight in you, you can compete.


This is the lesson I am trying to teach my kids (17yrd old and a middle schooler), don't assume anything..there is a ton of resources here in the US but you still have to find it and use it to develop your skills. Companies always will want to hire Can doers and fighters, atleast I would..

Comment by Joelle Schoenherr on August 20, 2012 at 9:31am


I completely agree. We haven't learned how to fail and overcome those make the most of them, realize our mistakes, and move on. To us, failure is unacceptable. I have always been more than grateful to my parents for their support, both financially and emotionally, but ironically, it is this unfailing support that has left me the most vulnerable. The second it is gone, will I know how to run my own life? I'm not alone in this fear. Eventually, we all learn, some later than others, but you are right, Sandra. We'll be just fine.


Totally true! The world is rapidly shrinking and the job market has more opportunities than ever. The primary difficulty in this is learning how to make the most of them--using a unique background to find the best fit possible, in the best place possible (that's where recruiters can help, right?? :) ). Every job seeker, not just Gen Yers need to stay optimistic and keep fighting.

Thanks for the comments!


Comment by Bill Schultz on August 20, 2012 at 8:46pm

What is a millenial?  Is that someone entering the workforce in Y2k?  

Comment by Joelle Schoenherr on August 21, 2012 at 10:01am

A Millennial is the same as Generation Y--someone born between 1980 and 1995.


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