Dear Bettie:

I’m founder and hiring manager at a tech startup company. We are looking for talented college graduates interested in making a difference. Strangely enough, while most workers in our industry are recently graduated young adults, I am not. I started this company with my two 30-something children and am charged with growing our staff by recruiting and hiring talented IT professionals.

In addition to skills, I look for driven candidates who show initiative and an entrepreneurial mindset. Finding technically savvy applicants is the easy part. Why don’t educated, capable Millennials show passion? Why do many of them settle for part-time positions or unpaid internships? Where’s the gusto…the “no guts, no glory” attitude I remember when I first looked for employment after graduation?

Surprised at Low Expectation Workforce

Dear Surprised:

It is surprising that the most well-educated generation in American history – the U.S. Department of Education reports that 34 percent of Millennials have a bachelor’s degree compared to 25 percent of Baby Boomers – are not more assertive in attaining employment.

Despite great talent and education, college graduates report that it takes twice as long to find their first job out of college today than it did in the 1970s.

Today’s graduates are children of the Great Recession saddled with a job market unfavorable to inexperience. Here’s why.

  • Employers frequently require young hires to have both a college degree and work experience in the form of an internship or a co-op program. Businesses have reduced their training budgets and now expect new hires to come in and succeed with little training.
  • Web-based job platforms, such as Indeed.com or CareerBuilder.com, give Millennials access to more job opportunities. Yet, with ease of access, the competition for any one job has multiplied.
  • The only way new workers can get experience is to look for internships and volunteer experiences.
  • Job searching takes weeks or even months of dedication, and knowing how to hunt for a position doesn’t always come naturally. Recruiters claim that 70 percent of jobs come from networking.
  • Employers are reluctant to hire Millennials based on the statistic that 66 percent of them say they only plan on staying with current jobs for a few years. This affects how businesses hire and train employees.

Based on these factors, Millennials have lowered their expectations for finding the perfect job. It’s not that they aren’t ambitious or willing to take initiative, they are adapting to the environment.

Next time you interview a qualified candidate, one who is looking for experience through an unpaid internship, surprise him. Congratulate him for adapting to an unfavorable marketplace. Then offer your paid position with the challenge that your new employee exceeds your expectations just as you exceeded his.

Here’s to understanding everyone’s perspective. Hire on!
Bettie