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Generation iY

What we MUST Prepare for and Understand as

they Enter the Workforce
Why do so many of today’s
teens seem unprepared for
the real world?

Today’s teens are often

ill equipped for college,
technical school, and – especially – the workforce.

But what happened to make today’s teenagers so

unprepared for the realities of work? What
did we do as parents to create and perpetuate this
issue,and what do we need to be aware of as
business professionals and employers in order to
break the cycle?

It’s time to reflect on whether we are preparing our

children for life after graduation.

In this book, we’re going to talk about:

The generations of working professionals and how
the idea of work has significantly shifted, how
employers are bound to view iY based on where
we are with today’s working Millennials, the
characteristics of iY and why they differ from other
generations, the role of a parent in the transition,
key characteristics employers desire in new
employees, and how parents and employers can
help teens make the leap into success.

Before we go any further, I’d like to state that these

are my opinions. While I have been in the
recruiting and talent acquisition industry for more

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than 20 years and have seen how different
generations enter and leave the workforce, I do not
claim to be a parenting expert or psychologist.

As a father of two Millennial children, I am interested

in sharing my thoughts, ideas, and concerns on the
iY generation and hope that it opens up a dialogue
and ongoing discussion about what we can do to help
this generation succeed.

- Steve

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Where did the Problem Come From?
To understand the potential issues with the
iY generation in the workplace, we first need to take
a step back and look at the cyclical issues we’ve
created when it comes to over - accommodation
in business.

However, before we can even do that, let’s take a

look at the different working generations and the
kinds of beliefs they hold. Each of the four working
generations view life a bit differently.

• Builders (1929-1945)
view life with the
“be grateful you have
a job” lens. They
believe in enduring
authority, the
significance of
relationships, career
as a means for living,
mellow schedules, and seeking to stabilize their
futures. They hope to simply outlive technology
and view the market in terms of goods.

• Boomers (1946-1964) tend to view life through

the lens of optimism while decrying absolutes
and structure. They believe that authority has
replaced them, emphasize relationships, see their
career as their central focus, stick to a schedule,
and want to create their own future.
They strive to master technology and view the
market in terms of services.

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• Gen X (1965-1983) view life in terms of how it
relates to them. They historically ignored
authority, have central relationships, view their
career as a requirement, and tend to be jaded
about the future. They enjoy technology and view
the market in terms of experiences.

• Lastly, Gen Y (Millennials) and iY view life as a

cafeteria. They believe they choose authority,
have global relationships 24/7, see their careers
as a place to serve if it serves them, have volatile
schedules, and an optimistic view of the future.
They employ technology and view the market in
terms of transformations.

To take a closer look at

generations leading up to
iY,let’s look at what
happened with Gen X
and how it’s tying into
today’s problems:

At the height of the dot-com tech bubble of the 1990s,

it came to be expected that top performing
industry talent would be showered with job perks –
keys to a new car, extravagant offices, hyper-inflated
titles, and large bonus structures. But when that
bubble burst, employees and companies alike suffered
the grave consequences of giving far too much instead
of focusing on quality output and the bottom line.

Today’s Millennials are getting themselves into a lot of

trouble by succumbing to this same mentality. In
today’s candidate-driven market, we are again

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encouraged as employers to go the extra mile and give
the can didate everything their heart desires. But how
much accommodation is too much?

Inc. Magazine recently reported on the main reasons

today’s Millennial workers are getting fired. Some of
the top reasons they cited include:

Employers Feel like Mommy and Daddy

One of the biggest complaints by the 28,000 bosses
who were surveyed by SmartRecruiter for the article
is that they feel like they need to act as a parent to
the Millennial employee. Millennials were raised
believing everyone in their life will serve as a mentor,
coach, and cheerleader, and in the professional world
this just isn’t the case. Inc.’s recommendation to
Millennials is taking initiative to develop yourself
as an employee instead of relying on someone to
do it for you. Unlike what is taught in many schools
these days, your career hinges on more than
just participation – competition does in fact create
real winners.

“Anti-Work” Attitude is Tiresome

Too many of today’s Millennial workers are interested
in working only the bare minimum hours and effort
required to get the job done. In order to earn trust and
respect, Millennial workers must earn the right
to have flexible schedules and time to pursue personal
interests before assuming it will be given to them.

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The Demand for Happiness
Contrary to a growing belief, itis not the employers’
job to make the workday fun. While in-house parties
and quirky office spaces are enticing candidates
to come in the door, they are not ultimately helping
with productivity or output.

Alfie Kohn, Author of ‘Punished by Rewards,’ argues

that Millennials have an addiction to praise,
perks, and other incentives that have replaced the
satisfaction that comes from good, hard work.

In this way, intrinsic motivation has all but gone out

the window. With this “me, too” mentality comes a
detrimental effect on productivity. The trend
of going overboard will become. an immense issue in
today’s workplace if we are not careful about applying
limitations when accommodating the candidate.

Kohn says that for any young worker to be satisfied,

they will need to find the desire to produce
quality work internally and learn to understand their
own professional strengths.

“Instead of focusing strictly on meeting physical

needs/desires through unlimited snacks and beer,
free massages, and on- campus gyms, companies
should consider motivating employees by making
them greater participants in the business.”

–Aimee Groth, Quartz Magazine

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How Employers Will View iY
Understanding how employers will view the
iY generation requires looking at two big questions:

• Would an iY employee work hard enough?

• Is the iY generation really ready for the

working world?

Today, employers’ views of Millennials are

based on a number of assumptions made about this
future generation.

First, employers often

believe that the
upcoming generations
tend to have unrealistic
expectations compared
to other generations.
Gen Y workers tend to
expect that everything
happens quickly, leading
them to believe that
promotions and successful growth in a company
happens at a much faster rate than in reality.
Operating under this assumption may lead Millennials
to think career success isn’t necessarily dependent on
their hard work and dedication to their job.

Millennials seem to be unaware that their

responsibilities go beyond the basic job description.

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In reality, an employee’s job is to make their
manager’s life easier, meaning they are expected
to do more than what they were hired to do
(read the fine print!). Employers also believe that
Millennials come with baggage.

Let’s look at some statistics to back up these

concerns from’s Global Outlook Survey:

• 47% of bosses surveyed said Millennials have a

poor work ethic

• 46% said they’re easily distracted

• 51% said they have unrealistic compensation


• 53% of CFOs say they are less loyal to the company

• 46% say they exhibit an attitude of entitlement

• 31% believe they require more intense management

• 27% of firms said young workers are more

interested in their own personal development
than they are in the company

What explains such views? Millennials are often raised

to believe they can grow up to be anything they want,
that there is no stopping them. However, the downside
is that to be president, it’s an incredible amount
of hard work with competition coming from all sides.

Millennials can also be very hard working, but there are

just way too many that were brought up with an attitude

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of entitlement. Lastly, the effects of social media
(Facebook, Twitter, etc.) play a large role.

One marketing director for a west coast winery recently

told me, “I interviewed a millennial candidate for
entry-level position this summer. When he didn’t get the
job, his dad called me multiple times to demand why.”
The director was honest about having found shirtless
pictures of the youngster during a routine online search
for him – in addition to receiving work samples of him
sans shirt!

What makes Gen iY different?

Yesterday’s teenagers
spent more time
playing outside, stayed
out until the
streetlights came on,
had some technology
(AOL, MySpace), but it
was not their entire existence, still wrote letters to
pen pals and notes to friends on paper, and still
called each other on the phone instead of texting.

Gen iY, on the other hand, grew up in a word that

always had expansive technology. They are
the first true “i” generation: iPods, iTunes, iPhones,
iPads, and on and on.

They will be the largest population in Earth’s history,

the most eclectic and diverse in U.S. history, the most
protected and observed generation, and the first

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generation that does not need leaders to get
information (they have electronic access to every piece
of data online).

Generation iY is also an overwhelmed generation.

A recent Trending Machine National Poll found that:

• 94% of iY students feel overwhelmed

• 44% said they were so depressed they

couldn’t function

• 10% considered suicide in the past year

This is due to expectation to perform (high pressure)

without the training to perform, lack of healthy
pressure to perform (they are shocked when they enter
college of the workplace and face demands a
little closer to adult life), and self-imposed expectations.

After all, from the time they were small they were told
they were the best, they were special, and they
have unlimited potential. They learn to try to live up to
these unrealistic expectations.

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In essence, they never learn to set proper expectations.

They are also an over-connected generation. Teens

have two common responses when feeling pressure:
they push back by getting lost in a virtual world (video
games, social media such as Facebook), thus surviving by
escaping reality and becoming someone else, or they
respond by trying to measure up to unrealistic objectives
(a type of Superkid).
Teens from this generation often may struggle with
discovering their own identity later because they live
in a fantasyland. Many end up lacking relationship
skills and have low emotional intelligence (EQ).
According to focus group proof, more than 50% of
iY’s are shown to be short on patience, listening skills,
and conflict resolution. They are shown to have little
value for quality relationship and depend on virtual
relationships defined by speed and quantity.

Generation iY is an overprotected generation; safety

may be trumping growth. They grow up with
safety belts, safety seats, and safety policies and are
discouraged from exploring, shielded from financial
realities, and spend most time inside on the screen
(also known as screenagers!). They end up with
little coping skills in dealing with disappointments.

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How will this Translate in the Workforce?
Generation iY is a part of the ‘no collar’workforce.
They appear choosy, need to be socially connected,
want to belong, believe they have something
to offer, don’t separate work from play, and want to
‘create’ their job.

Many companies have emulated Silicon Valley in

adopting perks as a hiring strategy, but the next level
in which they’ll compete is not by attracting them with
physical amenities, but by extending more trust
and allowing employees to work more autonomously.

–Aimee Groth, Quartz Magazine

What Parents Can Do

What is the role of a
parent in guiding our
teens? The role of a
parent is to serve as
a compass rather than
a map. Parents too
often resort to being a
map or GPS, telling
children what point A
and point B is (helicopter parenting). They need to be
a compass, providing guidance but letting the child figure
out the way to get beyond obstacles.

Otherwise stated, the compass defines the true north.

In order to focus on being a compass and not a map,
we must realize that a compass builds sound judgment,

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conscience, will, and action.

According to InsideJobs, the seven most common

mistakes that parents make are: not letting children
experience risk, rescuing children too quickly, raving
about children too easily, letting guilt get in the way
of leading, not sharing your past mistakes, mistaking
intelligence, giftedness, and influence for maturity, and
not practicing what you preach.

As a parent, there are many things to practice to shape

a child into a productive and healthy adult that will thrive
in the working world.

Talk over issues you wish you would have known about
adulthood. Allow them to attempt things that
stretch them and even let them fail. Yes, I really said
let them fail! Discuss future consequences if they fail to
master certain disciplines, aid them in matching
their strengths to real-world problems, and furnish
projects that require patience so that they learn to
delay gratification.

Teach them that life is about choices and trade-offs

(they can’t do everything), initiate (or simulate) adult
tasks like paying bills or making business deals, introduce
them to potential mentors from your network, and help
them create a future end goal and then discuss the steps
to get there.

Lastly, celebrate the progress they make toward

autonomy and responsibility.

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As a parent, it is important to help your child identify
future careers and interests, especially since it is so
difficult for a 17 or 18 year old to choose a career or
college interest.

The first option in aiding your child, according to

InsideJobs, is called “seven stories.” Have the child
describe 10-15 examples of times in their lives where
they really enjoyed doing something and felt they did it
well. Pick the top seven stories and look for patterns:
what did they like about doing that? Why did they think
they did it well? Whom did they do it with?

Another option is to use dreams as a starting point.

At some point in their life, your teen has dreamed about
their future. As a parent, it’s your job to encourage
your teen to think big and express their ideas. Imagining
the future is the very first step to making it a reality.
It is important not to worry if your teen’s initial career
ideas seem impractical or unrealistic; dreams are not
a commitment.

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Dreams are simply a starting point to talk about
the future. It is also important to ask the right questions.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
can be an overwhelming question. Instead, start with
related but easier brainstorming topics. You can then
use the answers to lead into a bigger discussion.

Questions include:

“If you could have anyone’s job in the world, what

would you choose?”

Would you ever want to work for yourself?”

“How much money do you imagine yourself making

when you’re older?”

“What activities are you most excited about or

committed to?”

“Would you ever want to work outside? At a desk?

On the road?”

The goal is to start your teen thinking about career ideas.

These unstructured conversations help your
teenager to start focusing on career planning without
getting overwhelmed.

The third option, according to InsideJobs, is to share

your story. One of the best ways to begin
career exploration is by talking about your own career.
You might think about your career only in terms
of the paying jobs you have had, but a career is bigger
than that: it is how you incorporate work-
including volunteer, at-home, and paid - into your life.

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So, whether you’re employed, self-employed,
underemployed, or a stay-at-home parent, you’ve got
a career! However, your teen probably doesn’t know
much about your work.

Sharing your experiences

is a great way to give an
example of how career
goals or dreams are
shaped and changed.
Start by sharing what
your day-to-day job involves or what decisions led to
your career. Be honest about things you might have
changed or choices you made that really paid off.
You can also share what you like most or least about
the jobs you’ve had, how skills learnedin a variety of
settings help you in different ways, or how your
education connected to your career path. Remember,
the goal is to give your teen a close-to-home example
of a real career path.

The fourth option is to find interests and strengths.

This includes their top classes, sports, or hobbies,
which can offer clues into what kind of work they
might enjoy.

Interests might not directly translate (because your

teen likes crime shows doesn’t mean they should be
a forensic scientist), but they can be a good place to
start pinpointing what activities, environments,
or work styles your teen connects with. The more a
career meets their interests and strengths, the more
likely they will find it satisfying and rewarding.

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There are many ways to identify such interests, skills,
and personality strengths. They range from
simple (sitting down and brainstorming a list) to more
complex (taking a career aptitude test like the Keirsey
Temperament Sorter or the Jung Typology Test).

One easy way to get started is by asking

outside-the-box questions:

“If you had your own TV show, what would it be about?”

“What interests you in a way that you’d want to

share it with the world?”

“In your idea world, what would your work location look
like? Is it an office? Outdoors at a national park? Are you
on the road? Are you surrounded by people? Or are you
by yourself, quietly working away?”

“Fill in the blank: When my friends need help

with ______, they come to me.”

“Are you usually the one to settle arguments?”

“Are you always asked to proofread your friends’

papers? Or do they come to you for news on the latest
video game to hit the shelves?”

In the end, your goal is to help your teen identify

interests and strengths they can apply to a career. Using
these questions, you can encourage your teen
to create a list of their top interests and strengths.

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Yet another option,
according to
InsideJobs, is to
research careers. This
includes exploring
online resources
with your teen.,
for example, has 15,000+ career profiles that detail
what a job involves, average salary, and education
requirements. It also lets your teen sort careers by
category (such as science and computers), interests,
skills, or favorite school subject. The goal here is to
help your teen discover a career area of interest.
Encourage your teen to create a list of the top
five careers, or career areas – like marketing or
engineering – that they find interesting.

The last option in guiding your teen is to connect the

dots between education and careers. At this
point, once your teen as found a career area that
appeals to them, the next step is to figure out what
education they will need to succeed. Post-high
school education is crucial for your teen’s career.

Not all jobs require education after high school,

but getting a certificate or degree opens the door to
more career choices, higher paying jobs, and bigger
opportunities for your teen. Whether through a
technical institute, community college, or university,
the majority of jobs in the future will require
some kind of education after high school. The bottom
line is: the more education, the higher the salary.

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What are the key characteristics that employers desire
in new employees? First, they look for effective
communication skills. This includes clear and concise
messages, tailoring messages to certain audiences,
appropriate communication, and appropriate
communication channels at the appropriate time.

They also look for real-world critical thinking skills. This

includes time management, situational analysis,
developing creative solutions, and following through on
action plans.

Other requirements are the ability to work in a team

structure, work ethic and dependability, flexibility,
technical knowledge related to the job, proficiency with
computer software programs, the ability to
create and/or edit written reports, and the ability to sell
and influence others.

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What Employers Can Do
We’ve heard enough
about the dangers of
giving Millennials and
iY too much. So, as
employers and
business professionals,
what can we do to
help them succeed?

According to Forbes, The Ivey Business Journal, and

Intelligence Group, the following professional
drivers are more important than salary and benefits
for young workers:

• Giving Back and BeingCivically Engaged

• A Boss that Acts as a Coach or Mentor

• A Collaborative Work Environment

• Flexible Work Schedules

• Work-Life Balance

• Feedback & Engagement

• Encouragement

• Professional Development

• Personal Projects

• Leadership Opportunities

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Be objective and aware when it comes to the
assumptions and stereotypes about iY. No two workers
are exactly the same. Consider these benefits to iY and
Millennial talent:

• Enjoy praise over pay – 80% would rather receive

feedback on a job well done (Time)

• Enjoy collaboration and working as a team over

solo work

• Flexible, mobile, have the ability to pick up and go,

open to new opportunities and locations

• Can offer insight into new target audience - more

relatable to generation that is online

• Extremely comfortable with technology, all social

media platforms (the average grad switches their
attention between media platforms as many
as 27 times per hour, according to Forbes)

• Greater ability to multi-task as a result of constant

technology plug-in

And while Fortune 500 organizations can offer spa

treatments and unlimited vacation time, here are
some things the rest of us can do to attract young
talent and keep them motivated.

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• Create an environment that allows for meaningful
work – that is, autonomy, select to fit roles,
smaller, empowered teams, and clear goals.

• Have management that cares – offer continuous

coaching without handholding. Invest in
development while still allowing the employee to
grow and learn from their own mistakes. Trust in
leadership will lead to clear objectives and support
from employees.

• Encourage a positive work environment. A culture

of recognition is best practiced in a
humanistic workplace, one where the team works
hard and plays hard. Encouraging an inclusive,
diverse work environment can create cohesive
teams and strategies and allow for flexibility as it
is business appropriate.

• Allow for growth opportunities once they are

earned. Offer training, support, and structured
development through realistic opportunities
such as lunch & learns and cross-position training.
Be clear about what it takes to move up.

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I hope this has provided some thoughts and strategies
that both parents and employers can take into
consideration as we face the iY generation and help
them prepare for the real world.

Appropriate accommodation, the encouragement

of hard work, and realistic expectations can
all help build cohesive and successful working teams
with young generations.

Sources & Attribution

Workopolis, InsideJobs, Forbes, Kate Wendleton,

New York Post, Inc., Quartz, JT O’Donnell

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Generation iY
What we MUST Prepare for and Understand as
they Enter the Workforce

About the Author

With more than two decades of experience in Recruiting and HR,

Steve Lowisz is a highly regarded global educator on all things talent.
Steve’s passion is to equip business professionals with effective talent
acquisition and retention strategies. Steve is the force behind The
Recruitment Education Institute and the author of the forthcoming
book, “Recruit or Get Out of the Way.”

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