Job Tenure: A Millennial’s Perspective

That's not a valid work email account. Please enter your work email (e.g.
Please enter your work email

special sepia toned photo f/x, focus point on eyeTo stay at my current job or not to stay, that is the question. Here are the facts:

-According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of January 2012, today’s average worker stays at each of his or her jobs for 4.6 years, a .2 increase from the median tenure two years earlier.

-According to the Future Workplace Multiple Generations @ Work survey, a whopping 91 percent of Millennials — those born between 1977 and 1997 — anticipate to stay at a job for less than three years. As Future Workplace Partner Jeanne Meister put it, “That means they (Millennials) would have 15 – 20 jobs over the course of their working lives!”

-According to the 2012 Candidate Behavior Study by CareerBuilder and Inavero, 81 percent of Millennials are either actively searching for new jobs or are open to new opportunities, regardless of their current employment status.

So, the notion out there is that Millennials are “job-hoppers.” I’ve heard it all: Millennials lack work ethic, we aren’t ready for “real” jobs, we’re spoiled, we don’t want to pay our dues… the list can go on and on.

Now, I cannot speak for every Millennial, but as a former journalism major in school, I witnessed countless peers of mine who were willing to live off of $17,000/year to be the lowly entry-level worker in a newsroom, or move to a small town in the middle of nowhere to become a reporter at a local TV station. And I know many who are doing these things and more; many Millennials are starting at the bottom and working their way up, without complaining.

Are we more likely to change jobs after one or two years? Or seek advancements (high positions) in a company even though we haven’t been there that long? Do we request more pay as months go by? The answer is “yes” to all of the above.

Why, you ask? Well, we simply have a different perspective.

Before I graduated and was about to head off to the big city for my first post-college internship, my supervisor gave me some advice. He said:

If you’re unhappy at a job and you aren’t having fun and don’t enjoy your work, leave. I don’t care how much money you make. If it’s not fun, you get out. Life is too short not to do what you love.

His advice reflects what so many of us Millennials have been reared on our entire lives. Just look at our values:

-According to the Talent Report: What Workers Want in 2012 report by NetImpact, 73 percent of Millennials reported that a job where they can make an impact is essential to their happiness compared to just 53 percent of other workers. This requirement came third with only marriage and financial security above it.

A prestigious career, wealth, children and community leadership each followed.

Pertaining to an ideal job, Millennials reported the following factors as non-negotiable:

-Work/life balance (88 percent)

-Positive culture (91 percent)

-Employer has similar values (74 percent)

-Make a better world (65 percent)

So, what do all these stats tell you? Millennials want to enjoy life and a huge part of that is having a career that not only makes a difference, but is balanced with all other areas of their lives. If we aren’t getting that from one job, we will not hesitate to seek it from another.

Now don’t get me wrong, Millennials were taught to tough it out, not make hasty decisions and the value in working hard now even in a situation that’s not ideal to get to where you desire to be someday. But, unlike the mindset of other generations, we aren’t going to let that process go on for years and years.

Millennials were constantly told that we are the future. We are the innovators, the creators, the next businessmen and businesswomen. That we have the power to direct our lives and that no dream is too big and no standard is set to high. That’s why you’re bound to see many of us ditch corporate America to become entrepreneurs or go down uncommon career paths, especially for young people. It’s because the ideas of pursuing passions at all costs and doing what you love is true success are engrained in us.

I believe a lot of things in society have a “norm” or common way they should occur, and when something or someone comes and breaks the norm, it can be viewed as negative. Difference and change are not negatives though but where the most innovations take place.

Just because Millennials may not want to work the typical 9-5, or are prone to going from job to job doesn’t mean we aren’t hard workers, nor that we won’t be successful. Most Millennials I know (including me) desire to do uncommon things, meaning we may have to take uncommon career paths, often times defining our own.

By Shala Marks