In an economy that has offered little breaks for professionals across all skill sets, this is the advice Generation Y is heeding. According to a recent study by PayScale and the Millennial Branding Group, while 63 percent of Gen Y workers (ages 18 to 29) have earned at least a bachelor’s degree, many are likely to have positions that don’t even require a college degree.
The study shows that millennials are taking jobs such as merchandise displayers (5.36 times more likely), clothing sales representatives (4.63 times more likely), and cellphone sales representatives (4.03 times more likely).
“This report confirms that Gen Y is an entrepreneurial group, highly versed in social media, and prefers freedom and flexibility over big corporate policies,” said Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding and bestselling author of Me 2.0. “There are no signs that the economy will turn around, which means Gen Y will become more entrepreneurial. They understand they have to create their own jobs instead of apply for them. A bachelor’s degree can no longer be traded in for a job.”
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that millennials will comprise more than 40 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2020, far outnumbering any other generation. Today, the metro Atlanta workforce, including Cobb, consists of 20 percent Gen Y workers. Atlanta is the 17th best city for millennials with an average median pay of $40,700.
Nancy A. Prochaska, associate professor of management and entrepreneurship for the Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University, said that today’s young professionals are adapting to the “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” economic climate.
“Expectations must be turned down a bit,” she said. (Workers) settling for underemployment are the ones who immediately seek opportunities to move up or move on. This may happen in small bits. But they will use their excellent social media skills to constantly network with friends who discover opportunities.”
Flexibility is not only the trademark of the Gen Y group, but the key to success as well. “I would say that it is a matter of being flexible, and more importantly, a matter of being practical,” said Jesse Moyers, career services specialist with Chattahoochee Technical College. “They have weathered the recession and slow rebound by taking jobs that meet their basic monetary needs, regardless of expertise or degree background.
“They are experts at adapting to changing realities, which serves them well in many arenas of their lives, including their career path,” Moyers said.
While the residual of the recession may be felt for years, Prochaska said things will improve. “Right now, the going is tough, so people are encouraged to do for themselves in an entrepreneurial way. I recommend looking around to see what skills are in demand, and polish those skills. That might mean developing improving your sales capabilities, language skills, inter-personal skills, project management, and so on.”
Michael J. Pallerino has reported on business news for magazines and newspapers in the Atlanta area for more than 20 years.
FIVE WAYS TO STAY EMPLOYABLE
* Establish your own website and get on social networks so you have a Web presence that recruiters can find.
* Tap every part of your network, including family and friends, in order to locate new opportunities.
* Attend networking events and conferences to meet industry-specific contacts.
* Make sure your latest skills are reflected on the positions you’re applying for.
* Do some pro bono work for businesses, etc., and then ask for an endorsement and recommendation.
— Source: Dan Schawbel, founder, Millennial Branding