People in this age group number approximately 80 million and already make up 25 percent of the U.S. workforce.

Share story

For years now, the millennial generation (aka Generation Y) has been a punching bag for social commentators from the previous generations. Those born between 1980 and 2000, they say, have an inordinate sense of entitlement, are addicted to technology, have poor interpersonal skills and crave constant attention as a result of being raised by “helicopter moms.” Even Fortune 500 CEOs, such as Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo, feel the need to write the parents of outstanding employees to give them praise.

Regardless of whether these character traits are true, people in this age group number approximately 80 million and already make up 25 percent of the U.S. workforce, according to a recent white paper called 3 Things Every Employer Needs to Know About Millennials, by renowned Gen Y expert Lindsey Pollack. The oldest members of this demographic are over 30 and taking on management roles. By 2025, Pollack writes, millennials will make up about three-quarters of the workforce. One of them will probably be your boss someday — if not already.

This may seem unnerving to those of us who were alive when disco was invented, but the behaviors described in Pollack’s report are remarkably similar to what many hiring managers are looking for today. Can these millennials really teach us old fogeys a thing or two about career change?

1. Describe your dream job. Many career coaches say it’s best to form an image in your mind about the position you are most passionate about, rather than forcing your talents into someone else’s job description. Perhaps no demographic today is better equipped for this than millennials, who tend to want a customized experience, with their own hours, workspaces and career paths, Pollack suggests.

2. Develop a track record of your achievements. Being given “awards” for participation may seem silly in grade school. But in the professional world, accolades can lead to a progressive paper trail to impress hiring managers. “Millennials crave recognition, feedback and rewards,” Pollack writes. “They want to be guided, coached and trained; they want to improve.” All great qualities in a new hire.

3. Be up to date on technical knowledge. Scoff about social media addiction if you must, but millennials “grew up with screens all around them,” Pollack writes. As a result, most of them are on the cutting edge of the latest software trends and are comfortable with the various mobile applications that are now driving so much of today’s economy.

Randy Woods is a writer and editor in the Puget Sound business publishing arena and a veteran of the local job-search scene. Email him at