Gen Y Millennials are a curious bunch. They are now in their prime family formation and home buying age. However, back in 2014, when I first wrote this post, I began to wonder whether Gen Y Millennials were screwing themselves on purpose. Let me explain.
The Plight Of Gen Y Millennials
A 25 year old acquaintance just told me he quit his startup of two years because “it felt too much like work.” What? Run that by me again, because these old ears don’t understand the logic. He told me the company is doing fine and the rest of the five person team are as dedicated as ever. He just wants to take a break and do his own thing. I thought he was doing his own thing!
I’ve never heard of someone quitting their own company because it felt too much like work. A bad business model, profitability issues, a fall out with fellow partners, 10+ years of the same thing…. fine. But too much work? Ridiculous. Good things don’t magically appear. There’s no such thing as a quarter life crisis. We’ve got to put in our dues and work like no other just for the chance of making it!
Although I do my best to empathize with folks 10+ years my junior, sometimes I just can’t understand their thought process. I’m not sure if I’m stupid, or simply ancient in beliefs. Perhaps it’s a little of both as each generation always seems to look at the next generation with peculiarity. If you are a Gen Yer I sure could use your perspective!
Related: Don’t Make Over $400,000 A Year: You Will Suffer Too Much
Gen Y Millennials Feeling Special And Proud
If you’re constantly being told you’re special growing up as a Gen Y Millennial, it’s going to be hard admitting blowups to your friends and family. It’s hard to admit getting laid off in my generation as well, but I find we are more open with our setbacks. We open up because we need help!
2008-2010 were brutal times. People were getting fired left and right as firms cut costs. It was customary to pray to Paulson, Bernanke, Congress, and Obama our saviors. There is no shame in getting laid off or fired during this time period. Yet, for some reason, very few will ever admit getting retrenched.
When you read someone’s bio that says they “quit their job to pursue their passions” in the fall of 2009, understand this is whale poop. Nobody quits their job when the world is coming to an end unless they are already wealthy. Certainly not a 24 year old with barely any experience who starts a site to tell you how to follow your dreams!
Nobody Quits When Times Are Brutal
Because everybody knows that nobody quits their job voluntarily during Armageddon, I wonder if Gen Y is screwing themselves by keeping quiet. Gen Y’s don’t hire Gen Y’s. Gen X+’s hire Gen Y’s. When managers come across someone who claims they quit their job to pursue a dream during the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, the resume gets tossed into the bin due to a lack of authenticity.
It’s the same way with business school students who graduate two or three years after a downturn and say they quit their jobs to go to business school. Those in hiring positions know the reason why business school applications soar 30-40% during a recession is because people are getting blown up! The bottom 10% during a recession go to business school, not the top 10%. They are surviving and maybe even thriving.
For all of you who made it through the downturn, don’t be surprised if our younger, better looking friends just call us “lucky.”
Just Admit The Truth
Whenever someone senses a lie, not only will they not like you, some will go to no end to discredit you. It’s much better off to say, “I was let go due to the economic downturn and decided to go pursue my dreams as a travel photographer because I had nothing to lose,” than respond with some sensational answer like, “Life is too short and I quit my job to follow my true calling.” People have a natural tendency to help those in need.
I’ve interviewed hundreds of candidates before and I will unequivocally tell you that all bullshitters don’t pass the first round. Bullshit detectors are tuned to the highest of sensitivity. It’s also why the act of saying and writing what we don’t know is a big time head scratcher.
How on earth can you talk about having a great career if you’ve only worked for three years? Can you really talk about the benefits of homeownership if you’ve never owned before? How can you talk about being such a great investor when you’ve only got $5,000 to invest? Don’t bullshit us.
As soon as you tell the truth, you will gain advocates. Not only do you engender trust, you gain empathy.
Related: Examples Of Good Resumes That Get Jobs
Gut Things Out For The Long Term, Gen Y Millennials!
Be patient. It’s ludicrous to think a 25 year old deserves the same amount of wealth and recognition as someone who’s spent 20 years longer working. I’m worried people don’t get this disconnect. Compare yourself with someone your own age or with the same experience for goodness sake. Here are some examples where long term thinking triumphs.
It often takes a full year before your match and vesting kicks in. After another time frame hurdle, you not only get a match but also company profit sharing. For the past 8 years, my friend Tod has receive a match + profit sharing of $23,000 a year. Add that to his $17,000 contribution and that’s $40,000 a year! Multiply $40,000 a year X 8 years and that’s $320,000 sitting in his 401K.
If someone keeps hopping firms every few years, they lose out on such benefits. See: How Much Should I Have Saved In My 401k By Age?
Real estate investing
Transaction costs are high in real estate thanks to a powerful lobby group which insists on charging at least a 5% commission to sell a property. Even Zillow and Trulia cannot lower such egregious pricing because they are part of the machine.
By holding real estate for decades, it’s easier to digest such costs thanks to the magic of inflation and consistent debt repayment. Just look at how wealthy our grandparents got with their real estate holdings. Now compare them to the typical homeowner who owns for 5.9 years and complains why they can’t make any money. See: Buy Real Estate As Young As You Possible Can
Getting An Education
If you decide on going to college, you better finish college unless you are filthy rich. You should also narrow down your desired areas of study to no more than three things and make a decision by sophomore year. Can you imagine taking out $50,000 in student loans and quitting junior year because you decide anthropology is not for you?
My close friend is just finishing up 10 years of medical school and fellowship after college to become a cardiologist in New York City. 10 years is a long time, but now at the age of 33, he’ll be starting at around $350,000 a year and is set for life.
Related: Public Or Private School?
Go To Confession Already
Time is more on the side of the Young than for the rest of us bozos. However, unless there can be an admission of failure, it doesn’t matter how much time a young person has, s/he is doomed.
Admit failure and mediocrity. Admit being too entitled to work hard and move on! Accept failure as a blessing as it makes each successive try that much more promising. Nobody will blame you about losing your job or living at home since the 2008-2009 financial crisis. The downturn was so bad, EVERYBODY gets a free pass. Hurry up. The whole world is waiting.
Related: No Wonder Why Millennials Don’t Give A Damn About Money!
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Photo: A wanderlust in Wandermunde, Germany. SD. Updated for 2017 and beyond.
C. Reeves says
We live in a time where massive social and economic change can happen in a heartbeat. Some of America’s oldest and most respected institutions are fighting a war of survival. To participate in the game a high school grad has to take on significant risk in the form of student loans AND find a novel way to create real value in a world that is struggling to define itself. Working as a teen, employers valued my work ethic. Today, it still has value but seems to have taken a backseat to political sauve. I am one of the fortunate ones; bright enough to complete a STEM degree and stubborn enough to finally make a reasonable living in industry. There were many in my field that could not. The Internet reduces the costs of everything, especially labor.
To the many that lament that employers do not about us, they never did. We are a means to an end, a sort of truck that drinks coffee and demands health benefits. The simple math is that the number of people that can add value is dwindling. And if you can’t help your group, maybe couch surfing and carving powder in Denver is not the worst use of your time.
We’ve seen 401ks and defined benefit programs take serious haircuts when push comes to shove. I wonder what sacred cow will be sacrificed tomorrow?
Wow this article is kind of surprising. I’m a Millennial who never had the luxury of feeling special or “doing what you love.” I work hard, but have been laid off– twice. I don’t think anyone in my generation expects to be laid off multiple times by their early 30’s. I have people in my life who think I did something to deserve the layoffs, as if I didn’t work hard enough. All of my coworkers and I worked hard, but we know employers don’t actually care about us.
Ok, so the generation issue is less about generations, maturity, and more about technology and availability of data.
Previous generations had to work for “how to” and thus were forced to focus on the important dreams, whims usually ended by the time you made it through chapter 1 of that library book.
We grew up partially of need to be more focused.
Gen yers get loads of info, with no effort. Add in the problem that half the info is incomplete or wrong, and you have gen yers thinking brain surgery is a 2 hour night course or a youtube how to video. They see people making big bucks, and with ease of info, and a couple of youtube info videos can become experts in their mind. While I am acting extreme, the subtle reality is there, gen yers get everything so easily, hard work was never an issue. They never had to research their papers at the library, or find a payphone to check in.
The flip side is the world will change to adjust to them as a need. So old school programmers like myself will be tasked with developing a world they can be “lazy in” and if we are wise and hit it just right, we will come out ahead.
The downside for the future, is being “special” is something reserved for gen xers and before, after all how can you compete with 7 billion other connected people in the world, and be special enough to see it. Hence gen yers have a much more difficult life, one where meaning is hard to find. Gen x made fun of the suberbs as drones and mindless people, but what we didn’t know is that we are making fun of our children.
It’s funny, I’m Gen-X and the whole “do your passion for a living” idea didn’t even *exist* with my group back then. Our mentality was, “My folks kicked me out of the house at 19 to fend for myself so I must find work to get money for rent, food, and beer otherwise I’m completely screwed and will either starve to death or end up begging on the street.” People also conveniently forget about the Reagan/Thatcher/Mulroney recession that happened from 1989-93 where nobody our age could find any sort of job. It was brutal! Gen-X entering the workforce at the time didn’t have it easy at all–I would venture to say it was much more difficult than 2008 because there were nowhere near as many resources for education, training, social support, or job hunting. We were broke. *All the time.*
“Do what you love…,” was a massive joke! What? Be in a band like the Ramones? They were broke too. (Green Day didn’t exist–it was unheard of that somebody could actually make money at punk rock.) Luck was when your parents felt sorry for your starving ass and deposited $20 into your back account. If I’d asked them to spot me for a $400 phone they would have laughed until they died of heart attacks.
So maybe it depends on where you land in your gen’s spectrum, but graduating out of high school in 1990 sucked. …Big time! I don’t think I knew a single person who felt “entitled” to anything. We got loser jobs because there was no other option at all.
Financial Samurai says
Interesting perspective Edward. I wasn’t looking for a job in 1989-93, so it’s curious to hear about the time. So what are you ending up doing now?
Maybe the “do what you love” mantra is really doing a disservice to the Millennial generation as they wake up 10 years later and have this “OH SHIT” moment.
Frank Bonetti says
I don’t think it’s fair to characterize all Gen Y’s as being reckless job-hoppers. You may think that it is foolish to leave behind stable careers in order to ‘pursue one’s dreams’ – but this behavior can actually be beneficial if it leads to better career and business opportunities. People who play it safe by sticking it out in soul-sucking jobs are actually doing themselves a disservice since they will never reach peak productivity in fields they loath. Passion is what drives an excellent work ethic, which in turn yields high income in the long run. One has to at least like the work one does in order to put in the work necessary to become an expert.
After graduating from college 2 years ago, I landed a job that paid $45,000. Not a ton of money obviously, but it was the most amount of money I had ever made up to that point. I was thrilled at first but soon came to hate the job and my performance suffered. It forced me to really think hard about what I wanted with my life. And then I took action.
Fast forward 2 years and I now work in an entirely different field (programming), doing what I love, making $80,000 a year (almost twice as much). Rather than playing it safe by sticking it out in a job I hated and slowly climbing the corporate ladder, I took my financial future into my own hands by launching my own consulting business. This eventually allowed me land my current job.
Sure, there are plenty of people who just up and quit without a plan, but some of us jump ship so that we can increase our incomes AND do something we enjoy.
Financial Samurai says
Congrats on the new job. Just try and stick that one out for 5-10 years if you can.