Millennials and Talent Acquisition – Promises Promises

China Gorman, a consultant who helps organizations connect HR operations to the bottom line, gave a presentation not long ago that shocked everyone in the room. She had cited a statistic from the Aberdeen Group’s Strategic Talent Acquisition Report.

Millennial employees go into new jobs expecting to stay at least 5 years, and yet they depart after an average of 1.5 years. The 1.5 years stat surprises no one, I’m sure. After all, everyone knows that Millennials are the most disloyal employees out there. They are known to use their free-wheeling twenties and thirties to pop in and out of organizations all over the place. Before you even have the chance to get a nameplate on their cubicle, they’re gone.

It was the first part of the Aberdeen stat that had us all aghast. Apparently, Millennials like and anticipate stability more than we thought. They look forward to staying at a company long enough to make their mark, develop professionally, and move up. So what’s going wrong between that initial acceptance of the job offer and the resignation that comes far sooner than anyone planned? Allow me to speculate on some potential causes.

Their expectations are too high

A Millennial goes into a new job – particularly a first job after college – believing it will be the be all, end all of career satisfaction. They will wow the higher-ups, save the company if not the world, and achieve stardom in a single bound. Unfortunately, this is not exactly how it works out, and they are gravely disappointed.

Companies have great branding

In the recruiting world, there has been a major emphasis on employer branding as of late. Organizations are pouring lots of effort and resources into showcasing why they are the best places to work. The only trouble is, often the reality doesn’t live up to the hype. Millennials jump ship because what the career experience they’re getting is vastly inferior to the experience they were promised.

Onboarding processes leave something to be desired

Most organizations have been slow to realize that employee orientation is more than just a half-day in a conference room and a folder full of forms. Millennial hires, who are prone to making quick and irreversible judgments about a new employer, will be ready to quit the minute their boss leaves them stranded in an empty office on their first day. True onboarding fully engages the team of the new employee and takes place over a period of weeks. Yes, it must be strategic, and yes, it must be planned well in advance.

They can’t move up

The Baby Boomers lost their retirement savings in the recession, and now they’ve bottlenecked the promotion pipeline for the Gen X-ers and the Millennials. Younger professionals aren’t going anywhere in many organizations until the Boomers finally vacate. The X-ers don’t mind as much right now because they’re busy with aging parents and growing kids. But the Millennials are far less patient.

Millennials, please chime in.  How long did you stay at your last job?  How long did you intend to stay initially, and what changed?














Alexandra Levit

Alexandra Levit’s goal is to help people find meaningful jobs - quickly and simply - and to succeed beyond measure once they get there. Follow her @alevit.

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  • Karem Elizondo Cova

    I am a Millennial, born 1984, can’t lie over-confident and self-conscious, raised with the idea that i deserve the best of the best,and that i was responsible of choosing what made me happy, received the best education and always thought i would work in a big company, with a great salary and dream on working at HP. Graduated and got the call and the position @ HP, loved the 1st day and knew i would be here for a long time, now after 5 years still think want to work at Hewlett Packard until I retire, probably don’t make as much as i thought i would, but have and had great managers who helped me with my career, educational and personal plans, setting clear goals and expectations. i had many career opportunities and I know i am the person for the position, love what I do. As a people manager working with 80+ Millennials, i would say setting clear expectations, helping them understand how they contribute to the company and helping them with their career plan really helps them engage and commit. Branding helps a lot, but people managers have the greatest challenge with this generation, many negative things on my generation, but many positive things as well. my advise is to keep this generation challenged. companies must evolve to work with mixed generations and think HP has done a great job. #ILoveHp.

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  • Millenial1987

    I too am a Millenial, 1987. I think that many of the authors points ring true but the article is missing the bigger picture. It is the changing nature of work that has resulted in a lack of loyalty in the younger generation. Our parents worked at the same company for their entire careers. They had job security. Today’s labor market is filled with freelance, temporary and part time positions. There are no benefits, none of the perks that the previous generation enjoyed. People are forced to float from job to job with no end in sight. During the recession my generation saw thousands people layed off, people who had worked at companies for forty years had their pensions cut. So it is no wonder that when we do find full time permanent employment that we do not feel loyalty to the companies we work for. Loyalty goes both ways.

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