Eight ways to help the youngest job seekers
I’m 56 years old (although I still look like a callow youth). I hear members of my generation and even Gen X cursing about the Millennial Generation. I know some great Millennials and some useless ones, but I can say the same of every generation.
I was thinking about two things around this today. One is the 25 percent-plus unemployment rate among young adults. And the second is the negativity that just being between 18 and 25 can generate among those of us who are older, although I’m not sure we’re tons wiser. I have a few thoughts on how we can help them in a positive way, and an offer to make to the Millennials for my own help.
1). Give them a chance. My experience with Millennial employees has been, on the whole, positive. Give them a job and let them run with it. Guide them, but don’t micromanage. You might be surprised at what they can do.
2). Advocate for them. Millennials mostly don’t know the ropes yet. Neither did I when I was their age, and I had a ton of advantages from my dad being a politician. Be a strong advocate for younger adults on their first or second real job when they mess up, as they will…as we ALL will and did.
3). Try to remember. I’ve managed through four generations and more. I came into management quite young, so I managed some Silent Generation older men and women. Then I managed the Boomers of my generation. Then the Gen Xers. Now the Millennials. Now, I wasn’t around when the Silents were young, so I can’t speak to them, but I can speak for Boomers and Gen Xers. Everything we say about Millennials being arrogant, impolite, entitled, slackers and so on has been said about every generation. In fact, Socrates said something very similar over 2,000 years ago. You were young once. Now they are. Remember.
4). Have a sense of humor about it. I know it is annoying when a younger person thinks they have the world all figured out. But so did we all at that age. Quietly and, to yourself, chuckle a bit. After all, they’re going to get the hard lessons in life just as you did. Let them revel in their illusions for a while and have fun with it.
5). Encourage their dreams, no matter how foolish you think they are. Every great person had a really foolish dream. I can imagine a young German boy talking about flying rockets that would go to the moon and getting laughed at. Every dream is foolish — until it comes true.
6). Give them time. 25 now is like 20 was for my generation. Things were different back then. For a variety of reasons, including the draft, we had to grow up much earlier. Give the younger generations time. They’ll “get it.”
7). Learn from them. While they don’t necessarily have the experience to apply it to business, these younger adults can run circles around most of us on technical matters, social media, and so on. Don’t waste a resource. Mine it. Use it. And, young adults, be gracious about our ignorance. When I was your age phones were still attached to the wall.
8). Mentor them. Do you care about the future? Take some younger adults and become a mentor to them. No, not just young adults in your company. Encourage young adults to come to you and seek your advice.
So, I can hear, “Well, Heckers, put your time and money where your big mouth is!” Done. My wife, Nicole, and I will mentor, free, for the next six months, three young men and three young women between the ages of 18 and 25 to help them get a job and understand the ropes of the business world. No charge. We won’t sell them anything or promote anything. We won’t ask them to work as unpaid interns for us. We’ll just mentor them.
If you are interested, please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how to reach you and why you want a mentor. If you want to talk to me, call me at 720.581.4301. (We won’t try to sell you anything if you apply but aren’t chosen, either. This is NOT a sales ploy, but an honest offer of help.) I hope others of you who are older out there will also offer similar mentoring. They need you!
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