Stop. Drop. Next Payroll

In my last year of college the most common thing I heard from my peers when they would describe their career plans to either a parent or a professor was something like, “Yeah, I’m going to do this for a year or two and then [go to grad school, get a better job, be promoted, etc].”  Granted, many of today’s graduates flock to consulting firms immediately after college where the industry norm is skewed towards a higher turn-over rate, but even in traditionally less-fluid fields, managers have typically come to expect that millennials only intend to stay with a company for a few years. I know many business owners who hesitate to hire recent college grads for this very reason.

“Millennials are constantly chasing upward mobility and they’ll just quit in six months anyway when they don’t get promoted.”

Let’s try and dissect that stigma from a different angle. If Company A would make you a supervisor tomorrow, why should you stay at Company B for five years in the hopes you might be made a supervisor? That sounds like a no-brainer, right? According to common perceptions, if a millennial was faced with that situation they’d basically act out fire-safety protocol. Stop (Thinking about a future at Company B). Drop (What they were doing and make for the exit). Next Payroll (Pause at HR to ensure their last check goes to their new address before posting their new employment title on LinkedIn).

But as awesome as Company A’s offer might be, that kind of offer is, despite our expectations, quite rare. It doesn’t matter that you got straight A’s and wrote an amazing thesis on medieval Slavic kingdoms and chances are, your boss is not just “ignorant.” (Except yours of course. Totally wrong all the time, right? Gosh!) Corporate development, and thus promotions, take time, even though we often think we’d excel at being a manager if we’d only just get the chance.  So for the majority of us that work for Company B-type places, what are we supposed to do?

What I wanted to know in the third question of my survey was do millennials really have this “ebb and flow” attitude initially when it comes to our careers? Do we actually want, like the woman in our tag photo, to leap from precipice to precipice every year or two in the hopes of leap-frogging into upper management, or do we simply do it because we think that that is the only way we’ll ever succeed?


It would appear initially to be the latter. When asked, “What is the Best Way to the Top?” not a single participant said that they thought staying with the same company was the best way to get there. However nearly half of everyone surveyed said they would stay where there are provisionally, but would always be seeking new opportunities. Admittedly, the old-school model of staying with Company B for 45 years and then retiring isn’t nearly as prevalent as it once was. Yet for not a single participant to say that they envisioned their own success at a single company is interesting. The other half of participants, in various forms, agreed that they couldn’t see their career routed to one company, and, even from base camp, took their responses one-step further and consciously expected themselves to make moves.

 So what can we take away from this? We know already from this survey that millennials are fairly diverse in why we chose our first job and that a majority of us are seeking to be somewhere around upper management. Adding these newest results to the mix, do diverse backgrounds and elevated drive make us extra sensitive to company’s more rigid cultures? Nearly a quarter of millennials surveyed said they saw no future at all at their current job. Is that just because we are so focused on where we want to be that we become impatient with where we currently are when we don’t advance as quickly as we’d like to? Or do we as millennials have greater expectations initially than previous generations and a greater willingness to forge our own paths to the top, even if it mean going through a dozen companies instead of just one?

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