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People and Purpose, Not Promotions, Matter Most to Millennials

People and Purpose, Not Promotions, Matter Most to Millennials
Credit: avebreakmedia/Shutterstock

The millennial generation faces a tough job market. Fewer jobs and increased competition mean millennials have to get creative with their career paths. Their professional values aren't the same as older generations, resulting in a different approach to developing their career.

"Millennials simply have a different perspective," Nicole Francis, director of the Center of Recruiting Excellence at ManpowerGroup, said. "Rather than climbing the corporate ladder, they prioritize people and purpose."

A recent survey by ManpowerGroup confirms this notable difference in millennial career aspirations. Just 13 percent of millennials rank "aspiring to leadership roles" as a top career priority, the survey noted.

Millennials are focused on developing their individual skills, rather than learning to manage others, the study found. Furthermore, 35 percent want to make a positive contribution, while 25 percent want to work with great people, which contrasts with only 1 percent of those who prioritize managing others, the survey showed.

"Employers need to show millennials how taking on management roles aligns with their long-term career goals and will help make them more employable in the future," Francis said. "Demystifying leadership, breaking it down into practical, achievable and desirable skills is an important part of that."

Since millennials don't necessarily want to manage others, what do they look for in the people who manage them? Two-thirds of millennials surveyed said they are pleased with their managers. However, most ranked their own people-management style more positively than that of their managers when it comes to listening, offering feedback and giving encouragement.

"Just as annual appraisals are slowly giving way to more regular career conversations, we are seeing a significant shift in how individuals like to be managed, and with that, management styles are evolving," Francis said.

She added that, broadly speaking, the millennial generation prefers a more open and familiar relationship. Communication is a high priority, and older managers are still adjusting to this style, Francis said.

Hiring managers advise millennials to prioritize an upward path over a perfect fit, in addition to lower initial pay expectations, the survey reported. Prospective employees should also consider developing soft skills and focusing on networking.

Francis offered three tips for millennials trying to choose or change a career.

Have regular career conversations. Catch up regularly with your manager about your career path and development. Rather than annual reviews, focus on near-term objectives and implement plans to achieve them. Use these conversations to connect how your work today will enhance your career prospects and longer-term employability.

'Upskilling' will be the key to success. Increase your skills and diversify into new areas. By showing the motivation and willingness to continually learn, you'll find opportunities to develop your skills.

Focus on career variety and mobility. Take advantage of opportunities to work on different projects with different teams to build experience and connections across the organization. Networking is critical to success, and often under-utilized. You will strengthen your future opportunities if you can build a portfolio of skills and experiences.

Jennifer Post

Jennifer Post graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. Having worked in the food industry, print and online journalism, and marketing, she is now a freelance contributor for Business News Daily and business.com. When she's not working, you will find her exploring her current town of Cape May, New Jersey, or binge-watching "Pretty Little Liars" for the 700th time.