Generation Y: The Next Lesson to Learn

Over the last five years, there has been a lot written about Generation Y – the generation that is currently in their 20’s.  One of the topics that is most prominent about the Y’s is the development of helicopter parents.

If you haven’t heard about this it will probably come as a shock.  Helicopter parents refer to the parents of college students and recent graduates that take an extremely active role in managing the lives of their children.  This management typically involves the parent(s) attending meetings with the student and teachers and job interviews.  This can include the parent questioning hiring managers and even negotiating the job offer for their child.

For many people, the idea that a person would take a parent with them to a job interview is tough to grasp.  Other generations were taught to demonstrate independence.  This new generation is comfortable seeking the advice and guidance of others.

In recent years, much of the writing on Gen Y has focused on helping hiring managers from other generations understand and attract Gen Y candidates.  We had a significant labor shortage in many areas of our economy, and companies had to change to get the best people.

As our economy slows, this labor shortage is changing into a job shortage.  The job seekers won’t be in driver’s seat. 

In some companies, this could lead to a shift in their expectations of job seekers.  Hiring managers may not cater to Gen Y candidates that maintain a visible helicopter parent the way they did.  They know that there will be other candidates that fit the hiring manager’s expectations better.

Does this mean that Gen Y needs to stop listening to their parent regarding career decisions?  Of course not – a mentor in your career is very helpful.  What it does mean is that it is very important in a tight job market to meet the expectations of a hiring manager.  Don’t expect to be able to be a rebel or maverick (it’s a little weird referring to a person, that listens their parents to an exceptional degree, as a rebel). 

This economic crisis could be the defining time for an entire generation.  Gen Y will grow from this and become the leaders of tomorrow.  They will bring both an openness to the advice and guidance of others and an independence and work ethic that will drive success.