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The Y Factor

Posted At: March 5, 2012 11:11 AM
by Lauren Cuervo

Today’s job application process would be almost unrecognizable to those joining the workforce 20, or even 10, years ago. Many companies now only post job openings online, ask prospective employees to submit all materials through their website and refuse any phone calls.

This is the reality of today’s working world. The process seems strange and impersonal, but it is setting the stage for the country’s future professionals, Generation Y. Members of this age group, also known as millennials, were born after 1980 and are now taking the workforce by storm. Based on many new aspects of the hiring process, they already have the upper hand.

Their first advantage is that today’s employee must be technologically savvy. Long gone are the days of mailing or faxing job applications. An entirely online process automatically rules out anybody who can’t search the Web efficiently or upload a Word document for their résumé. To millennials these skills are second nature, but for some of their parents and grandparents, these foreign tasks were never part of the job search.

Another advantage for Generation Y is that employers are looking to create a more diverse workforce. Diversity in the workplace has been proven to stimulate creativity and increase productivity, and most companies have caught on to this idea. Almost every corporate website has a section describing its dedication to promoting diversity and avoiding discrimination based on gender, race or sexual orientation. Their job applications even ask for basic demographic information to be provided.

This can mean only good things for millennials, who are not only members of the country’s most racially and ethnically diverse generation to date, but also the most tolerant. They are more likely to have studied abroad and have knowledge of a second language than members of other generations. This allows them to provide fresh perspectives on global issues and create a more open-minded work place than ever before.

A third advantage for millennials is that they are quickly becoming the most educated generation in the country’s history. The growing emphasis on higher education has young adults attending college in record numbers. And their years of work are paying off. The unemployment rate for college graduates is only 4.3 percent, compared with the 9.6 percent rate for those without a degree.

While it’s true no one is guaranteed a job in today’s economy, millennials are entering the market far more prepared than those before them. From the application process to the board room, they are quickly changing the workplace in America. Those looking to compete will need to have the same “y factor” as this generation.

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