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5 Ways Millennials Are Choosing Unique Career Paths

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As of 2016, millennials became the largest generation in our country’s workforce. One-third of Americans currently working were born between the years 1981 and 1996 — which equates to roughly three million more laborers than the previous generation, Gen X. Only the Baby Boomer generation, those born between the years 1946-1964, have had a higher presence in the history of our country’s labor force. With so many individuals competing in the job market, these 56 million men and women are finding unique and innovative routes to their careers.

How Career Trends Have Changed Over the Decades

In the 1980s, there was a need for workers to staff high-technology positions. Many were flocking to companies that not only created new technologies, but also applied them in new contexts. At the same time, there were shortages of degree-holding graduates in fields like telecommunications and engineering.

In the 1990s, there was a huge demand for educated engineers, as well as paralegals, accountants, and those in the service sector. At the start of the new Millennium, the three fastest-growing careers involved computer software engineers and specialists.

In the 2010s, some of the predicted fastest-growing jobs included positions in a variety of industries like personal care and home health aides, biomedical engineers, masons, metalworkers, and carpenters, as well as veterinarian technologists and assistants. Peering into the future, experts suggest that the best jobs in the next decade will include everything from app developers and nurse practitioners to dental hygienists and personal financial advisors.

Over the last forty years, the landscape of the job market has continued to change as occupational needs presented themselves. As the market adjusts, the requirements for securing a position change just as dramatically. For instance, an associate’s degree was once enough to secure a position as a nurse practitioner. Now, many healthcare facilities are requiring their nurses to obtain a four-year degree before being considered for employment. With the uncertainty of how the job market will change, it’s no surprise that millennials’ career expectations are changing, too.

Millennial Career Expectations

Millennials aren’t just looking for a decent living salary from a job or a safe career that won’t be disrupted or diluted by changes in the industry. They value purpose over paychecks. These individuals want a career where they feel like they’re making a difference in the world and where they feel like their work matters on a grander scale. If they believe the work they’re accomplishing positively impacts society, they’re more likely to feel fulfilled with their jobs, value their company, and remain content in their role.

Money is a powerful motivator, but achieving happiness seems to be the true goal for millennials in the workforce. Some of these individuals would sacrifice as much as $7,600 in pay if it meant receiving non-monetary benefits that increased their happiness. How does this group define happiness? One benefit that ties to their feelings of purposefulness is the ability to create an impact in society. Paid time off specifically allocated for volunteering purposes and company-matched charitable contributions are two benefits millennials seek.

Millennials also want their careers to support their lives outside of work, financially and otherwise. They desire careers that provide them with flexible work schedules that include options for working from home, more personal time in the office, and the ability to work hours outside of the traditional 9-5 block. They also want careers that allow them to prioritize their families, which includes flexibility to accomplish their workload while tending to their parents or children. Millennials understand that work is important, but their lives ultimately take priority.

Millennials believe that opportunities for career growth and professional development are just as important as the typical company-provided benefits.

Millennial Employer Expectations

The millennial’s drive for fulfillment doesn’t stop at the industry. They want to be happy in their chosen company as well. However, these individuals aren’t just looking for their employers to meet their expectations — they’re holding their managers and leadership team accountable, too. Pay raises and promotions aren’t the top incentives millennials desire. Steady positions with the standard benefits are not enough. Most millennials believe that opportunities for career growth and professional development are just as important as the typical company-provided benefits.

They also want their employer’s benefits and company culture to reflect their own values. Though millennials will consider other job opportunities if they don’t feel fulfilled at their present company, they will stay devoted to a company that they believe is acting in the best interest of their employees and society as a whole. Retirement options, college savings plans, and tuition reimbursement programs show a company’s investment in their employees, while a company’s philanthropic contributions and active support in the local community demonstrate their corporate social responsibility.

How Millennials Are Navigating the Job Market

The job-hunting process has changed drastically. Instead of searching all job postings in the newspaper, millennials can narrow down their job search to specific roles, salaries, and companies through a variety of sources online. Virtual job searching also enables them to garner mass amounts of feedback from customers and employees from just as many websites. With the ability to research pay grades, job roles and responsibilities, company reputations, and interview advice at their fingertips, millennial job seekers are more confident in the ways they forge their career paths.

5 Ways Millennials Are Choosing Unique Career Paths

As they navigate the job market, millennials are taking alternate routes to progress down their career paths. Instead of building a specific career within a single company, millennials are much more open to change and diversity. Many are even willing to take on the position that is unrelated to their college major or previous work experience. The fact is that millennials are opting for a “choose your own adventure” style of career journey rather than following the traditional route of career building. There are five reasons why millennials can choose these unique career paths:

Instead of building a specific career within a single company, millennials are much more open to change and diversity.

1. Millennials Aren’t Afraid to Seek Employment Elsewhere to Grow Their Careers

Millennials change jobs often. It’s estimated that one-quarter of millennials will have worked five different jobs by the time they turn 35. Many employers only expect their recently graduated millennials to stay with their company for a maximum of two years. However, job-hopping is becoming common in industries like non-profit, education, government, and media sectors.

The concept of job-hopping was once poorly viewed by hiring managers. If an employee couldn’t hold a consistent position for a moderate amount of time, they were viewed as unreliable, uncertain of their professional goals, and not worth investing in. Some managers believe that an employee should stay at a company for a minimum of two years and an average of three to five, ideally. Why then are millennials fearlessly job-hopping from one employer to another despite the potential for negative judgment?

One chief reason is for the money. Most employees can expect to make an average of a two to three percent raise at their current company on an annual basis. Switching jobs, however, could land an employee as from as little as an eight to 10 percent raise to a whopping 20 percent or more. In some cities, the cost of living has risen from 23 to 35 percent within a year — from a financial standpoint, millennials aren’t settling for less than what’s available.

2. They Aren’t Afraid to Dive Into Another Industry, Either

Another reason why millennials aren’t afraid to hop from job to job is that they desire more than they’re currently receiving from their employer in areas other than pay grade. They’re also seeking out a better fit for their personal and professional growth, which includes aspects like company culture and in-house developmental opportunities. If they don’t believe these needs are being met, they aren’t hesitant to reinstate their job search. For 50 percent of millennials, this includes possibly relocating. For another 16 percent, this means switching industries.

Millennials are opting to move away from industries like retail, nonprofit, government, and media and instead are finding new opportunities within the growing fields of tech, healthcare, and finance. The tech industry continues to expand in ways that cater to job seekers of diverse backgrounds, and millennials, who are more likely to be skilled in computer programming and design, are ideal fits for these in-demand jobs. If they possess the skills for a position and the company aligns with their wants and needs, millennials will confidently switch industries.

3. Millennials Will Choose Fulfillment and Passion Over Status and Pay Grade

Although nearly half of employees claim that they consider a significant boost in salary to be a priority, millennials desire something that money can’t necessarily buy — fulfillment. Not only do they want their companies and performance to make an impact in the world, but they also want their roles to make an impact on themselves. Millennials seek work that gives them a sense of meaning and purpose.

Millennials Will Choose Fulfillment and Passion Over Status and Pay Grade

They also want to be passionate in their work and engage in opportunities for learning and growth. Millennials value performance feedback, constructive criticism and the ability to strive for clear and measured goals. Their leadership team is a huge factor in achieving this feeling. Employees want to develop a rapport with their managers or supervisors and discuss opportunities for improvement. They value leadership that motivates and encourages them to learn, grow, and succeed. This professional involvement strengthens their personal investment in the company and their individual role.

4. Millennials Are Networking in New Ways

Traditional networking events are falling by the wayside. Although they were once touted as an indispensable resource for building relationships and socializing with others within the industry, these structured events now lack the necessary effectiveness that many millennials desire. While millennials do acknowledge the importance of growing and maintaining a supportive network, they’re connecting with and engaging this network in vastly different ways. Before face-to-face interactions, many millennials use social media platforms to make introductions and learn about each other. Digital icebreakers remove the awkwardness of formal introductions.

As for their in-person interactions, they’re trading the traditional, formalized networking events for activities that contain more inherent opportunities to bond on more than a professional level. Parents, for instance, value work-life integration and will multitask whenever possible. Scheduling networking playdates with other parents who have children of the same age range allows them to build and maintain both personal and professional relationships.

Other networking activities that foster genuine connections with peers are equally important. Millennials are less interested in joining large groups at company happy hours or similar networking mixers. Instead, they’d rather engage in a more intimate setting with a smaller group at functions like dinner parties. They’re also interested in interacting with these small groups during high-energy activities geared toward fitness and team sports. Attending group training sessions at gyms or working together in an active environment is a much more appealing and frugal alternative to something like playing golf.

5. Millennials Seek the Thrill of Something New

Millennials Seek the Thrill of Something New

For some millennials, it’s not enough to land a job with a company that is safe, steady, and conventional. In their quest to find fulfillment through their passions or personal interests, many of these individuals are opting to create their own jobs no matter how unconventional their endeavor may be. Instead of attempting to climb the corporate ladder and achieve a coveted position in management, millennials would rather start their own businesses. They’re more willing to try and fail than never try at all.

This generation also views their jobs as extensions of their identities, which is something they may not find at a large or impersonal corporation. The balance between work and personal life is key to this identity — without the flexibility to find fulfillment in their home or family lives, they may lose passion for their professional lives. Working for themselves or working for a startup over a traditional or established company gives them the opportunity to indulge their craving for stimulation while devoting adequate time to their personal interests.

Forge Your Own Career Path With Help From Vista College

If you’re a millennial who wants to navigate your career on your terms, we invite you to explore our curriculum and take our classes throughout our campuses and online. We understand that your schedule is as unique as your career path, which is why our programs feature day and night class options. Our accelerated courses give you the knowledge and training you need, so you can swiftly move to the next phase of your career. As a graduate, you’ll also receive free, lifetime employment support to help you continue advancing.

Forge Your Own Career Path With Help From Vista College

The landscape of the job market is constantly changing, and millennials are the ones enacting much of that change. As you prepare to finish your education or enter into college for the first time, let Vista College provide you with a foundation for a bright future. We’ll give you the skills and resources that will help you progress through your career path. Call today to speak with one of our Admissions Representatives and learn more about the different programs Vista College offers.


Career Search for Millenials

Check out the infographic below to explore how millennials are searching for and finding unique career paths.



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