October 4, 2022

Millennials are Rethinking Their Career Paths

Lauren Kemp

Millennials are entering their 40s and represent a generation that has been through significant challenges. Millennials are rethinking climbing the corporate ladder. The Great Recession, COVID-19, soaring tuition costs, and other financial recessions have contributed to millennials’ career change. Most millennials sought management positions; however, companies began to eliminate the middle management jobs sought after.

The pandemic heavily altered the economy, significantly affecting millennials’ career paths. 59% of older millennials have had their income impacted by the pandemic, and of the 1,000 United States adults aged 33 to 40 who The Harris Poll survey, 23% had their hours reduced, 15% had their wages reduced, 15% are working more hours, and 11% were laid off. 

Millenial burnout causes career path changes

Millennials, as a whole, seek employment with companies that match their values. CNBC describes how millennial Jerry Won found that a promotion is not always enough to keep an employee. Won - 37 years old, secured a sales job at an insurance company and was quickly promoted to a managerial position. This promotion brought greater financial stability, consistent hours, and less stress. Won loved his new role, but he began to feel “boxed in” as he realized the company’s objectives did not match his values, ultimately causing him to resign. 

Other than personal values, the following describes why millennials seek a career change. 

  1. Further their career and a sense of purpose: Alarmingly, only 29% of millennials are engaged in their work, according to Gallup statistics. Further evaluation of this striking statistic found that a lack of opportunity in career progression and development and a weak sense of purpose were the main contributing factors to millennials’ loss of interest. 
  1. Better culture fit: A study by Fidelity describes that millennials are willing to take reduced pay for better work-life balance and workplace culture, with the reduction amount cashing in at $7,600. Millennials are drawn to positions that offer vacation, flexible hours, a sense of belonging, and acknowledgment of personal care. With this generation’s focus on health and wellbeing, it is not surprising that workers feel the need to seek other employment if their needs are neglected. 
  1. Relocation is less stigmatized: A Cornerstone study showed that 77% of respondents would consider relocation (either locally or overseas) in pursuit of a new career opportunity. Companies have gotten used to the ebb and flow of frequent changes in millennials’ careers, as 71% of Australian hiring managers shared that they would be happy to recruit someone who had five different positions in 10 years, and the statistics are even higher in New Zealand where 74% of managers share that idea. 

Top industries gaining and losing millennials 

Since the trend of millennials switching industries gained traction around 2017, data has been accumulating and has shown patterns in sectors that are gaining and losing millennials. 

The growing industries for millennials include

  1. Technology/software: These industries make up $1.9 trillion in the United States
  2. Healthcare/pharmaceutical: These industries make up $1.27 trillion in revenue in the United States.
  3. Financial services/insurance: These industries make up $1.5 trillion (7.4%) of the GDP in the United States. 
  4. Transportation: Public transportation alone amounted to $76.97 billion in 2021 in the United States alone.
  5. Architecture: This industry was worth $41.3 billion in 2021 for the United States. 
  6. Engineering: This industry is currently worth $326 billion in the United States.

The growing interest in these industries is somewhat attributed to millennials’ tendency toward strong IT, programming, and software skills, especially compared to older generations. 

The industries losing millennials include: 

  1. Retail/consumer products: The retail industry rose to 6.6 trillion dollars in the United States in 2021. 
  2. Government: Nearly 20% of all jobs in the United States are government jobs. 
  3. Education: By 2025, the United States education market will be worth $1,949 billion. 
  4. Non-profit: As of 2016, there were 1.54 million non-profit organizations in the United States.  
  5. Media/entertainment: This industry is worth $660 billion in the United States.
  6. Oil/energy: These industries are worth 464 billion in the United States.
  7. Telecommunications: This industry is worth $1.2 trillion in the United States. 

Some of the decline in millennial employment within the above industries makes sense. This generation has aged mainly out of entry-level positions such as those commonly found in the retail and consumer products industries. However, the government sector is losing millennial workers’ interest because of pay freezes and frustratingly long hiring processes. 

What do Millennials want in a job?

Because of the recent hot job market, millennials receive multiple job offers in their searches. Businesses should aim to stay competitive when attracting top talent. The following are areas identified as critical to millennials. 

  1. Corporate learning: Millennials want to immerse themselves in their desired area and pursue environments where learning quickly to make the most significant impact is prioritized. In a poll conducted exclusively for millennials, Wespire found that the number one thing they looked for was a position in which they could make an impact. 
  1. Purpose: A study by Deloitte showed that millennials hold businesses accountable for their positive impact on society. The study showed that nearly 80% of younger millennials say they would be more motivated and committed to their work if they felt their employer was conscientious about their societal impact. 
  1. Culture: This generation values inclusivity and an instilled sense of community. Being transparent with employees and encouraging them to collaborate will help create a productive culture that keeps employees engaged. Millennials want to be involved in making and maintaining a positive employee culture, which is a win all around. 
  1. Flexibility: Millennials are connected to their work, meaning they do not always need to be physically present in an office to be productive. If given clear instructions and goals to achieve, millennials can thrive in a remote or hybrid work environment. 
  1. Learning from failures: This generation heavily values innovation and creative freedom. Companies who seek to maintain their competitive aspects must innovate regularly, and with this comes taking risks and, sometimes, embracing failures. The generation has become aware of this and seeks managers who encourage and guide them through failures. 
  1. Perks are something millennials value, even simple ones like bringing dogs to work or free food. Click here to read about why providing free lunch may be the best employee incentive. 

What can be done to keep millennials engaged?

Companies are encouraged to invest in professional development by providing employees with the challenges and mentorship they seek. Mentorship programs, upskilling opportunities, focused communication on employee career growth plans, and recognition of employee accomplishments are all ways to keep employees motivated and satisfied in the office. 

Millennials are driven by social change and companies' corporate responsibility, meaning they seek roles that give them a sense of purpose and show their impact within their industry or community. This is beneficial; however, it can be detrimental to a company that is not focused on positive change. Millennials will likely seek other opportunities if they do not find deeper meaning within their company. 

Written by Lauren Kemp

Lauren Kemp, Communications and Marketing Specialist at J2T, earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Management with a minor in Latin American studies and a Master of Science in Innovation and Management from Montana State University. Lauren hails from Montana and enjoys reading about the history of her home state. Her bucket-list items include touring the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, and taking an immersion trip to Chile to experience Latin American culture first-hand.

J2T is a recruiting and staffing firm that solely focuses on accounting and finance roles. J2T Flex facilitates all operational accounting needs, both direct hire and contract or contract-to-hire needs. On the direct hire side, J2T Recruiting specializes in senior positions starting at Sr. Accountant up through CFO in both direct hire and contract or contract-to-hire needs encompassing everything in the corporate accounting and finance organizational chart. J2T is a women-owned business exclusively serving the Colorado and Montana markets with the overarching goal to serve you in all areas of the hiring experience.