Honey, Why Do We Have a Millennial Living in the Basement?



Millennials who return to the nest are called “boomerang kids”, Millennial Living in the Basement, and they are having a tough time landing jobs in their career fields.

Why are Millennials returning home to live in such record numbers?

Older workers hold such opinions as: “These Millennials cannot communicate;” “They think it’s all right to text all day on their cell phones while at work;” “They think they should be managing a department after six months,” “They don’t take the initiative,” “They have no idea what it means to work.”

BUT, even if all of these statements were true, Millennials still have an obstacle with which younger Baby Boomers can identify: demographics. As Eric Levenson recently opined in MSN News: “According to reports, half of recent college graduates with bachelor’s degrees are finding themselves underemployed or jobless. For the first time since 1947, America’s most common age is no longer part of the Baby Boom. Millennials have taken over. According to Census Bureau information, 22-year-olds are the most represented age group in America, followed by 23-year-olds and then 21-year-olds.”

22-year-olds are the most represented age group in America

As a Career Coach and Resume Writer, I am well aware that Millennials can expect to experience the same economic/career challenges the younger Baby Boomers have faced. These Boomers entered an economy that was already “staffed up” by their older brothers and sisters. They had greater competition for open positions, experienced difficulties moving their careers forward, and found themselves running to keep up financially. These are the same challenges the Millennials will face throughout their careers.

22-year-olds are the most represented age group in America

In my extensive one-on-one conversations with college students, more than 90% of the time I am able to establish rapport with this population. You and I cannot change the demographics for the Millennial college graduate, but we can take some action to promote understanding of the demographics issue and recommend changes in behavior that will disprove the older workers’ negative assumptions.

Assuming that your resident grad is already searching for a position or internship in the appropriate field, have a conversation that includes this 3-point action plan.

The Plan

  1. Insist on a resume that highlights accomplishments. Hiring managers know that newly-minted college graduates have little or no ‘real world’ experience (if your college grad does have such experience, make sure it is highlighted on the resume). What hiring managers are searching for is the ability to make something happen. They are looking for accomplishments in internships, academics, campus activities, volunteer work, real world work, sports, etc. Graduates may not be aware that non-academic accomplishments such as doubling the fraternity membership, registering the most new voters, or founding an annual campus event can be important to put on their resume. Talk with your grad so that he/she partners with the resume writer to maximize visibility.
  2. Insist that your graduate work a job any job. Yes, of course you want the dollars you invested in your grad’s education to pay immediate dividends, but in the event that employment in their field is not currently an option, then your grad needs to be working (even at $10/15 per hour). This is about a sense of self-worth as well being out of the house for part of the work week. It is not always possible to excel or show accomplishment in every job, but even in low end service jobs, good work habits are frequently recognized – maybe not with cash, but in other indirect ways: “Served high profile customers;” “Employee of the Month;” “The go-to person for staff regarding computerized inventory system;” “Selected as junior team member to attend/support the Greater Midwest Widget Show;” “Achieved highest sales in coffee and desserts.” In other words: forget about the money and your opinion of the job. Look for ways to succeed and be noticed. Additionally, it is always easier to find a job when you already have a job.
  3. Encourage your grad to volunteer. More than internships in the grad’s field, volunteerism is about getting into a formal, recognized organization where there are opportunities to accomplish something. This is about taking the initiative for some aspect of the organization and showing the drive and passion to lead change. For example: Lead the effort to update the local ASPCA website by improving the graphics and navigation; join a political campaign and support local efforts to put together a Millennial SWAT Team to garner support for events; become a volunteer at the local basketball camp for young teens and develop a new Skills Evaluation Form that is adopted throughout the local organization; start a blog on any topic and manage the blog to show up at respectable levels in Google searches. With volunteerism, the goal is to show hiring managers that the passionate graduate can make things happen.

All so you don’t have to ask this question: “Honey, Why Do We Have a Millennial Living in the Basement?”

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