The Question Matters

Advocates for Millennial Workers Needed: Full-time Positions Available

Posted in Career,Change,Coaching,Generation Y,Leadership by treyfinley1008 on May 28, 2010
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Troy Stirman, ACU

A final thank you to Troy Stirman, who has played the role of conversant this week.  I appreciate Troy’s generosity with his time and his advocacy for Millennials entering the workforce.  I hope to have an opportunity to collaborate with Troy again in the future.  Troy is a career coach at Abilene Christian University in the College of Business Administration.  He also remains a business owner and is a certified resume writer.

The final piece of the puzzle today is the person. We’ve reviewed the pressure-packed job market.  Troy described the prime directive of Millennials entering the workforce: work/life balance.  You read the story of one Millennial student’s entrepreneurial response to a job he neither enjoyed nor believed in.  Then, you read of the Millennial willingness to buck the odds of a tough marketplace and consider moving jobs anyway.

It’s easy to lose sight of the very human dilemma that is being a young and hungry businessperson in a job market with fewer openings and more experienced workers available who are also in the market for a job.  It’s a tough situation, and here are some of the responses that Troy is seeing to the uncertain job market:

Parental Pressure:  The well-intentioned parent who encourages their student to “just get any job you can” create the real possibility of stifling hope in a young businessperson.  In Troy’s words, they’re “setting them up for failure.”

Paralyzing Fear: “Fear is a major motivating factor with this group…I’ve had some students show up to a career fair–where hiring managers were eager to talk to them–only to watch the student-graduate talk themselves out of approaching those who would ultimately change their destiny.”

Blissful Ignorance:  “Those graduates who have unrealistic expectations about job offers without doing their homework have a pretty rosy picture of what might be available to them.  While they are eager to begin their careers, many have not spoken with their career services professional about what is reasonably expected in today’s environment.”

Realism: “There are those who have prepared who understand what is at stake prior to graduation and have put in their time both in the classroom and in the public sector through internships.  These students have a healthy view of the job environment and their search proces is better vetted through this knowledge.  They tend not to give up as easily and persevere when the rejection letters come.”

Those of us 5,10, 20 years or more ahead of the newest members of the workforce must become advocates for these young workers.

If you’ve read my blog once, you know one of my biases.  No matter the hand dealt your/my generation, we each have a responsibility to coach and encourage those who will follow us.  Failure to understand a different age group is an excuse many hide behind.  So take a young employee or business owner out for coffee, and ask them some of these coaching questions:

  1. What’s most important to you right now?
  2. If you could go to sleep tonight knowing something about business would be forever altered in the morning, what possible change is going to keep you awake that night?
  3. What can you teach me about the under-30 workforce?  What do I need to understand that I don’t yet?  What can I learn from you?
  4. What’s one thing that everyone is convinced can’t be changed, but you think it can/should be changed?
  5. Imagine a time when you’re living your business dream.  What’s had to happen between then and now to get you to that point?

Thanks again, Troy!


Millennials in the Office: Will They Stay or Will They Go?

Posted in Career,Change,Coaching,Fun,Generation Y by treyfinley1008 on May 27, 2010
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You’re in human resources.  You’ve been told by your COO and your CFO that it’s your job to hire three employees for a bank branch where there were only two before.  And, while you’re at it, they’ll be expected to work under existing company policy manuals for that bank.  We just poured thousands of dollars into that thick book, after all.   Hire young, too.  That place could stand to look a little younger.  And did we mention that you’re going to have to hire three people using the same amount of money you were spending on only two before?

Posted on Linked In later that day…  “Dying bank branch needs rules followers willing to accept lower pay.  Business attire and long hours a must.  Benefits include medical insurance and 403(b) plan.  Apply by sending resume to

OK, it’s hyperbole, though some of you in HR may be thinking to yourself, “That was exactly what happened last Monday.”

Laugh it up, Fuzzball!

I start this way to point out some of the statistics about the turnover in jobs among Millennials.  When it comes to job-hunting, Millennials seem a bit like Han Solo, claiming, “Never tell me the odds.”  (That quote would be from The Empire Strikes Back, by the way, for all you non Gen Xers.)

According to the Labor Bureau’s study, 37% of Millennials are unemployed.  That employment rate is nearly four times the national rate for the workforce at large. Still, in spite of those odds, nearly 50% of all Millennials intend to look into other jobs in 2010.

    Why aren’t more Millennials enticed to stay put, especially given the realities of employment?  And, what can you the employer to do to steer them away from this stunning strategy of looking for work when 1 in 3 of their friends would be happy just to have a job?  Here’s Troy Stirman:

    Today’s graduates are not looking to work beyond 40 hours per week.  Too, they want an employer that shares their interest in community involvement… So-called “green” companies are high on their list when targeting organizations they wish to engage.  Traditional office settings are also being challenged by today’s generation of graduates.  Gen Y grads tend to look for flexible hours, some want to work from their home, and still others enjoy telecommuting from other locales.  With today’s mobile technology, these attitudes are fast becoming the norm…

    Today’s students resist professional dress.  No matter what feedback they gain from their interviews, most graduates don’t reflect the workforce of 10-15 years ago when it comes to proper business attire.  Flexibility is a given with this group…

    Childcare/health facilities.  Today’s graduates tend to leave children with daycare centers and work full-time for more of their career.  This generation is also more health conscious.  Companies who offer services such as in-house daycare facilities or who extend gym memberships as part of their benefits package will have leverage when luring quality candidates to their firm.”

    Tomorrow, I’ll share Troy’s thoughts on how Millennials are responding to the current job market–good and bad.  And I’ll throw in a couple of coaching points on the topic myself.

    Career Coach: Entrepreneurship Suits Millennials Well

    Posted in Career,Entrepreneurs,Generation Y,Leadership by treyfinley1008 on May 26, 2010
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    Troy Stirman, college career coach and certified resume writer tells this story about one of his recent graduates:

    There is a young man who graduated last December [2009] who was hired 10-12 weeks following his graduation by a sales firm in the Dallas area.  He didn’t particularly want to work in Sales, but school loans were coming due.  He quickly became disillusioned by the company’s environment.

    Notice a couple of things here.  First, it was nearly three months from the time of his graduation to an actual hiring.  Second, notice that this graduate took a job in a field he wasn’t particularly interested in.  He took a job because he had to, not because he wanted to.  Finally, notice that he quickly became disillusioned not by the money, the commute, or the benefits.  He became disillusioned by the company’s environment.  Back to the story:

    Rather than resign to a defeatist attitude he started exploring entrepreneurial ideas.  Today, he is launching his own recycling business within upscale neighborhoods.  He provides a curbside pickup for each and every resident.  He is confident that this work matches his career goals of owning his own business and doing something positive for the environment.  As a result, his attitude and outlook have shifted dramatically since exploring this opportunity.

    I love this: his entrepreneurial idea has social ramifications.  He’s a social entrepreneur. His business promotes social responsibility, and in so doing, he’s matching his career goals of owning his own business and doing something environmentally sound.  Now, don’t skip over the change in his attitude and outlook.  This is a really important point for understanding Millennials.  They want alignment between how they earn money and what they believe and value.  And as was pointed out in the first quote, they won’t stick around long if they sense that their work and their values don’t and likely won’t match up.  Here are Troy’s thoughts on this:

    Many of today’s students have visions of starting their own business. They are not as likely to simply seek out corporate giants that align with their major. They are more likely to fully investigate starting their own business that aligns with their personal goals.

    There’s a lot being written on retention among Millennials.  Suggestions for workplace amendments that will attract them, complaints that they seem to lack loyalty to a company.  Let’s be clear.  Millennials are still young.  The oldest among them are still 30 or under.  Many of them are just now attending or graduating from college.  They’ve got some growing up to do; so did I when I was in my 20s.

    They’ve got some great ideas, and tomorrow I’ll hit on a few of Troy’s suggestions for workplace environment that will attract and potentially retain Millennials.


    Troy Stirman, Career Coach

    Posted in Career,Change,Coaching,Generation Y,Leadership by treyfinley1008 on May 24, 2010
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    I met Troy Stirman recently at an Abilene Christian University alumni luncheon in north Dallas. I enjoy observing and commenting on the challenges Millennials face as they enter the workplace.  Troy lives in those challenges, coaching college graduates to prepare, enter, and thrive in the early years of their career. I’ll be posting snippets of an email interview I conducted with Troy throughout the week.  Here’s a taste of his perspective on this season in our economy’s workplace:

    For the first time in nearly 20 years, America is experiencing an explosive growth rate of new undergraduates entering the marketplace while at the same time enduring a struggling economy that has seen a sustained 10% unemployment rate. Today’s undergraduates are vying for entry-level positions alongside both educated and experienced candidates who may have experienced a layoff.  This puts tremendous pressure on today’s undergraduate students.

    If you’ve been reading me for a while, you know that I think my generation–Gen X–can be for Gen Y what we wish Boomers had been for us in our careers.  n that vein, I hope that these interviews with Troy will be helpful to Millennials who are looking for a job or to those who know a Millennial who is.  More about Troy:

    Troy is a businessman with 20+ years of career experience that includes marketing/sales, professional development/fundraising, professional writing and business coaching.  He currently holds the Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) credential.  In addition to being the career coach for 900+ business and technology undergraduates for Abilene Christian University’s College of Business Administration, he is also a small business owner who assists clients from around the world with their professional writing needs.  His website is: