Hiring millennials – what to avoid

Lesley Jane Seymour is Editor in Chief of More Magazine at Meredith Publishing Corp. From her advice about hiring millennials:

Don’t hire them if you sense even a whiff of entitlement. I tell every prospective employee that they will be gofers for the first two years (that means chores like packing clothes for shoots and doing their boss’s expenses) even if they won’t be.

When one young man who wanted to be a magazine writer said, “But my university led me to believe…,” I said, “Stop right there. No one cares what your college led you to believe. They only care if you can use a copy machine and answer phones. That is how we all started.” No surprise: Our discussions ended there.

Lesley Jane is right: great people don’t have a sense of entitlement. They’re prepared to roll up their sleeves to get stuff done.  And because they succeed, they end up with better careers and far greater financial rewards than the people who feel entitled.

But this true of everyone, irrespective of career stage, age, and generation. Not just millennials.

5 thoughts on “Hiring millennials – what to avoid

  1. There’s a difference between ‘entitlement’ and ‘self worth’. Those who leave college/university with up to 4 years study experience, but no knowledge of the world of work, may find it hard to face two years of spending their time copying and answering the phone. Perhaps employers should understand their frustration and give them more responsible tasks too?

  2. David – I think the point about entitlement is correct. I think the notion of condemning every young person to copying and loading boxes just because “we did it” is plain stupid. In fact, i would love a list of the non-entitled box stuffers who are over-qualified to work as a box stuffer for Seymour and try to recruit them to more productive work.

  3. I think the need for non-entitlement is mutual. Nobody wants an entitled worker who just thinks about what the company gives them.
    BUT nobody wants to work for an entitled company either. I can imagine that a very reasonable applicant, if told they will be doing unskilled work for 2 years, would look for a different opportunity.
    In a good fit, both the worker and the employer will feel privileged to be partnered with one another, responsible to one another, and valued for what they are.

  4. I think the commenters missed the point of Lesley Jane Seymour’s tactics. She TOLD them they would be gofers even if they wouldn’t be. She was using this approach to determine whether they would be comfortable rolling up their sleeves to work hard or not. There may be better ways to screen out “entitled” prospective employees, but it seems this approach would work.

    As for whether millennials should be hired differently, newly minted graduates are as unpredictable as first round draft choices in the NFL. Until we see them in action, we don’t know whether they will perform in the real world or not. They simply don’t have the body of work that older, more experienced candidates have. There’s also a stereotype that millennials, with their helicopter parents, have unrealistic expectations of what they will be doing in the workforce their first few years. Until millenials do something to change this stereotype, it will persevere.

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