There is a popular plug-in for Google Chrome that searches websites and replaces “millennials” with “snake people.” Using it generates some interesting headlines:
Martha Stewart Still Confused about What Snake People Are, Exactly
Snake People Aren’t Very Interested in Traditional Radio Anymore
Teach Snake People How to Be Managed by You
The substitution works because news coverage of millennials reads like we’re a baffling, possibly threatening alien race. Who are they? What do they want? Why are their actions and customs so strange? How can we learn to tolerate them before they take over?
Full disclosure: I am a millennial. But I don’t have scales or a forked tongue. I’m just one of millions of young professionals taking on the world as it is, trying to shape it more into the world I hope it becomes.
Given the massive amounts of news coverage (44,000 articles and counting), it seems like everyone is desperate to understand my generation. Thankfully, we don’t have to rely on stereotypes or sensationalism to find out. LinkedIn Marketing Solutions researched the millions of millennials on LinkedIn to take a data-based approach to the problem. They compiled the results in the Millennial Playbook, a guide for millennials who chase great, and for those other generations trying to figure us out.
The first thing I discovered during our research is there are more millennials out there than I imagined. Turns out, we’re the largest generation on Earth, about 2 billion strong. There are 85 million of us in the U.S. alone, and all told we claim $ 1 trillion in purchasing power annually.
But as much as we get stereotyped, generalized, and lumped in together, we’re not hive-minded snake people. Marketing research by Carat Consumer Insights identifies four broad categories we fall into:
#TrendNetters are the closest to the media perception of millennials. They live their lives online, and thrive on feedback and peer recognition
#AlterNatives are more quiet, introverted, and concerned with privacy. They’re more tech-savvy than others because they want control of the devices they own
#LYFPreneurs are ambitious, hard-working, hard-playing go-getters looking to find the next transformative business model
#BetaBlazers are intensely knowledgeable, forward-thinking, trailblazing types who are all about quality over quantity
Notice how the stereotypes of “lazy” and “entitled” disappear when you take a closer look? Millennials, it turns out, are as industrious and innovative as anyone else. We may be blazing new trails to get to our goals, but we’re on the move.
Millennials Don’t Settle
Regardless of which persona they fall into, millennials are making their way in the working world. The job market is radically different now than it was even ten years ago. Millennials have had to adjust their goals and their expectations.
LinkedIn’s research discovered the number one thing millennials want out of a job is advancement opportunity, narrowly beating out better pay and challenging work. That makes sense; the days of spending 40 years in one job are long gone. We want to move up the ladder fast. And if we get stalled, we’re not shy about seeking out new opportunities. We’re not about to settle for less.
Millennials Invest Time on LinkedIn
We know that millennials love their social media. Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat…the list goes on. But I was pleasantly surprised to see how many of my generation are investing time on LinkedIn as well. There are 87 million millennials on LinkedIn worldwide, and 11 million are classified as “decision makers.” Not only that, millennials represent 30% of long-form publishers on LinkedIn, even though we’re less than 25% of total members.
Millennials are Thriving at Work
Some of my favorite insights from the Millennial Playbook come from interviews with millennials who are thriving in the workforce. There’s Tara Robertson, the Inbound Marketing Manager at Uberflip. Shelly Simmons, Marketing Manager at Company.com. And Katherine Lisciani started her own successful agency, Millennovation® Media.
These three innovators and leaders—and many more in the playbook—bear out what LinkedIn’s research found: Millennials are moving in and moving up.
Helping Millennials Chase Great
There’s no denying millennials are chasing great.
Some of us want the thrill of recognition. Some just want to make the world a better place. Some just can’t resist pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.
No matter what motivates us, millennials are more than willing to put in the effort it takes to get ahead. So the last chapters of the playbook are all about channeling that effort into building a professional network and personal brand. Combine a millennial’s enthusiasm, energy, and skill with LinkedIn’s inherent ability to connect people, and you create an unbeatable team.
If you’re a millennial yourself, check out the Millennial Playbook for a wealth of practical information you can use in your career journey. If you’re not a millennial, and especially if you think of us as snake people, read it to see what we’re really like, where we are now, and where we’re headed.