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What Millennials Want

Adapted and summarized from a Forbes article by Susannah Breslin

1. They want to be happy.

Over and over, I heard from millennials that they want careers that make them happy. Sound obvious? Not really. It used to be that doing one’s job meant sacrificing one’s happiness in life. That’s what made you happy: doing your job. Not anymore. The new doing it all is having a career that brings you joy.

They want balance.
“I want a healthy work/life balance that allows me to work hard, but still have time for a social life, working out, travel, etc.”

What makes them happy? Doing what they love.
“I want to get paid for doing what I love, so that my personal AND career life will be enjoyable.”

They privilege joy over a paycheck.
“…quality of life and enough money to support a family. I’d rather be happy than rich.”

2. They want to have a purpose.

At the same time, they want authenticity. They want work that makes them feel like they matter, like their contribution does more for the world than move a mound of virtual paperwork from one virtual desk to another. It’s not enough to crunch numbers, do their 40 hours, or have a 401k. Millennials want to work to make the world a better place.

They want to matter.
“I want recognition, a sense of accomplishment and purpose. I want to make a difference and never stop learning.”

Purpose is their currency.
“To be paid to do something I enjoy so much that I’d keep doing it even if I had a billion in the bank.”

It doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t make a difference.
“Ideally, I want to get paid while utilizing my personal skill set and contributing to the betterment of others.”

They find passion in changing the world.
“I want to be able to give back to my community and incite change, all the while doing work that I’m passionate about.”

Same old 9-to-5? Forget about it.
“Any job or career path that effects change is worth getting into. There is no point clocking 9-5′s without influence.”

They want to fly high.
“I want to contribute to society and my company, and be justly compensated for it.”

3. They want freedom.

Just as important is the feeling of freedom. Hire a millennial and chain them to a desk? They will bolt. They don’t want a conventional career. They want work that changes them and impacts the world. They want flexible schedules, creative freedom, and the right to decide what their future holds, not let their path be decided for them.

They’re not fans of authority.
“The freedom to trust my own creativity and not have ideas quashed by sr. authority…I guess that’s why I’m a freelance writer.”

They want to career hop.
“I’m not even sure I want a career. The thought of staying in one field or industry sounds incredibly dull. But can I swing it?”

They want to play.
“Freedom to create, learn + explore. Flexibility.To be able to think + play like a child, w/ trust that I won’t behave like one.”

They want to be awesome.
“I want to do awesome things with awesome people in awesome places and on my own terms.”

They want to work from home, at least some of the time.
“I want to sit in my undies on the couch, drinking a smoothie, tapping out brilliant words on my Mac AND getting paid for it.”

  1. Nick Vannello
    March 14, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Very True. In their book, Generations (William Strauss and Neil Howe), they discuss how the Millennials are actually a lot like our grandparents (pre-WWII). They came from other countries for freedom. They were looking for opportunities to help each other. They wanted to build something better than they had as children.

    Because they were brought up having “play dates” and having all of their time structured by their parents (especially their mothers), I predict that the Millennials will do best when given strong structure AS LONG AS they have been given a purpose as to why they’re doing their tasks.

    For the independent thinkers, I can see many of them working on the road, but using Social Media as a way to stay close to their community.

    • March 15, 2012 at 12:39 am


      Amazing analogy that never occurred to me… old perceptions in a new bottle! 🙂

      The challenge is now for the business ecosystem to transform itself to meet the “new” needs of this millennial workforce. And also to balance it with the needs for a strong family value system.

      Talking about social media, my generation has seen less interference from parents owing to their technical limitations but going forward, the next generations are going to bring to live the pre-WWII era of parenthood – strong parental control over children’s way of life!

  2. June 11, 2014 at 6:25 am

    Your profile of millennials was very helpful, thanks.

    In return, based on your self-description, we think that you will find aspects of TrueTyme.org of interest. If you do, your suggestions pro and con are most welcome!

  1. March 17, 2012 at 8:53 am

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