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How the Millennial Generation Works


The Millennial Generation's Attitude

Many researchers, including the Pew Research Center in a 2010 report, have examined the Millennials' attitudes and opinions across a spectrum of issues. Most show evidence of a generation that is highly educated, self-confident, technologically savvy and ambitious.

One of the oft-cited aspects that distinguishes the Millennials is that they're extremely "connected." Pew found that Millennials use social media and text on their cell phones significantly more than older generations. Unsurprisingly, they found that Millennials are also more likely to view technology in a positive light [source: Pew].

Politically, Millennials were among Barack Obama's strongest supporters during the 2008 presidential election (66 percent voted for him). They are also less religious than older generations were when they were younger. Demographically, Millennials are larger and more ethnically diverse than previous generations. According to Pew's report, they're also more accepting of interracial marriage [source: Pew].

Because employers are especially interested in understanding the profile of a Millennial, several books also explore the effects of the generation on the workforce. Author Ron Alsop of the Wall Street Journal found through research that Millennials are largely seen as entitled and narcissistic. But he finds that Millennials' self-confidence is likely a product of highly involved ("helicopter") parents who vehemently encouraged the importance of self-esteem. Alsop also finds that Millennials, although good team players, are particularly ambitious, seeking constant appraisal and lightning-fast promotions up the corporate ladder. However, they desire a good work-life balance, and, to sate their desire for a fulfilling job, they're also frequent job-hoppers, frustrating employers with low retention rates [source: Alsop].

Like many generations, the Millennials have had several seemingly "defining moments." In addition to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they experienced September 11 and the shootings at Columbine and Virginia Tech. However, unlike the Boomers with the Vietnam War, there has not been a clearly unified or radical reaction to these events. What research has shown is that although Millennials are generally more willing than older generations to sacrifice liberties for security, they also want the United States to take a backseat to the United Nations in international problems [source: Winograd]. Authors Thom and Jess Rainer speculate that September 11 taught Millennials that life is short, prompting them to embrace ambition and reject "business as usual" [source: Rainer].

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