We're Not Going Anywhere: Why Some Employers Find Millennials Disposable
I'm sure some people go their entire lives without being fired, but the majority of us have been terminated at some point or another.
And whether we deserved it or not is a different question.
As Millennials, we care about our personal brands and our professional histories. So, chances are that we'll lie about our firing or hide it somewhere no one can find it. There's something risky about full disclosure.
It's easy to assume we are the ones to blame.
The bratty, entitled Millennials with their know-it-all attitudes and arrogance clearly can't function in work environments. And to others, we may come across as inexperienced and interchangeable.
The bottom line is we cannot be trusted. We have too many tools, too much knowledge and too much entitlement. Of course, this doesn't reflect the opinions of all employers, but this stigma still exists.
My first (and hopefully last) experience with being fired occurred two weeks ago.
I had been dismissed while I was at home recovering from a severe ankle fracture I sustained in the workplace. The reasons for my firing were jumbled, and with every voice that fought mine, there came another lazy excuse.
When I expressed my unhappiness with my manager demoting me (due to my injury and recovery time), she explained I should be grateful that I still had a job. I argued this setback had not been a reflection of my work performance.
So, she made me disappear because she couldn't possibly work with a young woman who would defend herself. I resented the punishment that didn't seem to fit the crime, and I couldn't understand why a woman who had worked for such power would abuse it.
My dismissal left me with little choice and too many "what ifs?" I started blaming myself, and then others. Then came the real problem: How would I explain this to future employers, recruiters or friends?
The official explanation was I had been dismissed due to business reasons, but how could I gloss over this space in my professional career? There were no legalities in place to protect me, and there was no way I could prove this was not my fault. I was truly screwed.
Instead of hiding it beneath lies and excuses, I've hidden it in plain sight. I've written about it and talked about it, and although it may seem unprofessional or risky, it is my story alone to control. We need to stop being so afraid of our circumstances, and we need to own them.
It's easy to fire us because we're new to the game, and quite often, we don't know our rights. They expect us not to fight as hard as our elders, and they think we will go away as quickly as we came.
I must add not all employers are like this; there are some great companies out there. But this type of treatment does happen. And whether it occurs due to race, sex or personal reasons, it's happening to Millennials every day.
Millennials were given unsteady ground to play on, but being fired will not be just another thing that happens to us. It will not be another way for our doubters to insist we are the throwaway generation, the lazy and the useless.
If you get fired, or if you have been fired, you can make sure it never happens again.
A woman who follows me on Twitter told me she was fired because her manager claimed she was "too ghetto," but she couldn't prove his discrimination. So, she was left to pick up the pieces.
Another woman at my company was dismissed simply because the manager deemed her personality unlikable.
Have you wondered what you ever did to piss your boss off? You probably haven't done much of anything, and you can only protect your own hide so much. You can only tread on so many eggshells before they crack, and no matter how careful you are, you can (and probably will) slip up.
While we may be bright, young things, our elders have value and experience. We have to take care as we perform a balancing act of performing well and pleasing ourselves.
We have new knowledge and grit. We care about reputation management and personal branding, and we value every little job we have ever had.
We care that we worked in bars and restaurants after graduating, and we are proud of the fact we answer phones when we should be building empires.
We want to prove we are not the lazy and replaceable monsters the Baby Boomers insist we are. We want to be special, of course. So, we do fit the criteria of our stereotype, but we're trying to strip it down to its bones and build it a new face.
We have been taught to listen to the older and wiser human beings of the world, and we are conditioned to respect our elders who think we have it all. And so, we do both of these things. We can't help wondering why they can't listen to or respect us. We feel like toddlers in the playground, screaming for someone to listen.
We no longer need to pander to the ideologies of those who deem us unworthy. We are young, and we are probably green and inexperienced. But we're determined, and wolves with big teeth don't scare us. We are digital children and creators, and we are a movement.
We have to remember they used to be just like us.
It's hard to believe these things happen for a reason, but as a glass half-full generation, we tend to steer to the positive side of situations. The truth is that we have miles to go before we sleep, and we have marathons to run before we ever make it.
We can light the match and guide our way there, and we can leave the path aflame for the next one.
That's the thing about Millennials: We're not going anywhere.