The Future Is You: New Rules For Career Success

by Dan Schawbel

We are Millennials. We are eighty million strong and we’re taking over the world. I am fully confident that this generation will transform business as we know it for the better. We’ve lost trust in organizations, we’re pushing them to align with social causes, and we want them to support our local communities. We aren't fond of corporate hierarchies and we don't want to feel constrained by a 9-to-5 workday.

We believe that companies shouldn't judge performance by tenure, age or hours worked, but on results achieved. As more of us enter the workforce, change will happen rapidly and companies that don't adjust will lose out on the most in-demand talent pool in history. In 2014, 36% of the U.S. workforce will be Millennials (aka Gen-Y). By 2020, we’ll be up to 46%, and we’ll account for 75% of the global workforce by 2025.

We have the power to change corporate America, because a decade from now, we will be corporate America. But this isn’t a story only about the future. A recent study by my company and PayScale concluded that 15% of Millennials are already in management positions.

Here are a few more examples of the tremendous impact Millennials will have on the workplaces of today and tomorrow:

• We’ll take down the firewall. Millennials are always connected through technology, and use social media tools and their smartphones to keep in touch with family, friends and coworkers. Smart companies will allow for social usage at work because it makes workers more productive, allows for fast and cheap communication across the world and makes their employees happy.

On the other hand, companies that block social media sites in the workplace and limit our mobile device choices will have trouble recruiting and/or retaining Millennials. When Gen-Y takes charge of the workplace, all companies (with a few exceptions in highly regulated industries) will allow for open technology use. Thirty-three percent of Millennials would choose social media freedom and device flexibility over a higher salary. And according to Cisco, 56% wouldn't work at a company that banned social media use.

We will have a positive influence over older generations.

Actually, this is already happening. For example, we were the first to adopt social networking. Older generations came on board later, often because they wanted either to keep in touch with or spy on their children. Since Millennials are so different from previous generations in how they act, behave, make purchasing decisions and see the world, they will start to change the perceptions and behavior of their elders (74% of Millennials already believe that they influence the purchase decisions of their peers and those in other generations).

"We can actually see Gen X changing their perception of brands and what they expect of products and services and experiences because Millennials are raising the bar for everybody and that plays out in the workforce," says Ross Martin, Executive Vice President at MTV Scratch at MTV Networks.

Part of the issue is that Gen-Yers don’t just want to be marketed to, they want to be part of the branding and product creation process and engaged with online.

Gen-Y’s influence extends to the offline world as well. Traditional retailers such as Macy’s have begun to offer completely new fashion brands — and are even redesigning their brick-and-mortar stores — to make them more attractive to younger shoppers. And in the workplace, younger workers are reverse mentoring Boomers, making them more tech-savvy, and helping them better use technology to do their jobs.

We’ll give corporate America a better reputation.

In many circles, corporate America is still seen as impersonal, out of touch and driven by the bottom line. But 92% of Millennials believe that business should be measured by more than just profit and should focus on a societal purpose. Millennials are all about giving back to communities, making a positive difference in the world, and we’re known to place meaning over money when it comes to making decisions about where to work. In this way, we’re going to have a positive influence on the way business is done, support global charities and nonprofits and paint a better picture of corporate America in the future.

We will change the way workers are promoted.

Promotions typically come after a certain length of time on the job. But Millennials want faster promotions and often aren’t willing to wait years to get to the next level at a company. We believe that promotions should be more aligned to accomplishments and results instead of based on age and years of experience. Traditionally, promotions tend to happen at the beginning of a company’s fiscal or calendar year. But as our influence grows, promotions will happen anytime they’re deserved. The key word here is deserved. You’re still going to have to work hard and produce results to constantly add value to your team and your company.

By understanding the impact your generation will have on the workforce in the years to come, you can better prepare for it now and become a leader at your company. This will help you get noticed at work, make people interested in your ideas, and even give you more confidence.

[This excerpt is from "Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success" is given with permission from St. Martin's Press to be published the week of September 3rd]

Top Photo Courtesy: Antik Boutik