Millennials: How to Decide on a Career Path for 2016

Millennials: How to Decide on a Career Path for 2016

By Joe Issid

Monster Contributing Writer

If you are entering the final years of your education, you are probably getting blitzed with questions surrounding your personal and professional futures. For the majority of us, these are stressful questions with complicated and (often) incomplete answers. In today’s world, a secondary education does not necessarily propel a graduate into a field of specialization with a very structured career path. To the contrary, huge numbers of Millennials are entering into a crowded marketplace with little to no direction and a belly full of anxiety. Sure, our parents may have your best interests at heart when they hammer you to find fulfilling and prosperous careers but, unfortunately, there is no simple path to success.

Fortunately, however, graduating Millennials have a great deal more variety when it comes to choosing a career path. While Baby Boomers sought out a lifelong job out of school, today’s youth have a much greater level of freedom and choice in where they spend their working lives. While the job market may indeed be saturated, there are alternative career entry points other than scouring job boards. Here is how you can get started:

Start a business

While Baby Boomers were extremely monogamous in their careers, Gen-Xers have been somewhat more promiscuous. Millennials, on the other hand, are far more entrepreneurial and have a much higher threshold for risk. According to a Deloitte survey, 70% of Millennials envision working for themselves at some point during their careers. According to the survey: “While 52 percent of Millennials in developed markets expect to eventually work independently, this figure rises to 82 percent in emerging markets.” Certainly, starting a business carries a significantly higher risk than joining an established company, but Millennials are certainly more open to the idea than any previous generation. To wit, you will be hard pressed to find a recent graduate who doesn’t know a great deal of people who have already started successful businesses.

Join a business

How is this different than applying for a job? Well, as mentioned above, Millennials are innately skilled at leveraging digital networks socially. And, in doing so, open up a great number of potential professional avenues. Being able to connect to a wide and geographically disparate group of people can be extremely powerful. As the old saying goes: it’s not what you know but who you know. And never has this been truer than in today’s hyper-connected world. No longer are you confined to a small network of classmates or family friends; Millennials often have networks comprised of thousands of contacts who, at the touch of a button, can be contacted for help. Don’t underestimate your social network as a fertile source of professional opportunities.

The Baby Boom route

As Baby Boomers are drifting off into retirement in record numbers, a huge number of their jobs will become available. And Millennials are the most likely candidates to replace them. However, as previously stated, Millennials have proven to remain less time in a job position and may not be tempted by the prospect of working under similar expectations. Nevertheless, I would strongly encourage all Millennial job hunters to seriously consider working for more traditional companies as they certainly offer many benefits that simply can’t be found elsewhere, such as security and mobility. While this may not sound like the sexiest avenue but it could provide the greatest level of long-term stability.

Money is secondary

Millennials are approaching their careers with a far greater sense of altruism than previous generations. Rather than seeking out an employer who can provide a steady income stream (a la Baby Boomers and, to an extent, Gen-Xers), Millennials are seeking out employers who can foster innovation and make positive contributions to society and the environment. “To attract and retain talent business needs to show Millennials it is innovative and in tune with their world-view,” said Barry Salzberg, CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. According to the, one in three Millennials values “social media freedom” above salary. Clearly, Millennial motivation comes less in the form of remuneration and more in the form of social and environmental justice. Understanding this could help make a short- to mid-term decision in your career.