Life

The Evolution of the Millennial Job Market

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Is checking Facebook or Twitter one of the first things you do when you wake up in the morning? It could be a sign you’re a millennial.

Another sign is that you’ve likely switched jobs within the last couple of years.

Research shows that millennials — otherwise known as Generation Y — have a median tenure of two years with one employer, compared to five years among members of Generation X and seven years within Baby Boomers.

Not sure if you’re a millennial? There really is no official consensus on the age range for Generation Y, but generally, you’re considered a millennial if you were born between 1982 and 2004.

As you navigate the job market in pursuit of the dream career you’ll keep for life; you may find the labor market to be thriving — so the world seems like your oyster.

That it may be. Just be aware that you have some competition.

Millennials Make up the Largest Work Force

millennials working

If you’re a millennial looking for new work prospects, you’re not the only one. A 2015 U.S. Census Bureau study by the Pew Research Center found that people aged 18 to 34 (Generation Y) have recently surpassed those aged 35 to 50 (Generation X) in terms of population in the labor force.

In the first quarter of 2014, for example, 52.8 million people from Generation X were either working or looking for work, compared to 50.6 million millennials. But by the first quarter of 2015, millennials represented 53.5 million people in the workforce, versus only 52.7 million Generation X-ers.

Millennial now make up the largest labor force of any generation, including Baby Boomers, who represented the highest population in the workforce back in 1995. In terms of percentages, in 2015, millennials made up 34 percent of the labor force.

Immigration to Increase Millennial Labor Representation

As much as there’s been a boom in the last year, millennial representation in the workforce is only expected to increase in the coming years.

According to Pew’s labor report, a large part of the reason is that immigration to the United States is also increasing, and working immigrants tend to be in their millennial years. Few people who migrate to the United States from other countries are children or older adults.

In fact, in the last five years, more than half of immigrant workers in the nation have been millennials.

So if you’re a member of Generation Y and you want to compete with the rest of the job market, you need to constantly update your skills. That doesn’t just mean your professional and job-hunting skills, either. It means you need to keep up in your education and training as well.

A report by the Council of Economic Advisers published in 2014 stated that, in addition to their presence in the workforce, more millennials than members of any other generation have obtained a college degree. Specifically, by 2013, almost half — 47 percent — of 25-to-34-year-olds had obtained an a ssociate’s, bachelor’s or graduate degree.

With this competition, the playing field can be a difficult one for millennials.

So How Does an Ambitious Millennial Survive the Job Market?

OK, the news isn’t all bad about your chances of scoring a position at that prestigious company.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of January 2016, the rate of payroll employment rose by 151,000 since the previous 12 months. In addition, the BLS reported that significant job gains were observed in many fields, including retail, food services and health care.

These statistics may help offset some of the competition created by the growing population of Generation Y in the workforce.

If you want to maximize your success at getting hired — and scoring a respectable salary —  consider furthering your education with some postsecondary training (or even a degree) in finance, computer science or engineering. Research has shown that at the bachelor’s and master’s levels, degrees in those fields are in highest demand by top companies.

Even if your passion is in the liberal arts, do not despair. Whatever your major was, you’ll still find a career as long as you do your homework. Consider an internship if you want to further your experience and appear as a particularly motivated candidate. A career coach, too, can seem like a large investment, but it can go a long way in preparing you for your job search as well as for that big interview with the corporate guru.

Also, never underestimate the power of networking. In fact, studies show 80 percent of jobs are obtained this way. Go to events where you can interact with like-minded professionals, such as targeted conferences or local happy hours. If you’re an introvert, you can make a lot of progress with the power of social media. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated with your resume and highlights your best qualities.

The bottom line: If you’re a millennial, the job market is tough, and it’s only predicted to become tougher with Generation Y’s growing presence in the workforce. But if you put in a little bit of effort to improve your skills, education and experience (and your networking skills), you can leverage yourself so you’re ahead of your peers.

Just make sure you focus hard on your work — and that means even before you land that job in the fancy office.

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