The millennials - ever optimistic about jobs

@CNNMoney May 18, 2011: 2:10 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- It's as if the recession never happened for many twenty-somethings.

Well-dressed young women fill the offices of Alison Brod Public Relations, a beauty and fashion marketing firm, buzzing with energy, brainstorming on the latest promotional campaigns, working tweets, phones and Facebook accounts. These are the "millennials", born in the 80's and early 90's, born to parents who praised and coddled, born to expect the world.

"These kids have been told that they're the most amazing thing on the face of this earth from the day they were born," says Alison Brod of her staff.

The four dozen millennials in her office are tech savvy and tireless. But, complains Brod, they also have a sense of entitlement, even in the face of what still appears to be a stop-and-start economy and a lousy job market.

Millennials - Find that job

"They want to celebrate, they want bonuses, they want presents, it's Friday afternoon they want pizza parties and things like that. So there's this constant sense of number one," said Brod. "Everything should always be a celebration, but nobody should ever really be penalized if things go badly," said Brod.

Trophy Kids

With the unemployment rate at 9%, economic malaise and job insecurity still hover above millions of Americans even though it will be two years next month since the recession's "official" end. But millennials who are employed seem not terribly bothered, expecting favored treatment from their employers.

My parents have pushed that for me, told me I was the best at whatever I did, and, as a result, I think millennials crave that attention. They crave that praise," said Lauren Bishop, one of Brod's employees.

Dubbed the Trophy Kids -- because they'd all receive trophies in group sports, allowing everyone to feel like a winner -- many have retained their great expectations in spite of the country's economic turmoil.

Workplace consultant Mary Crane tells the story of a Denver law firm that sat its youngest lawyers down early in the recession to tell them they would not have to worry about layoffs even though business was suffering. The young lawyers responded, 'Given that there's not much work, why don't we go to our yoga class.'

"In general this continues to be a generation that is very demanding," said Crane.

It's not so much that younger workers are slackers. A just-completed survey of millennials by Euro RSCG found 73% believe hard work is key to achievement.

But millennials have a different style than the older generation. Time off is extremely important to them.

Work-life balance was the top priority in selecting a job for 34% of those surveyed; 31% said salary and 24% gave priority to workplace atmosphere.

Even so, they expect to rise rapidly in their careers. And why not with role models like 27-year-old Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg?

"They don't understand why the recession should impact them," said trend-spotting guru Marian Salzman who is CEO of Euro RSCG Worldwide's public relations division. "These kids feel they've mastered step one and are ready to come in as a junior executive."

Climbing the corporate ladder is the accepted path to success for many baby boomers, but not so for their children.

"Young folks have no interest in climbing the corporate ladder," said Crane. "They want to play games of chutes and ladders: work hard on a project, then they want to play with their friends."

140-character world

When they are working, the millennials' technological aptitude allows them to be the most talented multi-taskers and networkers the planet has ever seen, able to build business with a few keystrokes on Facebook.

But, such talents can come with side-effects.

Employers say millennials have short attention spans and often communicate as they tweet -- in quick sound bites.

They live in a world where everything is 140-characters. They don't want to read more than a few sentences, and they don't read more than a few sentences," said Brod.

To bring out the best in young workers Mary Crane advises bosses to manage to the millennial style: Give lots of feedback, set concrete goals and, think of yourself more as a T-ball coach than a boot camp instructor. To top of page

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