I wrote a post last week about how Age is the New Glass Ceiling. In it I openly wondered why companies choose to hire older, more experienced candidates from outside the company into managerial or influential positions rather than promote younger, but successful employees from within.
I received some interesting feedback from readers:
“The one thing I’m finding is that companies tend to be careful of one hit wonders. In the sense that they expect a behavior to be demonstrated consistently (this may mean a year or 2) before you can be promoted. Far too many people (millennials especially) come out of school and because they do well on their first project think they should be promoted to Sr. VP!”
“What would have happened, I am wondering today, if someone had given me the advice I like to give young people who wonder why they are not doing better in their job:
Go to the Mirror, Look Yourself in the Eye, and say This Is All My Fault. Take responsibility.”
“Your post sounds like a bit of belly aching–if you really want to advance your career you NEED to pick up and go to another firm. Every time I have done that I get a 15-20% raise. Guess what–you’ll rarely get that by staying in the same place…”
What I find so interesting about these comments is that they automatically assume my performance at work is not good. Which only serves to prove the point I was trying to make in my post:
I should be judged on the quality of my work–not my age.
I feel I speak for lots of these so-called “demanding” millennials who have been in the workforce for a while, who read the self-help books and blogs like my own who are trying to do everything right, who take every boring project and work late every night, who want to play the game so they can get ahead—and yet are running into a wall when it comes to promotion or recognition for their efforts.
After spending some time reflecting on my post and the reactions it received, I came to a realization about why age is such a frustrating thing for most of Gen-Y:
Age is the one thing we can’t change no matter how hard we try.
I feel that there are lots of mid-level or managerial positions I qualify for based on my skill set, interests and previous experience, however, they usually require 2 – 3 more years of professional experience than I currently have. What exactly can I do about this? Nothing but wait. And I think that is at the root of the frustration for many young people.
Is it a millennial thing? Is it just the folly of youth? Most likely it’s a combination of both. And for a generation that was taught “if you can believe, you can achieve” being told to wait can be a hard lump to swallow.