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Generation Y
Generation Z

Seeking A Corporate Job? Advice For Gen Y

The average tenure for a Gen Y at any given job is less than 3 years. If you do the math, this means they will have 15-20 jobs in their working lifetime! The competition in corporate America can be tough, especially if Gen Y seems to constantly be seeking out new opportunities.

The average tenure for a Gen Y at any given job is less than 3 years. If you do the math, this means they will have 15-20 jobs in their working lifetime!

The competition in corporate America can be tough, especially if Gen Y seems to constantly be seeking out new opportunities.

Gen Y, listen up. If you’re looking for your next corporate job, I have a few words of wisdom for you.

Over the past 25 years, I have worked for large corporations, including The Coca-Cola Company and Kellogg’s. I know a thing or two about landing a corporate job. And it’s executives like me who are making the hiring decisions right now (that’d be your Gen Xers and Baby Boomers).


Understand the landscape; know where to position yourself and who the key players are.

  1. Find your style – identify what is going to set you apart from the rest of the candidates.
  2. Capitalize on what is in your arsenal – identify your strengths and be prepared to give examples.
  3. Find some friends and practice – this is crucial. Before any phone interview, Web interview or face-to-face interview, you should practice with a live audience. If you don’t feel comfortable getting your friends involved then at least stand in front of a mirror and practice.


I know this may be extremely difficult; however, envision where you want to be in 10 years! Then, focus on the companies and positions that will get you there. If you want to manage a billion dollar business for a Fortune 100 Company, then understand the skills you need to develop in order to achieve that goal. This will help you chart your course and identify the positions that you should seek in the corporate world. This will also help you answer the one question I guarantee you’ll be asked in your interview: “Why do you want this job?”


During my career, I have been both a mentee and mentor. The best advice I can give is to know the difference between ego and confidence. Keep in mind, your generation (Gen Y) has been branded as the “trophy kids” and unfortunately there are preconceived notions that come along with this stereotype.

Understand what it is that executives might think about your generation and blow them away. Clearly communicate your value proposition and be ready to give 2-3 examples of how you were able to deliver on your promises.

After an interview, it is common practice for all of the interviewers to provide feedback to the human resources department or hiring managers on what they believe you will contribute to the organization and role. It is crucial for each and every panel member to align behind your value proposition and belief that you being a part of their team will create value. Make sure you communicate your value proposition with confidence not ego!

The success of your career in corporate America is linked to your effort and how much you are willing to fight for what you want. The old clichés “don’t burn any bridges” and “you never know who your boss will be,” are true.

Your generation may be known as the “hit-and-run” generation when it comes to careers; but if you leave too many fatalities along the way it will surely catch up to you.

Image courtesy of Joplin Job Center.

Zs came of age in an era of disruption

In many ways, it’s symbolic that Generation Z is named after the last letter in the alphabet because their arrival marks the end of clearly defined roles, traditions, and experiences. After all, Gen Z is coming of age on the heels of what has been referred to as the most disruptive decade of the last century. America has become an increasingly changing and complex place.

For example:

  • ‍Zs were born into a “modern family era” in which highly involved dads help out at home, and the nuclear family model (two parents, married, with children) represent only 46% of American households.
  • ‍Zs are the first generation to be born into a world where everything physical, from people to places to pennies, has a digital equivalent.
  • From the time they were infants, Zs had access to mobile technology. As a result, their brains have been trained to absorb large amounts of information, and Zs are especially adept at shifting between skills and subject matter.
  • Zs tend to have crystal-clear memories of sitting up for the first time at six months old because they can easily and quickly reference the photos and videos their parents shared on social media or saved in the “cloud”. 

Members of this generation have undoubtedly been shaped by crisis and disruption. This generation will largely be responsible for confronting the aftermath of the Great Recession, high youth unemployment, the effects of climate change, terrorism, energy sustainability, and more. These dark events have undoubtedly made this generation more cautious and pragmatic, but they have also provided this generation with the inspiration to change the world – and their grit will likely allow them to do it.

Coming of age during disruption means that most Zs will be comfortable being the disruptors. While Millennials tend to be collaborative and innovative, this generation tends to be sincere, reflective, thick-skinned, and self-directed, and will likely approach work in much the same way.

Zs were raised to be competitive

In the era following World War II, Boomers (1946-1964) were born and eventually became the wealthiest, most prosperous generation in history. Raised to aspire for the American Dream, this very large generation moved into positions of power and influence, and served as the workforce majority for 34 years.

With the American Dream alive and well, Boomers had no reason to teach their children, mostly Millennials, about competition. Instead, they taught them to focus on academic achievement and to be team players because if everyone works hard, everyone can win.

Enter Generation X (1965-1981). In contrast Boomers, Xers came of age during a time when change and economic and political uncertainty began to take root. They have lived through four recessions, struggled with debt and economic decline most of their lives, and watched the best educated and accomplished generation of all time (Millennials) graduate during the Great Recession and become the most debt-ridden generation in history.

Gen Xers can be defined by their independence and anti-status quo approach to life, and they have taught their Gen Z children to be competitive, believing only the best can win. They have encouraged their children to be realists, finding something they are good at and aggressively pursuing it.

Xers have raised their Zs with an intense focus on competitiveness -- in academics, sports, and other activities. This approach to parenting has many implications, but one stands out in terms of business: Gen Z is likely to lead.

Millennials in the workplace created and aggressively advocated for collaborative work environments. In fact, their aversion to leadership has been so strong, some Millennials sought out companies that boasted boss-free or team-managed workplaces.

In contrast, Zs have been raised with an individualistic, realistic, and competitive nature. They have been taught the skills to successfully defy the norm. This means we’re going to see the pendulum shift away from collaborative workplaces towards a widespread demand for, and pursuit of, leadership development.

Zs are career-focused.

While Millennials have been criticized for their “delayed adulthood”, Gen Z is showing signs of “early adulthood”. Educators and parents often describe this generation as being more serious and contemplative about the world. Zs are thinking about their career paths and exposing themselves to career training at an earlier age than Millennials. It’s probable that some of this early onset of adulthood is caused by parents, who are pressuring their children to be competitive and successful and to avoid the debt that plagued both the Gen Xers and Millennials.

The numbers from our global research found 46% of Gen Z said they know what career to pursue and 51% have taken a class at school focused on their career interests. Forty percent joined an extracurricular program (team, club) based on their career interests.

Zs are seeking financial security. 

Zs have been shaped by the aftermath of the Great Recession. They watched Millennials become debt-ridden and are concerned about falling into the same trap. XYZ University’s survey results show 66% of Zs said financial stability is more important than doing work they enjoy, which is the exact opposite of Millennial survey results.  Also, 71% of survey-takers have a paying job.

Zs value leaders who are positive and trustworthy.

When presented a list of leadership traits, Zs ranked positive and trustworthy the highest. While Millennials and Gen Zs both value trust in a leader, Millennials usually cite collaboration and vision as most important. In other words, Millennials focus on the outcomes leaders inspire, whereas Zs are more likely to consider leaders’ attitudes and personalities. To Z, what leaders encourage others to do isn’t as valuable as how they make them feel.


Zs want to be challenged.

Both Millennials and Gen Zs place a very high value on feeling challenged and appreciated in the workplace. However, according to our survey results Millennials rank appreciation slightly higher than challenge, whereas Zs rank feeling challenged slightly higher than appreciation.

Time will tell how Zs go down in history, but we know this generation’s influence on history will be unlike any other.


Does your organization have what it takes to engage the next generation? Take this quiz to find out.


Sarah Sladek is CEO of XYZ University. Our generational intelligence can assist you with engaging and retaining young talent and members.

Elisa Webb Hill

Elisa is a workforce strategy and innovation expert. Prior to becoming a speaker and trainer, she held senior roles in such notable companies as Kellogg’s, Coca-Cola, and Federated Department Stores. She brings these executive management insights to her presentations, helping organizations navigate workforce shifts, engage young professionals, and implement future-focused talent strategies.

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