A few days ago I came across this excellent piece by Colleen Dilenschneider on Brazen Careerist on how non-profits can find and hire gen y leaders in response to the pending leadership gap. What stood out to me, though, were the comments.

“There is no leadership deficit. Many people who have lost their jobs in the for profit world bring experience, achievements, and strong resumes to the non-profit world. They also bring a depleted retirement portfolio and will likely be working for a long time to come.

I know this personally as I work for one myself and am in a leadership position.

Experience and results are what non-profits are looking for, and will for some time. We seek stability in our new hires, and the data both externally and internally point to turnover that is far too high to entrust leadership roles to GenY just yet.”
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“I read all I needed to read when I looked at the publish date – 2006. That predates the recession. Therefore it predates the current employment dynamic by a long shot.

I suspect that many of these jobs will instead be filled by layed off Boomers and Xers who have bills to get caught up on and retirement funds to replenish. And it will take them longer to do both at the rates of pay offered at non-profits.

When someone can prove conclusively to me that turnover rates are better than 18 months for GenYs, then investing in their development may make sense. But even then, they have to be willing to pay their dues and wait in line – sadly – like the rest of us have had to do.”

While I am aware that there is growing competition for jobs between millenials and boomers because of the economy, a complete rejection of millennials in the name of stability never crossed my mind.

The response to a weak economy should not be to resort to the same approaches that made you vulnerable in the first place including top-down exclusionary practices. When it comes to getting the right people on board millenials bring education, the spirit of collaboration, and a mastery of new technology all of which are crucial to not only getting through the recession but also bouncing back.

In fact, now is the best time to recruit millennials.

Firstly, as the economy has gotten worse we have seen an increase in the number of young people who want to serve, indicating a commitment to social change and an openness to new career paths. Instead of twiddling our thumbs at this impressive shift we should be out there providing valuable opportunities to explore and connect with the sector.

Secondly, this increase follows another important mantra for millennials: a good career isn’t all about money. Don’t get me wrong—paying absurdly low wages will not attract anyone, millennial, boomer, or the folks in between. However, the benefits millennials seek outside of salary allow them to be more flexible employees and focus instead on the values an organization has.

And lastly they have proven themselves as brilliant innovators to old problems. Using technology and teamwork members of gen y have produced and continue to demonstrate unique approaches to pressing problems. Additionally, their desire to work together and try new ideas has lead them in droves to social entrepreneurship.

This is not to say that milennials are magical and that hiring one will solve all of your problems. In fact, as noted by the commenters above, the biggest issue with hiring millenials is our notorious turnover rate.

But here’s what you may not know: we don’t job hop for shits and giggles and many of us would love to stick with one employer. Our moving about is a response to the lack of stability and loyalty we see in the workplace. The people who commented above may see a well qualified candidate recently laid off from the for-profit sector. I see someone who probably put in years at a company only to be let go as if his/her work didn’t mean a damn thing. In other words, loyalty is a two way street and our workplace expectations promote stability and benefit everyone else we work with.

So as you regroup and try to rebound include millennials in your plans, don’t exclude them.