Marketing Eye
by Sylvia Pennington published on The Age

Managers are unimpressed with Gen Y staff, so what lessons do they need to heed to make them more employable?

Considered taking a young person on in your business then thought better of it?

You're far from alone, says Melbourne hospitality entrepreneur Peter Coronica. His latest venture is Fingerprint Me, a private youth employment academy offering career counselling and coaching to help under-25s become more "job ready".

"I saw a real need [for] it as an employer," Coronica says.

With youth unemployment hitting 14.2 per cent earlier this year – the highest level seen since 1998 according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics – job seekers aged 15 to 24 are up against it.

Many young people struggle to move beyond the pattern of "patchy part-time work" while others start but fail to finish vocational courses, Coronica says.

A survey of 200 hiring managers by online talent marketplace Upwork this year suggests Australian businesses are less than enamoured with candidates from the younger generation.

Only 21 per cent of recruiters believed Gen Y staff were a more desirable hire than Gen X. Eighty-one per cent said Gen Y workers were more likely to have egotistical tendencies than their older counterparts, and 84 per cent believed Gen X had better leadership qualities.

My Small Business polled business owners on the attributes they wish more young people could bring to the workplace – and those they'd like to see them leave behind.

A good attitude

Part-time job as soon as you turn 15? Far less likely for 21st-century teenagers, Coronica says, and as a result many young people haven't acquired a work ethic or learnt the basics of being a good employee.

Think presentation, showing up on time and appreciating that the boss's needs are just as important as your own, he says.

Switch off – and switch on

You may have grown up in the internet age but you'll do better if you switch off your digital life-support system when you're on my dime, Ben Neumann, founder of the mobile bar service Liquid Infusion, advises the under-25 crowd.

"Put your phone away, stop browsing the net for the latest Tweet, hashtag and update from friend or celebrity," Neumann says.

"Focus on your day's work and not on whether the Kardashians have bought a new outfit."

Humility and patience

A modicum of confidence in your own abilities is fabulous. Letting boundless self-belief run rampant too soon after induction day, less so.

Young people would do well to remember that positions of responsibility are the result of toil and a track record, according to The Interact Group founder Nikki Brouwers.

"They need to remember that it takes time to work their way up the ladder – it's not their job to run the company straight away," she says.

Stick around

Jobs for life may be long gone but willingness to stay put, at least for a while, is still prized by employers.

Company loyalty is a foreign concept, unfortunately, for many Gen Y and Millennial workers, according to Marketing Eye managing director Mellissah Smith.

"The investment that employers place in training them for what can often be only a one-year stint is high, yet young employees feel that it's an entitlement," she says.

"That perhaps the company is lucky to have them."

Try harder

Prepared to put in effort – to a point? Not good enough if you're a young person trying to carve out a career or score an opening in today's competitive market, according to Sarina Russo, founder of the eponymous employment and training empire.

"Become an above-average person," she advises.

"Work on yourself. Develop an above-average handshake. Develop an above-average smile. Develop above-average skills, above-average passion and an above-average walk."

Please and thank you

And a little common courtesy wouldn't go astray while you're at it, Smith adds.

She believes many young workers rub clients and colleagues up the wrong way because theinging to say thank you. Men holding the door open for women – apparently this doesn't happen any more but to me it's basic manners.

"Respecting your co-workers' time and efforts. Obviously, it's not all [young people] but it certainly is a good majority, which is a concern."

Do you employ young workers in your business? What skills do you wish they'd been taught before entering the workforce?

Source: The Age