News You Can Use: Generation Sell, Share or Self-Employed? What People Saying About Gen Y

In one day, we read three articles about Generation Y in The New York Times and The New York Post — that covered topics from self-promotion and gossip to whether or not you really need to go to college to succeed. Here are the soundbites:

Millennials Embrace Entrepreneurialism & Salesmanship: On the front page of the Times’ SundayReview section, an article entitled “Generation Sell” by William Deresiewicz, paints Millennials as “polite, pleasant, moderate, earnest, friendly” and  comments that “We’re all selling something today, because even if we aren’t literally selling something…we’re always selling ourselves. We use social media to create a product — to create a brand — and the product is us. We treat ourselves as the business, something to be managed and promoted.” Our question is, “What is wrong with that?” In this extremely challenging job market that Gen Y is graduating into, if they don’t sell themselves, no one is going to do it for them. In order to get noticed, as we discuss in our book, Be Your Own Best Publicist, you must treat yourself as a product to be promoted.’

Does a College Degree Spell S-U-C-C-E-S-S or just D-E-B-T?:  In the “PostScript” section of  Sunday’s New York Post was an op-ed called “Talent Show” that questioned whether a four-year college education was necessary to have a successful career and whether, in fact, Gen Y and the kids behind it would be better off bypassing college and its high-cost to focus on building skills that companies like Google and Facebook value more than a degree. Something to keep in mind: Not every college dropout is like Mark Zuckerberg. Most people who don’t get a higher education are less attractive job candidates, not more so.  According to the editorial, “Tomorrow’s 22-year-olds will have experience and skills instead of degrees and debt.” While there are plenty of examples of young entrepreneurs finding success, most ventures fail and, if there’s no college degree to fall back on, we’re not sure bypassing an education is the right choice.

Gossip Can Harm Reputation — Both Yours and the People You Talk About: Another op-ed in the New York Post this past weekend, “You Didn’t Hear This From Me, But…” examined gossip and its effect on reputation. Gossip is “a tool for getting along with other people and a weapon for getting ahead of them” says the op-ed’s author, John Whitfield.  And “online anonymity makes us more judgmental and aggressive” — meaning our ability to post things with no direct repercussions enables people to be more vicious in their comments on the Web. As we talk about in our book, your digital footprint outlasts you and everything said about you lives online for eternity, so you must be careful you say and share and vigilant about finding ways to protect your reputation.

Is Gen Y more or less savvy when it comes to building and maintaining a digital rep?  According to surveys cited in the article, 18 to 29 year-old digital natives are “more likely to customize the privacy settings on social networking sites.” But even that might not hide what you don’t want potential employers to find: 45 percent of hiring professionals are checking out candidates’ social media profiles before interviewing and 35 percent of US employers admit to rejecting a job applicant after looking at his or her social-networking site.

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