Those workers born between 1982 and 1993 (also known as Gen Y) are taking a fresh new approach to today’s business world. Rather than becoming attached to the big corporate model, Gen Y workers are instead attracted to an entrepreneurial approach, favoring freedom and flexibility over policy, and are highly versed in social media. Thus, it’s not surprising that so many small businesses are looking to tap into this energy in order to maximize the potential of this new generation of workers.

A new study by Millennial Branding and PayScale looks more closely at many of the trends that seem to define Gen Y. According to this “Gen Y on the Job” study, most Gen Y workers are underemployed. Despite most having college degrees (only 0.2 percent have no degree and 1.3 percent have only some college experience), many are settling for retail and other jobs that don’t tap into their potential in order to pay back student loans. Similarly, the study found that most of Gen Y aren’t working for large companies, with 47 percent actually employed with small companies with less than 100 employees. The general consensus seems to be that Gen Y workers favor smaller settings, as they are able to make a larger impact much more quickly.

Within the study, specific companies were ranked on attributes specific to Gen Y, such as pay scale, meaningfulness of the job, job satisfaction, and percentage of Gen Y employees. The top companies were all fast-paced, flexible, and innovative enterprises from the technology industry. With such a strong affinity for technology settings, it’s not surprising that the most common Gen Y job skills focus on online marketing and social media. In fact, the top 5 job skills were: tableau software, blogging, social media optimization, press releases, and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) analysis. Likewise, Gen Y workers have for the most part pursued college majors centered around both science and entrepreneurship. The top 3 college majors were, in fact, neuroscience, bioengineering, and entrepreneurial studies.

Finally, in terms of geographical location, the study found that of the 20 largest metro areas in the U.S., Seattle is considered to be the top location. This is due to strong wage growth, high median pay, and the strong presence of technology companies.


Schawbel, Dan. “6 New Findings About the Gen-Y Worker” American Express Open Forum. 9/6/12. (9/8/12.)

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