With a constant barrage of information about a tough job market, it’s hard to believe anyone has much choice in their job selection. The general rhetoric is that if you have a job, you should be happy and keep that position. The job market is recovering, but sluggish in many areas. Take any job you can find, especially if it pays well.
But the truth is many people are still choosing their career paths based on genuine interest and passion, not just as a means to pay rent and buy groceries. And perhaps surprisingly, it’s more common among millennials, who arguably need that paycheck the most. Millennials are quickly becoming defined as the generation saddled with enormous loads of student loan debt, now totaling over $1 trillion across the country. Rent prices are skyrocketing in several cities. But in certain career fields, even young people can still choose a job based on preference, not necessity.
Job satisfaction more important than a paycheck
The place where this is perhaps most easily demonstrated is in the Information Technology sector. The field has a lot going for it, as jobs in IT consistently rank high in terms of job growth and the amount on the paychecks. You would think knowing that information as it emerged within the past few years would prompt students to study IT, even if they weren’t so excited about it. However, a recent study conducted by Wakefield Research and Progressive Insurance found that young workers looking for IT jobs are still looking for job satisfaction over compensation.
In fact, 81% of millennials in the IT sector said they would take a smaller compensation package — be it salary, benefits, or perks — in order to do a job they were more passionate about. What’s more, 58% said they would prefer a flexible work option, such as working from home at least part of the time, even if a less flexible arrangement paid 20% more.
In addition, millennials who were surveyed for the study said they’d be willing to switch jobs even within a few months if they weren’t happy or adequate opportunities to advance. When switching jobs, the study found most millennials (about 82%) would be willing to relocate for a better job — even if it meant packing a suitcase to travel 600 miles or more.
Underpaid, but successful long term?
Progressive had a selfish reason for investigating millennials’ interests in IT — the company has plenty of spots it would like to fill in that department. “With nearly 3,500 tech positions at Progressive, it’s important for us to invest in what makes this demographic tick to ensure we’re poised for attracting the top talent,” said Lynley Williams, recruiting director for Progressive Insurance, in a press release. “By and large what we found is that millennials interested in IT want a job that allows them flexibility and growth opportunities, and which inspires them. The great thing is, we’re already there.”
The study asked questions of 1,000 American millennials in the IT field, which is obviously not representative of the entire generation. But choosing passion over money is a romantic idea, and one that could be part of the reason that millennials today are underpaid compared to preceding generations. However, it’s also why millennials might end up succeeding in the long run.
The younger generation seems to understand the companies they work for will be looking out for their bottom line. When that contrasts with the wellbeing of employees, the employees might get the short end of the stick. Millennials know this, and are less loyal to a company as a result. That lack of “Company Man” allegiance earns the scorn of grandparents everywhere, but it also might be what ultimately keeps the youngest working generation afloat in future years.
Less loyalty, better opportunities
This maze of factors also contributes to the reason why younger people tend to job hop more frequently than their parents. With less loyalty, millennials are after what will make them happy. In some cases, that is a bigger paycheck. In others, it’s a new opportunity in a position they think they will enjoy more. When you choose a career based on passion and not a paycheck, it makes millennials more willing to continue chasing their career goals, even if it means eating rice and beans for a few weeks.
That philosophy won’t always pan out the way idealists believe it should. The term “starving artist” exists for a reason. However, not being tied to a certain company or a specific dollar figure on a paycheck means that younger people do have a bit more freedom to move around if a job isn’t working for them. Is it perhaps a little self-indulged? Sure. But it also means a generation of employees — IT personnel and more — have a shot of getting (and keeping) a job they actually enjoy.
Follow Nikelle on Twitter @Nikelle_CS