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Portrait of a Worker as a Young Man (or Woman)


What’s the average Gen Y worker look like? Understanding that dealing in generalities is always risky when it comes to any demographic, there are a few outstanding skills that Millennials tend to possess. PayScale’s Gen Y on the Job data package reveals just a few of the greatest things young workers have to offer.

gen y worker 

(Photo Credit: Death to the Stock Photo)

Popular Majors

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While it would be a mistake to try to determine a definitive list of “Gen Y majors,” PayScale’s data does indicate that there are a few areas of study that are more likely to draw this generation of workers than previous generations. Here, we see the top 10, and how much more likely Millennials are to have chosen them for their educational focus than Gen Xers or Baby Boomers:

1. Neurobiology and Neurosciences: 1.91x

2. Biological/Biosystems Engineering: 1.80x

3. International/Global Studies: 1.79x

4. Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations: 1.76x

5. Biomedical/Medical Engineering: 1.75x

6. Intercultural/Multicultural and Diversity Studies: 1.71x

7. Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management: 1.69x

8. Science, Technology, and Society: 1.65x

9. Engineering Physics: 1.61x

10. East Asian Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics: 1.60x

Top Skills

Of course, the same caveat applies when it comes to divining Millennial skills. One thing immediately stands out, however, as you scan down the list: compared to previous generations, younger workers are right at the intersection of technology and marketing.

While Baby Boomers are more likely to boast superior skills in things like senior management, COBOL, RPGLE, and Gen Xers corner the market on Lotus Domino, Software Development Management, and Enterprise Application Integration, Gen Y workers lean toward technologies that allow then to optimize content for search, or gain insight into how users interact with what they create.

Take a look at their top 10 skills, and how much more likely Gen Y is to have them, compared to previous generations:

1. Autodesk SketchBook Pro: 2.57

Median Salary: $47,700

2. Google Ad Words: 2.47

Median Salary: $46,100

3. Google Analytics: 2.30

Median Salary: $46,700

4. Press Releases: 2.26

Median Salary: $38,500

5. Marketo: 2.23

Median Salary: $55,200

6. Social Media Optimization: 2.22

Median Salary: $40,500

7. Blogging: 2.22

Median Salary: $40,000

8. Django: 2.21

Median Salary: $75,600

9. Bloomberg: 2.19

Median Salary: $69,300

10. DNA: 2.16

Median Salary: $37,100

Who Are the Millennials?

In short, Millennials are lean, mean, branding machines. Comfortable with new and emerging technologies and seemingly able to think in several directions at once, they’re the workers most likely to be able to handle six different social media channels without losing a thread. If you’ve got a co-worker who speaks earnestly about her personal brand, and doesn’t sound ridiculous, odds are, she was born during or after 1982.

On other hand, if you’re that Millennial worker, and you feel like you’re not getting the respect you deserve from your older colleagues, keep these skills in mind when you’re pulling together your rationale for a shot at that promotion or raise. It’s easy to overlook your abilities in areas that seem like second nature to you, but some of the technologies you’ve grown up with — or worked hard to acquire — can be big moneymakers for your employer.

Just make sure you build your case for more money and more responsibility based on facts and accurate research on job descriptions and salary ranges. Start making plans without the right foundation, and you run the risk of alienating the boss and getting less than you deserve.

Tell Us What You Think

What’s the key to getting along with workers from other generations? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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Young Nation

“keep these skills in mind when you’re pulling together”

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