Study: Gen Y is overqualified, indicating underemployment - WNEM TV 5

Study reveals Gen Y workers seek startup, tech opportunities

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Dan Schawbel is an author, public speaker and founder of Millennial Branding. (Source: Wikimedia/Eric Gauster) Dan Schawbel is an author, public speaker and founder of Millennial Branding. (Source: Wikimedia/Eric Gauster)

(RNN) – For Generation Y job seekers, small is the new big.

A study released Tuesday suggests members of the Gen Y workforce prefer employment from small businesses instead of large companies.

And although more than 63 percent of Gen Y workers have bachelor's degrees, the study revealed most of the positions they hold do not require a college degree.

The report, released by research firm Millennial Branding and salary data software company PayScale, found 47 percent are employed by small companies with fewer than 100 employees.

Meanwhile, the study found 30 percent of Gen Y employees work for firms that have between 100 and 1,500 employees. The results came from a year-long survey of 500,000 workers born between 1982 and 1993.

The study suggested the trend may be reflective of Gen Y's preference for flexibility in the workplace. Consequently, Gen Y students are more likely to major in entrepreneurial studies than ever before, and the best job opportunities are coming from technology companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft.

"They see Mark Zuckerberg and the movie The Social Network and they revere them," said Millennial Branding founder Dan Schawbel. "They want to be like them."

Many technology companies have pioneered workplace flexibility programs and different ways to retain staff, such as telecommuting.

They also tend to give Gen Y workers a sense of fulfillment through their jobs. Schawbel said companies like Google give employees a chance to solve major issues and pioneer solutions many will use, such as Gmail or Google Drive.

Those opportunities, however, have been difficult to find in the current economy.

Gen Y college graduates are finding ways to make money fast to pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations, but doing so requires them to take jobs they are overqualified for.

"Maybe they'll have a retail job, but they'll use that retail job to fund their ability to fund a business," Schawbel said. "They do something they hate to fund something they love."

Schawbel added small companies have made themselves more accessible to Gen Y workers with simpler hiring practices, allowing them to obtain employment faster.

Larger companies typically have longer interview processes and complex human resource departments, making it difficult to get a job offer. 

Small, startup businesses yield similar opportunities as technology companies do for the Gen Y work force.

"Startup companies could fail within six months, but you're a part of something, and if it succeeds it's a huge deal for you. It's high growth, and that's what really attracts them," Schawbel said.

The study also suggested the top Gen Y job skills are focused on social media and online marketing. It outlined the group's most common skills, which included Tableau (data analysis) software, blogging, social media optimization and press release writing.

"Millennials are arming themselves with skills and educational training focused in technology and social media, two areas with great growth potential," said PayScale lead economist Katie Bardaro in a statement. "However, the shaky economy has forced many of them into a world of underemployment nonetheless."

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