Effective Use of Gen Y Talent…Why We Need to Look Beyond Job Descriptions

18 Jun
Companies are struggling these days. Times are tough. There’s a lot of work to be done, plenty of jobs that need to be filled, yet in many instances, there’s no money to fill them.
Well that’s a problem…
So how do we fix this? It’s simple, really.
We look beyond the confinements of job descriptions. 
Here’s the deal…
Employers complain about budget cuts and the inability to hire more workers, but more often than not, the issue isn’t that they LACK human resources.
They just aren’t using their resources properly.
When an employee is hired, it’s usually to fill a specific void within an organization and so they’re given a basic job description detailing their responsibilities. Fine. I get that…
But let’s say that employees discover that they can assist the organization in ways not described in their job descriptions? Can these descriptions be altered or are they set in stone?
What if employees have ideas that can potentially help your company? Do you shut them down or do you allow them to contribute?
Great organizations do the latter.

As a Gen Y worker, nothing’s been more frustrating than not being able to use my talents in the jobs that I’ve held. Usually, whenever I’ve had an idea or wanted to contribute in ways that go beyond the span of my job description, I’ve been shut down almost immediately. “That’s not your job”, “That’s not what we hired you to do.”

How annoying.

Unfortunately, that’s the attitude shared by many managers and as a result, they’re missing out on opportunities to optimize the impact of their human capital.

However, I HAVE been lucky to have some managers that understand this and they’ve been awesome. Those are the managers I want to work for. Those are the managers I want to work with. Those are the leaders that I admire.

But for the most part, managers aren’t using their Gen Y talent as they should. Many young professionals have so much to contribute but they aren’t allowed the opportunity as management insists that these workers need to simply “pay their dues“. They’re hired into entry-level positions and their responsibilities consist of making copies and scheduling meetings. No more, no less.

Well that’s dumb.

Because if an employee has an idea or can contribute to efforts that help meet the goals of the organization, who cares what their title is? Who cares that the task isn’t stated on their job description? Add it on there.

As long as employees are fulfilling the needs of the job they were hired to do, how is this an issue? Rather than seeing it as a problem, shouldn’t we be seeing this as an opportunity? I mean, employers ARE being asked to do more with less resources, aren’t they?

By limiting employees to the responsibilities listed on initial job descriptions, you’re doing your company a great disservice.

If you don’t want to completely toss the notion of job descriptions, that’s fine, I understand. But remember that theyaren’t engraved in stone. They’re not written in permanent marker.

They can and should be changed if you wish to get the most out of the people that you hired.

The talent is there. You just need to use it better.

About these ads

16 Responses to “Effective Use of Gen Y Talent…Why We Need to Look Beyond Job Descriptions”

  1. Steve Borek June 18, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

    The biggest issue facing employers today is finding great people. Even in this economy.

    There are many people who can do the job yet are passed up because they don’t have enough experience. Companies usually hire for experience and fire for attitude.

    I say flip this thinking.

    Don’t hire for experience. Hire for attitude. We can always give a new hire the experience. How do you do that? Let the job talk. We’re looking for what the job wants in terms of behaviors, values, emotional intelligence, etc.

    Then we assess the candidate vs. what the job is looking for. This is done without personal bias.

    Here’s my process.


    Good post.

  2. Diane Neff, Ed.D. June 18, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

    So true, and unfair in both directions. Experienced employees are expected to go above and beyond their job descriptions just to be considered effective, so why not allow the younger employees the chance to prove their fresh ideas can be valuable as well. It’s also the best time to take those chances on new ideas – if they don’t work, it’s a learning experience and you have a lesser negative effect on fewer people. Once you’ve been on the job a while, you may impact more people more seriously. Great post!

  3. emmawritesindenver June 18, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

    It’s nice to know I’m not alone in this world! But how do you draw the line with employers when you see that they are taking advantage of your talent and not paying you? When you do more work at the same price, they think you will continue to the same amount of work at the entry price, and never pay you what you are worth. I’d love to know how people overcome that obstacle.

  4. Tina Del Buono, PMAC June 19, 2012 at 2:37 am #

    I think that employers, if they can, should, look at all sides of hiring someone. Finding the right fit is important, and as Jim Collins says ” you need to make sure you have the right people on the bus in the right positions before you take off driving.

  5. hughcurtler June 19, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    Well said. Those managers who don’t listen should be put out to pasture — and people like you promoted!

  6. Michelle June 20, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

    This is not just a Gen Y issue, many employers do not have any idea of what talents, skills or ideas that any of their employees have. Being more in touch with your staff and learning about them is one way to get more from any employee. I know of an example where I was speaking to a local motel owner who told me he needed a relief manager to cover them whilst they had time off and he told me that they could not find anyone…..I knew that one of his cleaners who would be perfect for the job….I knew her as the President of the local School Council, an extremley hard working committee member of a couple of local groups and one smart cookie. I suggested that he might talk to her…his response “She’s just a cleaner, no way”……Well 4 years down the track guess who is the Branch Manager at one of our local banks….”the cleaner”. Putting people into boxes is not an effective way of getting the most out of them.

  7. deuxchicago June 21, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    I love this article and totally agree. I started my career just out of college in smaller, entrepreneurial companies where I could pretty much make what I wanted out of my job, and it basically ruined me for corporate life! There are obviously limitations to where a small biz can take your career, so I’ve moved on and am luckily in a larger company that’s pretty good about encouraging department changes, etc., but I think that’s definitely the exception to the rule! Thanks for sharing :) -L

  8. MarlaGottschalk June 21, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

    Kayla – great points. I just wrote on this topic for Talent Zoo. I think you’ll find the issue applies to all age groups…and all types of organizations.


    (Think we may have our first Gen Y question.)

  9. Kate Swaffer June 24, 2012 at 11:59 pm #

    Great article, but I agree with Michelle, this is not just a Gen Y issue as so many companies simply cannot open their eyes to the talent they have within their own organisation. I see this at conferences with speakers being chosen from other countries, and brilliant speakers from within the country of origin of the conference being ignored. Keep up your insightful writing.

  10. spencertucci June 25, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

    Reblogged this on University Ave and commented:

  11. Undercurrent June 27, 2012 at 2:04 am #

    This is so so sooooo true! You go girl :) As a GenY’er myself AND someone in my office who is often talking about what you’re saying — it’s so amazing (and kinda like DUH) that more leaders aren’t re-working how they manage their best asset — YOUNG TALENT.

  12. surfsideyouth July 4, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

    Hey there! I’ve enjoyed reading some of your thoughts. Kinda struggling with generational gap issues myself. Being passionate about lead. Dev. especially with young leaders, it’s frustrated when it seems like you just won’t be heard until deep I to your 30’s. Keep up the hard work!

  13. Wendyw July 5, 2012 at 5:16 am #

    Catch 22. You work for someone else, you do it their way. Period. And they dont always listen to you in your 30s, either. They dont WANT to hear your new ideas because it creates a power struggle. I made the mistake of taking cues frm the film “working girl”, for 15 years thinking theyd love my ideas. Im genx. Lots of compliments, little promotion. Took almost 12 years for me to become Marketing Director! Listen to my groundbreaking show “Day Jobs” on Blogtalkradio.com/punkprincess.

  14. fiztrainer July 6, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

    You are so right here!! :D


  1. Companies Need To Make It Easier For Gen Y to Job-Hop « Gen Y Girl - July 29, 2012

    […] out on talent. And you know what? Your people and their talent are your greatest assets. So use it. Make better use of your talent. If your employees are expending their skill sets, that’s great! Let them! Encourage them! […]

  2. Job-hopping Gen Y Benefit Employers | The Savvy Intern by YouTern - October 23, 2012

    […] out on talent. And you know what? Your people and their talent are your greatest assets. So use it. Make better use of your talent. If your employees are expending their skill sets, that’s great! Let them! Encourage them! […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,736 other followers

%d bloggers like this: