Meet Your Future Employee

Recent grads are bold, brash and tech-savvy, but they lack some key skills today's IT departments can't do without.

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"I'm not sure a lot of the technology things kids are doing promote their listening skills -- with IM or even Facebook, it's cryptic one-liners where they respond right away," Kaiser says. "And when you're writing with all this Web 2.0 stuff, no one cares how well you spell a word. It's a very different way of communication."

Chris Dodge is one student who certainly has his tech credentials in line. Thanks to his parents, both of whom worked in the tech sector, Dodge has been exposed to PCs since birth and knows enough to design and launch a blog, produce a podcast, or shoot, edit and post a YouTube video.

Dodge, now a sophomore at Georgetown University majoring in international politics at the School of Foreign Service, doesn't deny that his generation spends hours online in chat rooms or e-mailing and texting. But he takes exception to the suggestion that his generation's communication skills are compromised.

"Five minutes after [students] write their one-line text messages, they go to class and take five pages of notes or go back to their rooms and write 10-page research papers," he says. "I think the world is absolutely valuing speed over quality, but that doesn't mean we're incapable of appropriately expressing ourselves."

Worker Bee 2.0

The Generation Y crowd also has a different take on what it means to be an employee. While their parents may be company loyalists willing to put in long hours or pack up and move for the good of the business, not so for Generation Y.

These young people have seen firsthand the physical and emotional damage that working long hours can have on family life and health, say human resource experts. They also came of age witnessing the trauma of corporate downsizing and the outsourcing of technology-oriented positions to low-cost labor regions like India.

The new generation, therefore, is a lot less willing to bend to corporate politics and policies and has a certain air of entitlement when it comes to employment.

Generation Y, for instance, expects to be handed state-of-the-art technology (read: smart phone, laptop and wireless) as soon as they come on board, and they are less willing to start at the bottom rung and work their way up the corporate ladder.

"Generation Y is interested in wrangling their way through an organization, testing the waters and moving here or there if it so suits them," explains Jeff Alderton, principal for human capital at Deloitte Consulting LLC. "They're eventually going to get where they want to go, but in their way, not in the traditional fashion."

The new generation is also far bolder in asking for entitlements, whether it's a pay raise, training on the company's dime or simply time off. "They ask questions I never would have asked," says Mark Banks, vice president of human resources at Sciele Pharma Inc., an Atlanta-based pharmaceuticals company. "It's not about what they can do for you, but what as a company can you do to develop them."

One of the primary concerns of Generation Y is a flexible schedule and healthy work/life balance. This is a generation raised in the era of 24/7 connectivity, of wireless access and of being able to work wherever and whenever it suits them. The idea of trading in that flexibility for a structured workplace doesn't sit well with them.

Technology, they reason, is the enabler for letting people get their work done independently, without having to be in a certain place for a certain period of time.

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