The Millennial Workplace
Image by Haldane Martin on Flickr

The relationship between employer and employee used to be simple: employees handed their minds and bodies over for 40 hours each week, often for decades, in exchange for salary and security, like pensions. However, the job market is changing rapidly; Millennials’ different take on jobs, the gig economy, and an improved transparency in job search that allows companies to tap into the undisclosed job market. What do these developments tell us about how the job market will be organized in the future?


  • Last week, Google launched ‘Google for Jobs’. Google will partner with Linkedin, Monster, CareerBuilder, Glassdoor, and Facebook, and integrate all vacancies in its one search function. Since many employers do not use standard terminology for different jobs, Google for Jobs will use machine learning to categorize and cluster such jobs in a manner that makes it possible for job seekers to find a close match for their skills and experience.
  • In the post-2008 period there is an increase in poorly paid, part-time, self-employed, and low-quality jobs, referred to as the gig economy. The gig economy is a peer-to-peer phenomenon, in which consumers are able to access the assets and services of other consumers directly through digital platforms. Google for Jobs makes finding work via a smartphones easier.
  • The online job market is growing in the gig economy. An existing example is Upwork, a global freelancing platform. Traditional staffing agencies are facing new competition.


Ten years ago, newspapers offered jobs through sections with hundreds of vacancies. In the job-for-life era, people would remain with the same job for decades, but this has changed over time. Careers became more scattered. Different skills and experiences were less tied to traditional positions that remained the same over years, as we noted earlier. Organizations became strategically flexible and required different skills and knowledge to adjust to a rapid changing environment. And for job seekers, new initiatives like LinkedIn and Monster made the job market more transparent.

Even in a global job market, localism — in the sense of reliance on mutual trust and social connections — will remain a feature

Meanwhile, work itself has changed profoundly. The younger generations of job seekers prefer a flat corporate culture; they place more value on pursuing a career aligned with their passions and less on the status of a job or reaching senior positions. They are likely to switch jobs and build on multiple micro-careers. The downside of this is that the reason for this is the gig economy. Millennials are trapped in a situation in which positions are offering fewer certainties than traditional positions used to offer. The job market plays into this by offering small and ad-hoc tasks instead of long-term vacancies, e.g. as Taskrabbit already does. Aided by better analytics and a digitalization of the search process, the job market is a lot more transparent and experiences less friction. Job seekers experience larger competition. As a result, network organizations that rely on relationships, teams, and communities grow and create little islands that offer protection and security. Even in a global job market, localism — in the sense of reliance on mutual trust and social connections — will remain a feature.

For now, we rely on human intermediaries to match demand and supply in the job search market. Currently, traditional staffing parties create deep profiles of candidates. In the future, algorithms will increasingly refine the job search market with additional data about candidates’ preferences. And perhaps in time, the improved use of big data will even be able to make the perfect match. This prospect pushes traditional staffing parties to refocus. Intermediaries will professionalize the skills search engine technology and machine learning cannot offer. Services that support the development of a personal career ladder, instead of a corporate career ladder, will increasingly be required. For intermediaries, the opportunity lies with the human factor: coaching, career advice, personal development support, enhancing networking skills, and enabling support to integrate lifelong learning in careers.