$75,000 in debt.

That's the number I remember hearing when I met a  Millennial in a coffee shop a couple of years ago. I couldn't quite imagine what that meant.

Stress, for one.

Every job is tense and possibly temporary, because you don't know if it will last. If it doesn't, you don't know if you can find a replacement.

It's like stepping onto an escalator without knowing if it's going up or down. Or jumping into an Uber piloted by someone who may or may not be asleep. Everything we thought about the tension that comes from Millennials entering the workforce is true.

Now we know who they want to blame.

According to a new survey conducted by Axios and SurveyMonkey this month, Millennials are in a bit of a panic, and they blame the Boomers.

It's all about the job market. If you have read about  artificial intelligence over the last year, and heard about the concerns, there's a distinct possibility that some jobs will be displaced by automations. I'm talking about jobs you might actually have right now, like an air traffic controller, an insurance examiner, or a travel agent. The writing is on the wall, because machine learning can analyze reams of data in the blink of an eye.

And, they never get tired.

Or complain about the coffee.

Or demand you provide fruit and yogurt in the break-room.

The problem? Boomers are safe. In general, they have already amassed a nice nest egg. They are in retirement mode. They have incredible tacit knowledge, and they probably are in a management role. They run companies or report to those who do.

Millennials? Not so much.

If you're fresh out of college and someone handed you a little reminder about your loans that are due after six months--and then you picked yourself off the floor after fainting when you looked at the total amount due--you know there's a problem. I'm not against college at all, and I even mentor students about what life is like in the real world. I feel their pain.

But I do feel the blame is misplaced.

The survey spelled it out pretty clearly. Millennials hate Boomers. They answered this question in the survey: Have the Baby Boomers made things better or worse for your generation? We should not be surprised by the results. Of those surveyed, 51% said things are worse. Only 13% said they were better. You can draw your own conclusions about this, but the reality is that Millennials feel unprepared. They're also underpaid in some cases, and they have to quickly gain experience and outpace other generations.

From what I've seen, though, the issue is not about AI displacement, Boomers holding onto the good jobs, or other factors like the high cost of tuition. The simple fact, from what I've seen firsthand, is that Millennials are not capitalizing on their strengths. Wow, are they fast thinkers. They are insightful beyond belief. They perceive things quickly.

Yes, there's tension. Yes, Boomers are kind of annoying when it comes to job security. But if you're a Millennial, know this. Hiring managers don't really want to hire bots. They want to hire capable humans. Make yourself that person. Outpace everyone else, speak up at meetings, work late if you have to (or work smarter--that's a better option).

When insurmountable odds are stacked against you, and you have that $75,000 loan looming over you like a dark cloud--even at age 30--the best approach is to find a job where you become invaluable, where the boss can't help but give you the juicy projects.

Forget the debt, it will all work out. Make yourself indispensable.

Do you agree? I'd love to hear your thoughts about how to combat this problem of job tension, lack of experience, and older folks having the best jobs. Ping me here.

Published on: Apr 28, 2018