Choosing a boss

Gen-Yers need to think carefully about what they want to get from an employer, and remember that culture is much more important than cash. MICHAEL PHILLIPS

Michael Phillips

By Michael Phillips

Think for a moment about when you first started your career. No, not working at McDonald’s as a pimply 15 year old or collecting trolleys at Coles, but when you took your first big career step. You may have just come out of school or have finished uni, but you were taking that first real dive into the “grown up” world of full-time work.

OK, so you’re mentally in that place right now? Good. Now ask yourself – what were you looking for in that job? Chances are these things spring to mind:

  • Money (the more the merrier).
  • Perks (a flash new computer and maybe your own stationery – oooohh!).
  • Importance to overall CV for future opportunities (“I worked at Macquarie Bank…”).
  • Mum and dad pushed me into it.

The funny thing about this is as you get older and hopefully wiser, these things change dramatically.

For example, the one thing that I rarely thought of when I first started out was a desire to work with good people and have a good manager. It’s only when you have a bad culture with a terrible boss that you wish for that one job where you don’t pull faces at your boss behind their back.

Last week I talked about the important things for a manager to look for in a Gen-Y applicant, but this week the shoe is on the other foot – what should Gen-Yers be looking for in a job?

While you don’t often think about it Gen-Yers, the importance of who you work with is far greater than money, perks and parental pressure. Based on my rough calculation, we spend around 35% of our lives (sleep not included) with our work colleagues. It’s an astronomical figure considering you aren’t necessarily doing this out of choice.

So if this is the case, why wouldn’t you want to spend 35% of your waking lives with respected friends/colleagues enjoying your role and learning from them. So, what should you look out for when searching for the utopian work culture?

I’m glad you asked. Here are a few key signs that show a business has the right potential:

  • Informal recruiting process. This is a tough one, but in my experience; if you’re put through the ringer in the interview with psych tests, aptitude tests and potentially lie detector tests, then this may not be the role for you. A rigid approach to hiring shows a rigid and hierarchical approach to management, which are immediate warning signs for me.
  • A business must involve its staff in recruiting. If management trust and honour their current people they will value their input into the recruiting process and this bodes very well for you in the future. After all, we love being involved in key decisions and this is a great way for management to show their staff they value their opinion.
  • Management take an interest in you outside of work. You may be into rock-climbing or rock collecting, but management support this and are keen to see you explore your interests outside of the work environment.
  • The smile test. Speak to a few of the staff currently working in the business and determine if they are happy.

Above all, make sure you know what you want from the role and the people in the business, then do your best to use research and the recruitment process to verify that the business you are looking at will satisfy your needs.


Michael Phillips is a 29-year old CPA managing a business full of Gen-Ys. He’s the Commercial Manager of Cremorne Group which wholesales and retail mens and womens apparel, including the Tommy Hilfiger, Blazer and Perri Cutten brands. He offers his experience as a pioneering Gen-Y managing Gen-Ys, covering issues such as how to recruit, retain and get the most out of Gen-Y – the notoriously difficult younger generation of employees aged 15 to 30.

 For more Managing Gen-Y blogs, click here.



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