02/24/2016 Molly Moseley

Millennial lessons from the open letter to Yelp’s CEO

shutterstock_301974959Open letters are the modern op-ed, and while those written by celebrities and politicians sometimes get a lot of traction, many simply fade into the online abyss.

That fate, however, was not the case for 25-year-old Talia Jane over the weekend.

Her post titled “An Open Letter to My CEO” went viral. In her letter she explains many problems experienced by entry-level employees of Yelp/Eat24. She claims she’s underpaid, overworked and utterly stressed.

A lot of people have weighed in after reading her post. While some offer words of understanding, others feel as though she’s acting like a “stereotypical millennial.” Personally, I think she brought up some valid concerns, but the way she communicated them was not productive and unprofessional. Here are some of her main points:

  • She hasn’t been able to afford groceries since starting at Yelp and basically subsists on a 10-lb bag of rice she bought prior to starting.
  • Complimentary snacks are stocked only on weekdays and therefore not always available when working weekends.
  • Great insurance she doesn’t pay for, except a $20 co-pay that she can’t afford.
  • 80 percent of her income goes toward renting an apartment that is far away.
  • She has to work in customer service for an entire year before she’ll be considered for an opening in another department.

The list goes on, of course, and it’s no surprise that people are throwing around terms like “entitled” and “spoiled millennial.” Bottom line: If her concerns were presented to the correct parties in a respectful, intelligent manner, she may not have gotten fired.

So what can other millennials learn from Talia’s letter?

First, this is a great lesson about what you should consider before taking a job. I get it, though — after working hard to get a degree, you’re chomping at the bit to start your career. Thoughtful job search is critical to ensure each decision you make helps you grow. Here are a few basic yet extremely important questions to ask yourself:

  1. Does the salary cover your basic expenses?
  2. How long is your commute and what will it cost?
  3. What company policies exist regarding advancement?
  4. What hours are you expected to work?
  5. What career-development opportunities are available?
  6. What benefits are available and what do they cost?
  7. Does the company’s culture align with your personality?

If Talia had asked these questions and deeply considered each answer, she may not have ended up feeling “the bitter remorse of accepting a job that can’t pay a living wage.” See, you have to think through each decision you make and do what’s best for you and your career. After all, no one wants to end up unemployed with a bad reputation, much like the woman who wrote a public essay complaining to her CEO.

Finally, this is a lesson for us all to reign in those emotions before writing a letter to any manager, let alone a member of the C-suite. Emotional intelligence is an in-demand soft skill, and this letter demonstrates that Talia has some work to do in that department. It’s not that she should have remained silent, necessarily, but she should have found a better way to channel and voice her concerns.

In a follow up-letter she published on Medium yesterday she has reported that “Things have been pretty chaotic for me since last Friday when I wrote that open letter and “Some people have even offered me a job or donated money to me .” Hopefully as she considers her new job prospects, she’ll ask herself some of these important questions and hone her emotional IQ.

What’s your opinion on this much talked about letter? Please share your thoughts.

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