With 85 million baby boomers and 50 million Gen Xers, there is already a yawning generation gap among American workers–particularly in their ideas of work-life balance. For baby boomers, it’s the juggling act between job and family. For Gen X, it means moving in and out of the workforce to accommodate kids and outside interests. Now along come the 76 million members of Generation Y. For these new 20-something workers, the line between work and home doesn’t really exist. They just want to spend their time in meaningful and useful ways, no matter where they are.

The first challenge for the companies that want to hire the best young workers is getting them in the door. They are in high demand–the baby boomers are retiring, and many Gen X workers are opting out of long hours–and they have high expectations for personal growth, even in entry-level jobs. More than half of Generation Y’s new graduates move back to their parents’ homes after collecting their degrees, and that cushion of support gives them the time to pick the job they really want. Taking time off to travel used to be a resume red flag; today it’s a learning experience. And entrepreneurship now functions as a safety net for this generation. They grew up on the Internet, and they know how to launch a viable online business. Facebook, for example, began in a college dorm room.

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