Guest Post by Rose Ernst, Genesis10
As a member of the millennial generation, you will be part of the largest generation ever to enter the workforce. By sheer number alone (90 million), you and your peers have the power to influence a major shift in the way we all work. While each generation has held its own attitudes toward work, your generation may well be the best educated, most technologically savvy professionals to enter the workforce.
It’s not always easy, though, to land that first job right out of college. Like generations before you, some employers subscribe to myths about the millennial generation that would imply they’re not the best fit for the growing number of jobs available.
My day-to-day work focuses on connecting corporate clients and millennial workers, so I’ve had the opportunity to collect insights from real-world, hands-on employment situations and identify the top five myths a millennial needs to overcome in order to get their first job:
Five Millennial Myths In The Workplace
Millennials are the “Selfie” generation
The typical Millennial worker is not “all about me.” They want to be associated with a company brand that represents positive social values and be able to give back through their work.
Detailing your volunteer experiences and extracurricular activities that reflect your values on your resume and LinkedIn profile. Be prepared to discuss how your experiences and pursuits beyond office life help shape your professional presence. Include a character reference from a representative from one group you support who can speak to your conduct and approach to situations similar to the job for which you are interviewing. Do your homework on the company brand.
Millennials are glued to their smartphones
Millennials are Digital Natives who apply technology to everything they do. This comfort with automated tools gives them a natural ability to adopt new technology -systems software and tech skills – quickly.
Listing the various digital media/software you are experienced with, including certifications, on your resume, even if the job you’re applying for is not technical. Then share a few examples of how you have embraced technology to help you be more effective, whether at college or in a summer job. If you can share an example of helping others grow more comfortable with and embrace digital tools, even better!
Millennials are ‘loyal-lite’; they don’t plan to stay long at any employer.
Overall Millennials are just as loyal as other generations. Employers should expect turnover in any generation.
Including past experiences/organizational relationships that have lasted longer than a year, even if the experience isn’t related to the job you’re seeking (such as volunteering at the same charity multiple years in a row) is a great add to a resume. If you’re asked to detail your working experiences from shorter-tenured jobs, particularly if it’s the job you’re leaving, be ready with a neutral explanation of the short duration. Taking a job to get going on paying your college loans is pragmatic. Taking a contract position that wasn’t extended happens. If you’re changing direction on your career, have a well-thought through reasoning for the move. Avoid negative feedback about a current or former employer or cite an unpleasant incident that drove your departure. This often backfires as a red flag about you for recruiters and employers.
Millennials Need Constant Reassurance and Direction
Millennials are fueled by feedback and evaluation keeps them engaged and growing.
Examples from past work where feedback from a colleague or supervisor helped steer your work to qualities that exceeded expectations. Point out how mentoring relationships have helped you grow your professional skills to your employer’s benefit. Ask questions about reporting relationships and feedback structures in place to better understand what to expect in terms of evaluations and feedback. When the interview is over, demonstrate that you can be patient and give it at least a week before pursuing feedback. Then, craft a well-worded follow up that does not sound ‘needy’.
Millennials Bring Disruptive Change
Millennials are The New Intra-Preneurs, challenging traditional work models. Contrary to portrayal, most Millennials are respectful to senior staff and supervisors and comply with company polices while being effective change agents.
Highlight positive change that you were a part of and the outcomes achieved. Also highlight work-related skills you mastered in previous jobs to show that you are willing to change to fit, as well as listing challenges you read in the job description that intrigued you enough to submit your resume in the first place. Help the recruiter see how your desire to be part of building something new as a skill the company can leverage to its own benefit. Also highlight any professional association memberships as examples of how you invest your personal time to help you perform more effectively as a professional.
Every generation of professionals has their own set of myths to overcome about their work ethic, approach to challenges, even how they integrate personal and professional lives. You may not encounter every single myth when you interview, but preparing for and addressing those myths that come up will ensure you are not hurt by these common preconceived notions and give you a better chance of being hired.
About the author
Rose Ernst brings more than 20 years of consulting services experience to her role as national director of the G10 Associates program at Genesis10, focusing on the selection, training and placement of millennial workers. Rose is an advocate and advisor to companies seeking next-generation workforce planning, implementation and ongoing support. Rose also co-authored the book, “Hiring Millennials: The Generation the Changes Everything.”