Job Search Tip of the Week #37 (2018)


How to Make it as a Millennial

…and Show Everyone They’re Wrong about Gen-Y and Gen-Z Workers!

How would you describe Millennials?

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) asked that of the respondents of their behavior and attitude survey. Unsurprisingly, they found that Millennials generally perceived themselves in a more favorable manner than non-Millennials, who often referred to the former as “lazy,” “spoiled,” and “entitled.” (Survey responses depicted in visualization at right.).

Stereotypes such as these contribute to the double-digit unemployment rate of Millennials, which is consistently twice the national average. It’s important for Millennials entering the job market to be aware of the cynical attitudes many hold towards their generation and learn how to change them. Here are the 3 most common negative perceptions employers have of Gen Y and Gen Z’ers and how you can prove them wrong:

Note: You don’t have to be a Millennial to follow this advice! Whether you’re looking to make a career transition, re-enter the workforce, or build your résumé, these tips can work for you.

Millennials are entitled.

We were all told growing up that a college education meant a good job. But Millennials have to realize the reality that a college degree doesn’t guarantee excellent employment opportunities. In fact, a recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that approximately 44% of employed recent grads are working in jobs that don’t require a college degree.

Why aren’t Millennials putting their degrees to good use? Many get caught in the catch-22 of today’s “entry-level” job market: Many employers won’t hire them unless they have “relevant real-world experience,” but in order to obtain said experience, they need to be hired first.

Internships are a great way to get the experience that employers are looking for. It goes without saying that the ones that will most benefit your future job search are those that provide you the opportunities to acquire skills and experience relevant to your overall career goals. They serve as stepping stone to explore career changes and also often segue into full-time employment.

Not many work opportunities available (common complaint in a small town, which lacks the options of a big city like Boston) or too much competition for the same jobs (a problem that tends to happen when an entire student body’s encouraged to use the same internship database)? Think outside the box. For example, many small businesses and non-profit organizations desperately need technical skills like web design and development, data visualization, video production, and social media. Volunteer to build them a website or mobile app! Such skills-based volunteering allows you to gain relevant experience, build your résumé, obtain professional references, and expand your network, all the while perhaps supporting a cause or business vision you’re passionate about. Not to mention, making your own internship or making one your own shows initiative, and employers want to see that you’re willing to go the extra mile and a step beyond the expected responsibilities.

Remember: You often have to start at the bottom of the ladder and work your way up. It may be tempting to take a job simply because it’s paid or seems to be more fun for now, but if you’re serious about gaining relevant experience, make sure you’re making decisions relevant to your career path.

And don’t be one of those people who tell the interviewer that they applied for a mobile developer position because they’ve thought of building a similar application, or for a technical sales job because they wanted to make some money and learn from an entrepreneur so they could get their own businesses off the ground. Obviously, you should be honest. But if your responses to “Why do you want to work for us?” isn’t consistent with the job description and company vision, you shouldn’t have applied or interviewed in the first place, and probably won’t get a job offer.

Millennials are spoiled.

In the age of the Netflix’s and the Amazon Prime’s, we’ve grown accustomed to instant gratification. Why wait if you can get it now from somewhere else? It appears that mentality has led to high expectations in many facets of our lives, including the workplace. Why wait for a raise if you can get a higher salary offer elsewhere? Or work hard for a promotion if you can start at a higher-level position at a different company?

Employers appear wary of hiring Millennials due to the high costs incurred when they job hop. Although a behavior not exclusive to Gen Y or Z, it has become an associated characteristic. While the belief may have some basis (the average 25-year-old has already worked 6.3 jobs between the ages of 18 and 25!), studies suggest that many Millennials leave for reasons besides money, such as a bad cultural fit or a misalignment between their career goals and their employers’.

There are lots of things you can do to prevent “job hopper” from making it on your résumé. For instance:

  • Before you accept a job, conduct thorough research and make sure there is a cultural and professional fit.
  • If you’re already employed, get down to the nitty-gritty and define the real reason why you want to leave. Does it actually warrant your departure, or is there something that can be done (e.g., career development opportunities, further training, a pay raise or change to your benefits, a departmental switch) to improve your work situation?
  • If you feel it’s time to leave because you’re bored, first consider taking on additional responsibilities or attaining a new role within the organization.
  • Career progression is often based on performance, so ask for continuous feedback: How am I doing? Where can I improve? What can someone in my position do to advance here?

Millennials are lazy.

Don’t expect to get a job just because you’re tech-savvy or know how to text and Tweet with your eyes closed. Particularly if you’re a Gen Y or Gen Z’er, employers already expect those skills of you. So what can you do to stand out and make a good impression?

Perhaps the most obvious advice – but to our dismay, sometimes not so obvious – is to cover your application and interview basics. Do research on the industry and company, customize your technical résumé and cover letter, prepare and practice your responses to common interview questions, show up on time, dress professionally, shake hands firmly, ask thought-provoking questions, follow-up with thank-you notes…you’d be surprised at how many people don’t understand the big impact these “small” things can have. As a recent grad you already have so many other things going against you going into an interview – number one being entry-level – that it’d be just be silly to have a lack of preparation be the reason why you didn’t get a call-back.

Also, whether you’re in the interview or in the workplace, admit when you don’t know something – and learn from experience. There’s always a way you can grow, so ask specific questions, work with a mentor, and consult industry experts.

And when you do get the job, continue to work hard: It’s important for your career development and advancement to make your potential and contributions known outside of the office. Joining IT networking groups and social sites, attending conferences, creating a job or industry-relevant blog, or working on development side projects that can benefit your company or contribute to the tech community are ways you can stand out as a passionate and knowledgeable individual who’d make a viable candidate down the road.

Blogging Forward,

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Image Credit: “The Millennial Consumer: Debunking Stereotypes” Report by BCG