Millennial job seekers have a lot going for them: they are ambitious, tech-savvy, socially connected, and university-educated. Yet, as I’m sure you are aware, millennials have many negative stereotypes to contend with. Employers sometimes unfairly judge the “Facebook Generation” as a cohort of entitled, insubordinate job-hoppers. It’s up to you to rise above the stereotypes.
When I was promoted to an executive recruiting role in my twenties, I learned that the best way to overcome stereotypes was, simply, to pursue excellence in my work. Ultimately, my actions – not my generation – mattered most.
To showcase your talents and preempt snap judgments, avoid these five common pitfalls for millennial job seekers.
You live up to the stereotypes.
Do some self-assessment, and be honest about your abilities. Are your career expectations realistic, or do you feel entitled to a position for which you’re not yet qualified? Are you respectful of those with more experience than you, or not? Are you open to constructive criticism, or in need of constant, undeserved validation? Emotional maturity, humility, and a real desire to learn are priceless. Millennials who nurture these qualities – without losing the ambition, confidence, and resourcefulness that define them – will outpace their peers.
You rely too heavily on the Internet.
Don’t underestimate the power of face-to-face networking. While your stellar social media know-how may be great for identifying opportunities, it’s usually a personal connection that gets you the job. Put yourself out there! Networking events, alumni associations, and industry conferences are invaluable opportunities to make individual, face-to-face connections and hone social skills.
Your resume is lackluster.
I’ve seen it over and over again: millennials’ resumes are limited to descriptions of former roles. Tailor your application to the job posting, and highlight relevant accomplishments. Emphasize the impact you made in your former role, and show employers how you can contribute in a new one. A good resume offers a narrative of your professional development, in which the job you want is a believable next step. Your resume shouldn’t just tell employers that you want a job; it should show them that you are great fit for their particular job.
You prepare poorly for interviews.
It’s usually pretty obvious from the job description what kinds of questions an employer will ask you at the interview. Make sure you anticipate those questions and prepare honest, thoughtful, and articulate answers. Dress for the job you want, be punctual, and thank the interviewer for his or her time. You only get one chance to make a first impression.
Your social media presence is unbecoming.
If you can characterize your profile picture as “hilarious,” it is probably going to cost you a job. It’s time to clean up your online persona. Remember: since its very inception, the internet has been a place where you can present the best version of yourself. So take down those spring break pictures, erase those embarrassing status updates, and adjust your privacy controls. Spend some time building a standout LinkedIn profile. Writing a blog is a great way to showcase your communication skills and give employers a sense of who you are.
For many millennials, the job search requires more patience, persistence, and resiliency than has ever been demanded of them before. With these strategies, you’ll exceed expectations and achieve your goals.
Are you a millennial in the workforce? What challenges have you faced when looking for a new job, and how have you overcome them?
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