Lazy. Entitled. Narcissistic. Impatient.
If you were born any time between 1981 and 1999, you’re often considered a millennial. You’ve probably heard Gen Xers or Baby Boomers berate your generation on more than one occasion. These preceding generations firmly believe that there is something seriously wrong with millennials, just as every generation has thought of the one to follow them. This can hit you where it hurts when you’re looking for work, as many hiring managers may struggle to understand the millennial mindset.
Want the job? Start busting these millennial workplace myths.
Myth #1: Millennials don’t like to work hard.
BUST IT! Listen, study after study shows that millennials are extremely hard workers. Most of us are actually total workaholics! A startling percentage of us are work martyrs (and they’re mad because we’re killing vacation too). You know you work hard. I know you work hard. The best way to dispel this myth is to do what you were going to do anyways: kill it at the office. Make it clear in your interview that your work ethic is something you pride yourself. Once you get the job, prove it by showing up on time and giving 100%. You’ll quickly pull the rug out from under this myth.
Myth #2: Millennials need constant praise and attention.
BUST IT! The reality is that millennials don’t need constant praise. Rather, you just want some kind of evaluation of your work. You want to feel as though your work is valued and meaningful, and you know the best way to improve is through constructive feedback. Without it, you have no idea whether you’re contributing anything of value to the company. During your interview, express that continuous improvement is important to you so that you can grow professionally. Tell them that the best way for you to advance is through regular (be it once a week, once a month, or once a quarter) meetings with your supervisor to check in and see how you’re progressing. In doing so, you’ll show the hiring manager that it’s not an endless stream of compliments that you want – it’s the opportunity to nurture your career and better yourself.
Myth #3: Millennials can’t handle the real world. They need their hand held every step of the way.
BUST IT! The idea that millennials need companies to work as a corporate babysitter is simply not true. Millennials, like all other generations, don’t want to be micromanaged. There is a stark difference between “hand-holding” and having clearly-defined objectives and priorities. Millennials crave the latter, as does everyone else. As a jobhunter, you can make this myth crumble by emphasizing accomplishments where you took initiative in the past both on your resume and in your interview. Talk about how you identified a problem in your professional life, what you did to fix it, and the impact it had. Being an independent, proven problem-solver will shatter the façade of millennials needing coattails to ride. At the same time, it will flaunt your potential value to potential employers.
Myth #4: Millennials won’t stick around. They’re constantly job-hopping!
BUST IT! First of all, millennials actually are less likely to change jobs than the generation that came before them. The truth is that we want a stable, predictable job more than anything. Growing up during the Great Recession, when more than 8.7 million jobs were lost in less than 3 years, heightened the millennial desire for steady work. How do you bust the myth of the disloyal millennial when you’re looking for work? Before your interview, do some digging and see if you can find some of the company’s long-term goals. Poke around their “About Us” page for a mission statement or send a LinkedIn message to a current employee at the company. Figure out how your long-term goals could fall in line with theirs. During the interview, when the inevitable “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” question pops up, you’ll have a reply that both showcases your company fit and soothes the hiring manager’s fear that you’ll be jumping ship as soon as the next opportunity comes along.
Myth #5: Millennials are addicted to technology.
BUST IT! We aren’t addicted to tech. We’re fluent in it – a big difference. The majority of millennials are most comfortable communicating with technology, especially in the workplace. This is not because millennials are ADD-riddled slackers, but because it’s one of the most efficient ways to interact. Instead of attending a meeting that drags on or having to get up and go to someone’s desk to get an answer, you can just shoot them an email or a Skype message, get what you need, and continue with your work. Employers should understand that having digital natives on their side is an advantage (not a liability). Millennials are able to adapt more easily to an ever-shifting technological landscape. If you’re worried a potential employer doesn’t see the value of technophiles, highlight the benefits a tech-savvy worker in your interview. Talk about how you use technology in the workplace to improve your productivity and you’ll crush the myth of the social media-distracted millennial worker.
These millennial stereotypes may not be fair, but they are firmly held by a lot of employers. The best way to stop getting pigeonholed as a “lazy millennial” is to show employers that you are a valuable asset. While they may not see it this way, big corporations need millennials a lot more than millennials need big corporations. Without the fresh insight that you can provide, the titans of industry will be left in the dust.