Each generation has a stereotype. There’s the Traditionalists, the Baby Boomers, and the Generation Xers. Now, as more of the generation known as Millennials enters the workforce, stereotypes are increasingly prevalent.
You’ve probably heard the stereotypes about Millennials, or those born between approximately the years of 1980 and 2000. They’re seen as entitled, needy, self-absorbed, and privileged. They’re known as job-hoppers and “the trophy generation.” They’re famous for technology addiction.
If you’re a Millennial who doesn’t feel like part of that stereotype, you’re not alone. Research conducted by Beyond.com shows that it takes more than a feeling to shut down those stereotypes. In order to get bosses or potential employers on your side, you have to prove that you can break the Millennial mold.
Be a team player
In a national survey of Millennials and veteran HR professionals, Beyond.com uncovered striking differences in the perceptions of this generation. For example, the survey revealed that 60% of Millennials identify as team players, but only 22% of HR professionals think the generation works well on a team. In other words, recruiters think only one out of every five applicants possesses the ability to work well with others.
You can prove that you’re one of those team players by showcasing your experience working in teams and highlighting those skills in interviews or through networking. If you volunteer with local organizations, share how those experiences helped you grow. Explore your role as a team member in any school projects or previous jobs and explain how you worked well with others. If you can, collect references and letters of recommendation from people who can speak to your specific teamwork skills.
65% of surveyed Millennials believe they possess great interpersonal communication skills. However, only 14% of HR professionals agree. With such a large gap in perception, you have a significant opportunity to stand out from the crowd and break the mold.
Start by brushing up on your communications skills. Consider taking an online class in important communication practices. Join a group like Toastmasters to advance your public speaking experience. Or, read articles and books that share tips about communicating with older generations, as well as communicating through email, phone, and writing. By taking the extra step to learn these important skills, you not only become a more well-rounded employee, but also show recruiters and potential employers that you possess the initiative to grow.
If you consider yourself a hard worker, you’re not alone. 85% of surveyed Millennials identify with the trait, in contrast to only 11% of HR professionals who believe the generation works hard. To further break that number down, only one in 10 Millennial jobseekers is perceived as a hard worker by potential employers. While this may sound disheartening, it means there is room for you to stand out.
One of the easiest ways to break the Millennial mold is to simply give your best every day. Luckily, you don’t have to be an existing employee to prove your work ethic to an employer. Start before you are hired by building a network of professionals who will speak to your skills. By showing up to work on time, staying late when a job needs to be finished, or taking on extra assignments, people will notice that you’re a hard worker. And chances are, they’ll be willing to serve as a reference or write a recommendation for you in the future.
Be a leader
Even if a leadership role isn’t on your current career path, it’s important to sharpen your leadership skills if you want to stand out. Less than half of Millennials identify as leaders (40%), but even fewer (9%) of HR professionals recognize leadership potential in younger employees.
As older generations begin to retire and exit the workforce, it will be up to Millennials to fill the void. Employers recognize this and make hiring decisions accordingly. They look for new employees who show leadership potential, have skills that make them great mentors, and aren’t afraid of challenges. If you’re hoping to land a job, you need to show potential employers that you possess the leadership skills to keep their business thriving in the coming years.
Consider joining industry organizations and volunteering for leadership roles within them, like secretary or treasurer. Volunteer your time as a mentor or tutor for local schools, organize a neighborhood committee, or assemble a team of colleagues to tackle a company initiative. When you show the initiative to lead, you position yourself as an ideal candidate in a changing workforce.
Focus on loyalty
In perhaps the most striking of findings, the survey revealed that 82% of Millennials define themselves as loyal. But only 1% of HR professionals agree. Are you part of that perceived 1% of your generation who embrace workplace loyalty? If you want to stand out from the competition, you should.
Millennials are often referred to as “job hoppers,” or workers who don’t stay with an employer for long before moving to the next one. While this lack of tenure is common in early years of employment, it’s important to not make a habit of it. Be mindful of the applications you send out and jobs you accept. If you don’t think you’ll be happy at a company, or think you’ll look for another job as soon as you start, it may not be the best fit.
While you can’t always turn down a job that isn’t a great fit due to financial reasons, you can help enact positive changes in the workplace. Offer suggestions, join committees, and try to get involved. And remember to focus on the benefits of the job, like health insurance, wellness initiatives, or paid time off.
When you focus on showcasing traits that contrast popular stereotypes, you can break the Millennial mold and prove your workplace value. Remember, you can’t just tell bosses and potential supervisors that your talents are a perfect match for the job. You have to show them, too.