Ashlee, a Millennial, has an impressive academic and work record. She graduated with a 3.945 GPA while holding down three part-time jobs throughout the university.
Yet finding a job has been difficult. Despite the various paid and unpaid positions she's held, one prospective employer told her, "You don't have enough experience." Another found her experience impressive enough and offered her an internship--without pay. Others flat out said she was "too young."
Ashlee's experiencing just how leery employers are to hire Millennials. If you're a Millennial who runs into the same difficulties, below are three stereotypes that scare away managers, and how you can address them during interviews and on the job:
1. Millennials don't just need job training. They also need "how to have a job" training.
Tech-savvy Millennials are known for working smart, not hard. This can be misconstrued for laziness. They're also known to reject authority and formal structures. Managers fear that Millennials not only need to learn how to perform their jobs, but also how to have a job in the first place: follow rules, meet deadlines, and be accountable.
Mirasee project manager Nicole Girouard recalls a former co-worker saying, "It's too much work with these Millennials. They ask so many questions. We need to have them just do their assignments. I never questioned my managers!"
To Millennials: Find internship and volunteer opportunities to learn what the norms and expectations are in the workplace. If you're looking for a job, be professional in every stage of the application process. And if you've found a new job, start with the base assumption that things are done the way they are for a good reason. Look for that reason and do what everyone else is doing. If you think you have a better way to do things, speak to your manager about it--but not before you understand why things are the way they are.
2. Millennials feel entitled.
A global study commissioned by PwC found that moving up the ladder is a top priority for Millennials. And they're in a hurry to get there, giving the rest of us the impression that Millennials aren't willing to pay their dues before enjoying the perks, benefits, and authority they want. Especially when young people try to jump up the ranks by applying for managerial positions, managers feel they're not willing to work their way up.
To Millennials: During the interview, showcase situations when you worked hard and what results you got for your employer. It's OK to ask about career opportunities, but don't let that dominate the conversation. When you get the job, shift your thinking from the outcomes you want to what it will take for you to earn those outcomes. Realize that your brilliance, your gift, your experience, and your showing up don't entitle you to anything; they're table stakes.
3. Millennials have no loyalty.
Their inexperience and expectations mean they need to be invested in to do well, but their attitude is mercenary. According to The Wall Street Journal, the median job tenure of employees 20 to 24 years old was shorter than 16 months. It was longer for those 24 to 25 years old, at three years, but still much shorter than the median tenure for those 25 years and older: 5.5 years. So managers find it hard to justify investing in Millennials.
To Millennials: During interviews, substantiate the value you've provided to previous employers. Rationalize why it would be worthwhile for someone to hire you--even if you don't stay forever. On the job, apply yourself 100 percent, even if it's not your dream job. Give it your all, overdeliver, and exceed your manager's expectations. Do what you can to earn your employer's investment in you.
Stereotypes are unfair, but they exist. People will perceive Millennials as being either an example of or an exception to the stereotype. Ashlee strives to be the exception. She channels her energies to be the Millennial who's hard working, responsible, committed, and a valuable team member. I know, because I hired her.