Business + Publicity

How to Flip the Script on Millennial Labels

August 28, 2017

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This article originally appeared in Emily’s column, Own It.

If you’re a millennial, then you’re probably tired of fighting all the negative stereotypes about who you are, what your work ethic is like, and what you’re capable of accomplishing.

I would know, because I’m a millennial too.

It wasn’t that long ago I was fresh out of college and fighting the common millennial stereotypes myself. More than a decade later, I have a small business and have hired my fair share of younger millennials.

When you are young and first entering the workforce, you may find that some employers have negative perceptions of your generation. Worse yet, you don’t have the experience or skills yet that can prove them wrong.

Implement these strategies to show employers you’re anything but the “typical” millennial.

Establish Your Personal Brand and Wear It Confidently

I weed through dozens of resumes and cover letters every few months from eager college students or new graduates, hopeful to land a position. The ones that really grab my attention have a consistent brand–from their cover letters to their Instagram feeds (yes, I do check social media accounts before inviting someone to interview, fyi).

When you know who you are, what you bring to the table, and how to turn those things into marketable traits, employers will notice. You were brought up in the digital age; use those skills to make an impact. Your social media accounts should reflect your personal and professional brand.

Go beyond a traditional resume and link to a professional website or blog. If you can make it something worth noticing, employers will have more faith in your ability to improve their brands, too.

Grow a Thick Skin

This is one of the most popular millennial shortcomings. We are the generation of participation ribbons and gold stars. Prove the naysayers wrong. Show your boss and colleagues that you are not only open to constructive criticism, but that you welcome the opportunity to improve.

Regularly ask for feedback and make sure to implement the advice.

The ability to graciously accept criticism is a skill set even some of the most experienced business people haven’t been able to develop. This skill alone will give you a greater sense of maturity and put you ahead of the rest.

Network Beyond Social Media

Old-school networking (we’re talking pre-social media) is an underrated tool for many millennials. It certainly pays off to be tech-savvy these days, but it’s essential that you don’t lose sight of the original form of networking: face-to-face.

Show the seasoned pros that you are here to stay by being a familiar face at industry events like conferences or even the office happy hour.

At any networking event, remember to be poised, professional, and engaging. Research has shown that first impressions are extremely difficult to change once they have been made, which means that you will need to bring your A-game if you want to build meaningful connections.

Learn to Write Professional Emails

As a millennial, you may be more tech-savvy than those of previous generations, but this can also be a shortcoming. While you may be more comfortable communicating with the latest social media platforms, chances are, you probably aren’t as skilled at business emails.

Small things like properly addressing a recipient, having an appropriate sign-off and not misusing “reply all” are vital. If you haven’t worked in a professional setting before, read everything you can on the topic of writing business emails.

Nothing says “I copied and pasted this email” like having the introduction font not match the body of your email.

When in doubt, send yourself a test email. Look it over and proofread it–then proofread it again. You’ll easily set yourself apart with solid email communication.

Be the One They Can Count On

This one might seem obvious, but it’s also one of the most important tips. Whether you’re making a coffee run or taking on a new project, the amount of effort you put forth will be noticed. If you do even the most menial tasks well, you leave little room for doubt over whether you’ll work hard on something of greater significance.

When you first start out, employers and colleagues might doubt your abilities at first. Be patient and have confidence that your hard work will blow away their initial misconceptions.

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