What Your Older Co-Workers and Boss Think of You (and How to Overcome It)
Today's guest post is from Kathryn Marion, author of Grads: Take Charge of Your First Year After College!
Congratulations on graduating from the final playpen…oh, I mean, college. Now it’s time to navigate your way through that place called ‘the real world.’ For those of you who’ve just spent four (maybe more) years living and interacting with hundreds or thousands of your peers, it can be a real shocker to enter a work world that’s dominated by Boomers and Gen Xers. They’re a different breed of animal and take some getting used to, especially since you’ll walk in the door with a lot of labels on your head.
In case you’ve been hiding out at the laundromat too long, here’s what these older generations think of you Gen Yers, otherwise known as Millennials:
- You have a sense of entitlement and expect to quickly move up through the ranks in responsibility and pay without first gaining the experience necessary to qualify for them;
- Your written and oral communications skills are sorely lacking, which makes normal business activities inefficient and ineffective;
- You require constant (even daily) feedback about your performance rather than waiting until you’ve reached a significant milestone;
- You shy away from (or worse, refuse to perform) work that is not personally appealing to you, even if it’s important to the company.
There are more, but you get the picture. So how are you supposed to be taken seriously in the workplace and, at the same time, spend your days doing something that’s fulfilling? In this job market, it’s tougher than ever since you’ll be competing with older candidates—candidates who automatically relate easily to their own generation plus have work experience under their belts already. Here are some things to keep in mind as you prepare to enter the lion’s den:
- Realize that relevant experience is the most valuable commodity in the job market today. To be competitive and to qualify for pay raises and promotions, you need to get that experience any way you can—through internships, returnships, volunteering, or even your own business. Once you’ve landed a job, you need to continue to learn, polish your technical and communications skills, and keep adding value to the company. If you don’t you could be out on the market again quickly because there are plenty of qualified (and older) candidates ready to take your place.
- Sit down with your boss to lay out milestones and goals, both short and long term, to give you appropriate direction and something to focus on. If you need daily pats on the back, keep track of each step you take toward the goals and pat your own back as you accomplish each one or create a support group among your peers to help the time pass more quickly before your next performance review. Be sure to have that list of accomplishments ready to back up your request for a pay raise, come review time.
- Understand that, like life, even the job of your dreams is going to come with some pimples. The Millennial who graciously accepts the less-appealing tasks of their job will be the one most likely to get the more appealing tasks later on. Whining about a temporary, unappealing assignment will only serve to hurt you later. And don’t think that jumping to another job will change things—it’s bound to happen at that job, too, and after a few short stints like that, you’ll be pretty unmarketable material in the eyes of older hiring managers.
- Most importantly, give yourself the best chance of being happy in your job by: doing your research before even applying, asking a lot of questions during the interview to get a good feel for how things work at the company, and not accepting a job based on salary or desperation—wait for the right fit for you.
You owe it to yourself, your future, and your generation to try to understand the differences between the various age groups that come together in most companies. For the time being, these differences are here to stay, so take the time to find your own way of fitting in without losing your unique identity.
When not tweeting tips about career, money, and life to help grads navigate the ‘real world’ after graduation, Kathryn Marion is the author of the QwikSmarts™ Take Charge™ book series (including Grads: Take Charge of Your First Year After College!), publisher of the series, The Smartest Thing I Ever Did…™, and speaker to students and parents about the transition from campus to real life. Follow Kathryn’s tips at @Tips4Grads or www.QwikSmarts.com.