Experts offer tips for millennials about to enter workplace

January 13, 2013

According to a study by the Career Advisory Board, as a result of the downturn of the last few years, millennials (ages 21 to 31 years) “have adopted a more realistic attitude about their careers and are taking practical steps towards their professional advancement.” However, the views hiring managers hold of millennials have not caught up, as many hiring managers still believe in the “millennial stereotypes,” including that they expect “unreasonably high pay in return for minimal effort.”

With the pending retirement of approximately 80 million Baby Boomers and the relatively small number of GenXers, the millennials are not only expected to enter, and move up, in the work force at an ever-increasing pace but they also face obstacles not encountered by prior generations. With that in mind, I have sought career advice for the millennials.

Despite the fact that there will be ample need for millennials in the workplace as Baby Boomers retire, millennials are facing intense competition from older, experienced workers for even entry level positions. This is because of the poor economy of the past few years.

As a result, Deborah Hankin, head of talent management, for marketing firm G2 USA, advises millennials in the job market to overcome their lack of corporate experience by framing their previous work experience in a way that illustrates their strengths and shows they are right for the job.

“If an applicant’s résumé shows that he or she was a lifeguard or babysitter or waiter, but doesn’t show previous experience in the specific industry, the applicant can frame his or her experience to be relevant. For example, as a lifeguard, saving people — while important — wasn’t necessarily the most relevant or important experience if the applicant is seeking a job as in finance. However, being able to make quick decisions and be responsible are relevant skills that translate well.”

The millennials’ greatest strength, their comfort with technology, often becomes a weakness in terms of how they interact in the workplace.

Dan Black, director of campus recruiting at accounting firm Ernst & Young, notes, “It’s amazing to me how many students still can’t express themselves effectively when they are live and in person with another human being. And technology hasn’t helped the situation — just about every outlet that students use daily (text messaging, instant messaging, blogs, vlogs, wikis) can involve abbreviations, poor grammar, and a focus on communicating as quickly as possible without the slightest regard for the English language.”

Invest time, he advises, in developing oral and written communication skills. “They are core to all fields and degrees and you can’t be successful without them.”

To read the full article by Lee Miller, visit nj.com