No matter your age, you've probably thought about how your gray hair or your baby face affects your job search. Experienced job seekers worry about age discrimination because they believe hiring managers think they're too old. Younger job seekers complain that their accomplishments don't get the attention and respect they deserve and that people don't value their skills due to their relatively few years of experience.
Can we learn anything from members of different generations when it comes to job search? Consider the following things Millennials, also known as Gen-Y (born between the late 1970s and early 2000s), do that all job seekers should:
1. They use social networking to connect and extend their network. While some criticize Gen-Y for sacrificing in-person conversations and preferring to communicate via text and Facebook, everyone could learn something from this generation's ability to extend their networks via online and technical tools. Don't underestimate the importance of your digital footprint—what people can find out about you online. Jobvite's research indicates 92 percent of companies in the United States use social networks and media to find talent this year. That's up from 78 percent five years ago. When you're technologically savvy, it is easier to tap into this network.
2. They collaborate. Gen-Y is known for their interest in interaction, collaboration, and connectivity. Other generations can benefit by embracing the interconnectedness that extends networking beyond lip service to actual engagement.
3. They demonstrate flexibility and multi-task effectively. Most people would agree that Millennials are some of the most agile workers. They're known to be able to manage several projects simultaneously and to easily shift from one thing to the next with ease. While you may not want to work on four projects at once, you can try to be less set in your ways. Hiring managers value flexibility, and if you can demonstrate this skill, you'll be more competitive for positions.
4. They're creative and innovative. In a recent Forbes article, writer Jenna Goudreau quoted Amy Lynch, co-author of The M-Factor: How the Millennial Generation is Rocking the Workplace, as saying, "Millennials are not locked into limited, linear patterns of thinking about industry issues or challenges." And Goudreau notes: "Young employees construct solutions the way the web works, using creative networks and associations. In today's knowledge economy, the ability to innovate will have hiring managers salivating."
Many employers appreciate Gen Y's can-do attitude and their ability to find ways to get the work done, even when the task appeared impossible.
5. They seek more than just a paycheck. Goudreau's article also quotes Paul Alofs, author of Passion Capital, when he said, "An employee's passion is the company's best resource. When people's jobs are aligned with what they care about, they put in the extra effort, and it flows straight to the bottom line." Many authors have pointed out that Millennials have a tendency to choose meaning and personal passions over money when it comes to their career choices. It may be more difficult for older workers with more external responsibilities to make choices this way, but consider how this mind set may help you make the best career decisions possible.
6. They get experience where they can. Gen-Yers actively participate in internships, volunteer work, and online learning, plus they embrace leadership opportunities large and small. If you're having a hard time landing a job, think about what you might be able to do to add the experiences and skills you need to your career materials.
7. They move on. Dan Schawbel, managing partner of Millennial Branding, notes that his company's studies show Millennials leave their corporations at the two-year mark. He says, "In comparison, Gen-X stays about five years and Baby Boomers stay about seven years at a company before leaving." While pundits pin this tendency to a lack of loyalty on the part of Gen-Y workers, there's another angle to this often-cited statistic. How many experienced workers stay in their jobs beyond the time when they're learning, growing, and enjoying the jobs?
Consider how moving to another opportunity may inspire you to maintain and leverage your network, keep your skills sharp, and maintain your interest in what you're doing at work.
8. They consider owning a business. Millennial Branding's and Beyond.com's Multigenerational Job Search survey found that the number of people between ages 18 and 29 who are in the process of setting up their own companies has increased by 50 percent in the last year alone. In the future, more professionals will need to market themselves as independent contractors or business owners. Gen-X and Baby Boomers should begin to think about how they can succeed as entrepreneurs in the new economy.
Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer, and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to empower their success.