young interviewAnyone who’s been stereotyped knows that it is not only unfair, but it also means you’re probably paying the consequences for someone else’s action. Millennials are a prime example. If you’re a Millennial, be concerned about a recent survey conducted by online career network Beyond.com.

It compares perceptions between young job seekers and the human resource professionals that screen them as potential employees. The research reveals that self-perception, true or not, can be of little advantage when being interviewed. And for Millennials, there is a lot of negative to overcome. Here are some highlights of the survey:

  • 66 percent of Millennials see themselves as team players versus 22 percent of HR professionals.
  • 65 percent of Millennials see themselves as having good communication skills versus 14 percent of HR professionals.
  • 83 percent of Millennials view themselves as being loyal to an employer versus one percent of HR professionals. This isn’t a typo: one percent.

If you’re a Millennial walking into an interview, the HR professional has a view that makes you a flawed candidate. When I give my “How to Have the Ad Career You’re Meant to Have” talk to students, I tell them what an interview is not. It is not a formality. It is not an opportunity to offer a job. It is not a sales pitch to get you to want the job. An interview is the “why-should-we-not-hire-this-person” meeting.

The fact is Millennials are just like every other group. Each person is an individual and a blanket representation is something that can be overcome. Here’s how Millennials can overcome this group stereotype:

  1. Demonstrate traits that defuse the stereotype. Those stereotypical traits include a sense of entitlement, a lack of social skills and a lack of work ethic. If you describe yourself in ways that show you are the opposite of those traits, you’ll stand out even more from the competition.
  2. Pretend it’s true. Realize you may have some of these negative traits. Have a conversation with someone older who knows you. Ask them to give a brutally honest assessment of you in regard to the stereotype. If they say you do display some of these weaknesses, make an effort to improve.
  3. Focus on the strengths of Millennials. Millennials are sincerely interested in making the world a better place and being a responsible citizen in it. Millennials respect the opinion of the older generation. Millennials respond well to guidance, structure, mentoring and supervision. Communicate to your potential employer your desire to be an asset to them by putting these strengths to work.
  4. Be true to yourself. Many times we behave the way our peers do for no other reason than to belong. I once interviewed a young woman who answered the question, “What did you not like about your last job?” with this response:

We worked really long hours, which I didn’t mind at all. But afterwards, you were expected to go out with the gang and party. I knew I couldn’t do my best at work with almost no sleep so I passed most of the time. My peers criticized me a lot for that and made me feel like I wasn’t a team player, when all I wanted to do was my best.

After that answer I knew she didn’t fit the stereotype.

If you’re a Millennial, don’t let the stereotype keep you from getting the job you’re meant to have. Realize that success is earned and though it may seem to come easily to some, that is seldom — if ever, the case. So take the good of being a Millennial and kick the bad to the curb. Most of it is simply a lack of experience and maturity. That’s fine when you’re in school. Now that you’re out, show people you’re a professional.

Originally published Jul 3, 2013 1:00:52 AM, updated July 28 2017

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Recruiting Tips