I have a lot of friends who do the hiring for their respective companies, and I’ve used them as resources when thinking about blog topics. In the past I’ve asked them for information on what they like to see on resumes, what they like to see in cover letters and what qualities they look for in potential job candidates.
But today I’m going to talk about something they hate: millennial disconnect.
The number one complaint I’ve heard from friends and colleagues in hiring positions has to do with what they deem to be poor social skills of the 20-something during an interview. While they’ve all agreed the resume of the millennial is usually top-notch, the interpersonal connection is lacking at best.
Being right on the border of the millennial generation myself, I unfortunately know what they are talking about. Us millennials are connected—extremely connected, in fact—but not to reality. We live in an online world. We connect using social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. We can talk to people we work with through email without ever having a face-to-face conversation with them. We don’t even ever have to speak to our friends or relatives anymore with the invention of text messages.
This translates to interviews. My brother-in-law, Rob, does the hiring for a technology company in Chicago. He said there have been several times he’s interviewed an applicant who has an incredible resume and, based on credentials, could really excel at Rob’s company. When he interviews these candidates, however, he said they cannot hold a basic conversation. He said he found they could talk all day long about the technical aspects of the job, but couldn’t answer questions like “What do you do for fun outside of work?” or “How would you handle a situation when one of our clients is unhappy with your performance.” Because the job requires customer service, Rob’s had to turn down a lot of candidates who are highly qualified on paper.
In this CNBC article titled “Why millennials have a tough time landing jobs,” Kip Wright, a senior vice president with ManpowerGroup staffing company said Millennials have been technology enabled from the minute they were able to crawl, so they have a different way of connecting and a different way of engaging, and as they struggle with a traditional interview.
In dentistry, it is extremely important to show you have the interpersonal skills necessary to do your job when you’re being interviewed by a potential boss. While jobs in the dental profession require a lot of mechanical skill, they also require a lot of customer service, as your job is literally working on your client’s body. I cannot think of another profession, other than similar medical professions, where customer service is as important.
This CNN article “How to beat the millennial stereotype” points out something else that can be against millennial job hopefuls: the millennial reputation of having an inflated ego. CNN’ Chief Business Correspondant Christine Romans writes that hiring managers assume the millennial generation is straight out of a “Girls” episode. “If you watch, you’ve seen one character, Shoshanna, spend the better part of the season crashing and burning in job interviews,” she writes. “Millennials have a reputation for having exaggerated self-worth, an aversion to hard work, and parents who gave them too much and expected too little (Google the phrase “Millennials at work” and you’ll see what I mean).”
Romans outlines six tips for millennials in the quest to beat that reputation and land a job.
1. Be aware of the stereotype and take special care not to reinforce it.
2. Don’t begin the interview by asking how quickly you will make manager.
3. Clean up your social profile.
4. Make sure you’re not skipping student loan payments (Romans writes that many employers run credit checks on their candidates.)
5. Ditch the fancy business words.
6. Know the company.
I have to be honest, I’ve had a really difficult time breaking the stereotype myself. Often times, my husband, who teeters on the boarder of Generation X, has to tell me when it’s time to put down the phone or to stop looking at my Facebook, and he sometimes asks why I text my friends all day long. I have resigned myself to the fact that it’s just ingrained in me now. But the thing is, it shouldn’t show through in an interview. When talking to people who have the power over your hiring, you have to 100 percent connect with them.
Something my husband and I do before interviews to ensure we’re ready to connect is enlist the other to be a mock interviewer. A few months ago I was looking for a job, and Jim would pretend to be an editor and ask me all kinds of questions, both professional and personal, to make sure I was ready to answer whatever was asked of me during the real interview. We all know the importance of a first impression, so when going into your next interview, no matter which generation your a part of, remember the importance of an old fashioned connection—one that isn’t Internet related.