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Defying the Generation Y Stereotype

The ink is barely dry on your hard earned diploma, and the memories of your commencement ceremony have started to fade. For the first time, you realize you are about to jump into the “the real world.”  Hopefully armed with solid internship or work experience, you are motivated to find your first post-college job. You’ve taken your classes and done your work, so are you prepared to find your dream job?

Unfortunately, you’re in a tough market these days. As a Millennial and a recent college graduate, you face a number of negative stereotypes as you enter the work force. Growing up, you were taught to believe that you could achieve anything you put your mind to and to never settle for anything less than the best. So, after going to several interviews, you might find yourself a bit frustrated at the lack of available opportunities. You might be beginning to realize that you have to start at the bottom of the corporate totem pole, no matter what company, where it is, or who you know. You are an entry level candidate - period. 

According to a perceived-reality survey from, HR professionals from around the country hold a staggering bias against Millennials, believing them to be disloyal, lazy and incapable of leading. The good news is this perception offers you the opportunity to prove them wrong and set yourself apart from everyone else. According to Hal Bundrick, the writer of an article entitled "Six Ways to Fight the Gen Y Stereotypes That Keep You from Getting a Job," Millennials can change this misconception right from the start in the job interview.

Below are a few suggestions from Jenny Blake, author of Life After College and Lindsey Pollack, the author of Getting From College to Career to prepare yourself for the real world and wow your employer.
  • Don’t discount your digital skills. Though social media and technology may come easily to you, it doesn’t for many. And while it may not be a big deal to you, that’s exactly why your skills are important – they just come naturally to you. 
  • Use collaborative words like teamwork, contribution, dedication and commitment, rather than more individualistic words like passion, confidence or learning. Employers want to know what you will contribute to the company, not just that they can provide you with a stepping stone to your next position. 
  • Be natural and personable and ask important questions during your interview. Do your research and prepare your answers. Asking questions during your interview shows that you are truly interested in the company and have done your research.
  • Provide examples of projects that you have both initiated and seen through to completion. While many Millennials are engaged in the beginning, they often lose focus and leave a project incomplete. Show that you have the ability to follow things through. 
  • Educate yourself about professional email rules and etiquette. While LMAO and IDK might be perfect for texting or Twitter, it’s not so great for responding to your boss’ email. 
  • Communicate the specific results that you helped achieve in past positions or projects, rather than simply dictating what you did. 

The best thing you can do at this stage in your life is to just get your foot in the door anywhere. As the youngest in the applicant pool, you’ll likely start at the bottom, but there’s nothing wrong with that.  Show that you can master (and complete) basic tasks, and earn your way up. "Think of your career as a smartphone, not a ladder," Blake advises. "So instead of a linear process, or a template, it's a smartphone: it's up to you to download the apps you need and want for your skills and experiences. So even though your first job out of college might not be perfect, it still may help you download useful apps for the future."