Millennials: dressed in slacks, smartphone in hand, we’re ready for the professional world. Yet we stand unsure. With millennial stereotypes, the idea of interviewing can become more stressful than it should be. Are we allowed to express confidence in our skill set, or will we be read as arrogant? But if we show too much humility, will we be labeled as lazy? In my network’s experience, you tiptoe in fear that the baby boomer interviewing you might rule you out on first impression.
So how do we successfully walk the tightrope between arrogant and lazy? Must we be labeled as one or the other? I know plenty of millennials that are both, and even more that are neither.
As an employer, you may have had a negative experience employing a millennial in the past. You may even have a millennial child, niece, or nephew whom you roll your eyes at, and whose behavior discourages you from hiring us. You have reasons to be guarded; we often question authority, or feel that we are suited for leadership. We learn systems and technology at a speed that surpasses the technology itself, and we have high standards for it. We are also whistleblowers at heart, refusing to accept corruption when we see it.
But in these so-called negatives we find the most valuable positive features of millennials: we question authority because we are alternative thinkers and find creative solutions that are often more beneficial. And if we’re given leadership, we will never abuse or corrupt it. Because we are technologically savvy, we capitalize on the technology you give us and can often improve it. And as active whistleblowers, we focus on open, internal communications, and seek to better the companies we work for instead of sitting back and accepting things as they are. In short, we are perfectionists that love aiding growth.
For millennials, I think the key to giving the correct impression is comfort. A gust of wind should not shake you from your center of gravity––it should move around you. Allow yourself to become comfortable with your personality, self, and skill set. Address your insecurities when appropriate, and accept that you will fall many times before making it across with ease. Be comfortable with the idea of falling, but always keep your eyes on the other side, for looking down will only distract.
Personally, I tread lightly between the professionally fatal impressions to my right and left. But I walk with my eyes forward, determined and trusting. I may not make it to the other side in each attempt. I will fall many times, and it will hurt. But the day I walk end to end with ease, I will be unstoppable. (That doesn’t sound too cocky, does it?)