10 Tips for Recent College Grads: Millennials in the Job Market

There has been a lot of talk about the “Millennial” generation. Ask most hiring managers, and you will hear about a sense of entitlement, lack of professionalism and the inability to stay in one job for long. Below are a few tips that I have picked up in my experience working with this population as a recruiter and as a result of trial and error in my first few years in the workforce.

1. If you want the job, set yourself apart from the crowd. Don’t just apply online and think that will be enough. Network. Learn the hiring manager’s name before you call. Do something to make them remember you; and if possible, make connections in person.

2. It is not likely that you will make 100K in your first job out of college. Be realistic in your salary expectations. Entry level work means entry level pay. You have plenty of time to get rich.

3. If you want to keep your job, don’t act as if the work is beneath you. Yes, you learned lots of things in college – and you want to use your skills. Still, you have to start somewhere. If you’re asked to make copies, make the best copies your manager has ever seen.

4. Watch your e-mail etiquette. E-mail is not texting. Keep the emoticons, LOL’s and slang terms out of your communications with clients and upper management. Just because Outlook makes a smiley face, doesn’t mean you should use it.

5. Accept that there isn’t always a reason – and that you may not be able to change the world. In Corporate America, you will see a lot of things that make you wonder “Why?”. It will make you feel like a 3 year old again, wanting to question everything. It’s okay to ask questions but make sure you ask respectfully and, even if processes don’t make sense (to anyone), follow them. Sometimes, you just have to accept “that’s the way it is”.

6. Know the difference between friends and co-workers. Don’t drink at work lunches. Don’t drink excessively at work parties or work dinners – even if everyone else is. Free alcohol doesn’t mean a free pass to get wasted, and being known as a party animal won’t get you promoted. Do you really want to be the one everyone is telling a story about Monday morning?

7. Respect the chain of command. If you have an issue, take it to your boss. Don’t take it to his boss, or the person above them. Going over someone’s head will not gain you any points.

8. Show up on time. Be on time for interviews, for work, etc. Yes, we know you can probably do the same thing from home with your laptop and iPhone. Your manager decided you need to come into the office. Listen to them.

9. Don’t job hop excessively. In your first few years in the workplace, you need to stay one place long enough to establish a track record and pick up skills. Once you have 2-3 years of experience, companies are going to “hunt” you. Wait it out – it’s important to show a sense of commitment to a particular company, and advancement within one company looks better than several lateral transfers between companies.  If you get the chance of a lifetime; take it – but make sure it really is as good as you initially think.

10. Dress the part. Wear a suit to a job interview. Don’t wear flip flops to the office, even on casual day in the summer. Some companies have a more casual policy but when in doubt, err on the safe side.