Beat the Millennial Bad Rap

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So here’s the common rap on millennials – they have exaggerated self-worth, they’re allergic to hard work but overly ambitious, and many have established a permanent pad in their parents’ basement.

Many would argue that this rap is a bad one – unfair, inaccurate and insensitive. Yet if you’re between the ages of 18 and 35, the reality is that this negative perception exists among some in the workplace. As a millennial, when you go into a job interview you have to assume you drag along some of that generational baggage with you.

So how do you beat the bad rap and potentially land the job? The first step is acknowledging that – fair or not – these stereotypes exist. From there, you can take actions before, during and after a job interview to shed the stereotype and shine as a candidate.

Scrub social media:

If you don’t want people thinking you’re overly self-centered, it’s probably best not to post selfies three times a day or chronicle your every move with a Tweet. When you’re in the job hunt, take the time to review your social media presence and try to delete or hide anything that might perpetuate a negative millennial stereotype.

Live on LinkedIn:

LinkedIn might not carry the cool of Instagram, but to the decision-makers who will determine your fate it is their go-to social media source. LinkedIn currently owns the professional space when it comes to social media, and a strong presence there can set you apart from the millennial crowd. Check out some tips on how to bolster your LinkedIn profile and become an active participant.

Don’t reinforce stereotypes:

The sneaky thing about a stereotype is it doesn’t take very much to reinforce it. An interviewer who is smugly convinced he has millennials all figured out will grasp hold of the smallest detail to support that thinking. With that in mind, during your interview make sure you don’t come across as needy or deserving of a promotion to manager in year one. And if it just so happens you are living in your old man’s basement at the moment, no need to go there with the interviewer.

Kick it old-school:

If the opportunity arises, avoid talking about yourself and instead express your admiration for someone from an older generation. For example, if you’re asked how you handle challenges on the job, have a story in your back pocket that credits a former boss, coach or teacher for providing insight into how to deal with adversity. This approach delivers a double-whammy to the self-centered millennial stereotype emphasizing that you don’t have all the answers and that you look to those with experience for guidance.


One knock on millennials that likely does have bit of validity is that social media – along with emerging forms of digital communications – have left some millennials lacking soft skills that are so essential and valued in many workplaces. One soft skill that you cannot afford to overlook is a timely and courteous follow-up email or phone call thanking the interviewer and reinforcing your interest in the job. If you really want to impress, send a letter via snail mail. That’s sure to set you apart from your competition – as well as the unwelcome millennial stereotype.

As a millennial, you know you are part of a hard-working, creative and innovative generation. By taking the steps to beat the bad rap, you can prove it to others as well.

Are you having trouble finding the ideal job or internship? Is your lack of experience working against you? Many young professionals are in this situation, and we’re here to help with Adecco Way to Work. Click here to learn more about the Way to Work Program.

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