Job interview? Beat the millennial stereotype
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — How would a non millennial explain our current Catch-22? We can’t get a job because we don’t have enough job experience but we don’t have have enough job experience to get a job! — Bobby Irven, Facebook
Bobby, it’s something every generation has complained about, but millennials have an extra disadvantage.
You already have a reputation… and it’s not a good one.
Hiring managers assume your 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.
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.)
Fair or not (and I think it’s undeserved), you’ll need to overcome that with hiring managers. Anyone aged 18 to 35 walking into a job interview should follow these 6 rules:
1. Be aware of the stereotype and take special care not to reinforce it. For one, don’t start every sentence with the word: “I.” A marketing executive I know has interviewed thousands of millennials and hired dozens. His office mates wager on how many times an interviewee will use the word, “I.”
2. Don’t begin the interview by asking how quickly you will make manager. It’s nice to be ambitious, but you have to prove yourself first. Hiring managers want to know what YOU can do for THEM, not what THEY can do for YOU on day one.
3. Clean up your social profile. Delete embarrassing selfies. Generation X did not have five years of party pictures and political opinions available for potential bosses to see on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. Get on LinkedIn and make sure you look and sound professional. Google yourself. Your prospective new boss will.
4. Make sure you’re not skipping student loan payments. Because, guess what? Many employers run background credit checks — especially for jobs that have a financial responsibility. They’ll also see if you’re starting out life with questionable debt habits.
5. Ditch the fancy business words. Words like “facilitate,” “team player” and “transition” are for more experienced people who can give examples of work where they have actually done those things. Otherwise, they’re just empty buzzwords. Instead, find a way in the interview to display your integrity, work ethic and professionalism — the top qualities employers value today. If you don’t have a 4.0, tap into the “soft skills” that sell you. The billionaire founder of Home Depot Ken Langone said it best: “The world is run by C students.”
6. Know the company. You may have graduated, but you still need to do a lot of homework. Dig beyond the employer’s “About Us” section on its home page. Read up all you can on the company. Find out who its main competitors are. Most important, figure out if you know anyone there who can help you stand out in the interview and vouch for your work ethic.
–Christine Romans is CNN’s Chief Business Correspondent and author of Smart is the New Rich: Money Guide for Millennials. The book is currently available for pre-order at Amazon.com and in bookstores next week. Romans is giving away a copy to each person whose question is being answered this week.
Millennials: What’s your most pressing money question?
Are you worried about getting a job? Ask Christine Romans your question here, or on Twitter or Facebook using #askchristine and @cnnmoney.
By Christine Romans