Does it feel like millennials and the younger generations have a bad rep? We constantly hear our generation described as “entitled”, “lazy”, “self-important”, and these words are coming from the previous generations. Now that we are entering the workforce, we’re making professional connections with these generations and building our paths to careers with their guidance and authority. The “entitled, lazy, self-important millennial” is not how anyone wants to be described, and it is a discouraging title when you are first connecting with older generations in a professional setting.
But, good news: this negative generalization is becoming a generalization of the past. With millennials gaining professional experience, we are now recognizing ourselves as a generation with different career values. Maybe once upon a time, we were self-absorbed (isn’t that a natural stage in growing up?), however now as young adults we are full of new ideas, passionate about global issues, and possess a second-nature understanding of technology and social media that most are baffled by. We shouldn’t feel discouraged by the current stereotype, because not all believe this is true. In fact, most believe it is completely backwards. We should instead connect with the right people, employers, and work environment for us to shake the “lazy” stereotype. The right connections are the ones who see you as a vehicle for change and make you feel valuable as a young professional.
Fact: In less than 2 years, we will have the most spending power of any generation, and we are set to make up a third of the global workforce by 2020. Appealing to millennials (and gen Z) is no longer optional.
Successful companies see the change and powershift ahead and are making adjustments to appeal to younger professionals. Companies looking for young professionals value passion and entrepreneurial spirit. And they are willing to offer more flexibility, transparency, and openness.
To follow a career path you are passionate about, connect with the right people and environment. Here are 5 quick tips when looking for connections to the right career path for you:
- Look at an employer’s core values and see if they match yours. Most company websites will list their values in the “About Us” section. Or you can pick up their values in the company description. Are you passionate about the environment? Animals? Women empowerment? Technology? If your work shares the same values as you, it makes it easy to stay motivated and work hard because it is something you believe in. The right employer will recognize your passion and see it as your biggest asset. Skills can be trained but the passion needs to be there to succeed.
- Engage your peers by sharing your new ideas. It’s refreshing in a workplace, and even if it isn’t a fully structured “perfect” idea, your peers will feel inspired and in most cases, build on your idea to make it something truly innovative or problem-solving. By sparking ideas or providing a fresh perspective on a workplace problem, you connect with your environment and become a valuable member of the team.
- Have a generous spirit. The best networkers are the people who genuinely like to help people and do not expect anything in return. They are always doing it. And if there is an occasion where they may need something, people will bend over backwards to help them. Try to connect with people on a personal level and find a way to help them.
- Be trustworthy. Be honest on your resume, in your interviews, and with work projects. Trustworthiness is key when building long-term professional connections, and fibbing are major red flags for employers. The truth eventually comes out, so your best bet is to prove that you are someone that can be relied on to get a job done and keep things running smoothly.
- Keep in mind the handful of people that have helped you on your career path and stay connected with them. Stay connected with your mentors, a special coworker or a regular customer who has helped you. It’s easy to email every 2-3 times a year, and even easier to stay connected on social media.
This is just the beginning of your professional journey. Start on a path you are passionate about. By doing so, you will never be considered the “lazy millennial” and will instead be working hard for something you believe in all while connecting with valuable people that can help you grow.