“Millennial” wasn’t a word you heard all that often just a few years ago. Less and less often referred to as Generation Y, Millennials are the group of young people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. Sometimes referred to as the Echo Boomers, Millennials are the product of the spike in births during the ’80s and early ’90s that came about when Baby Boomers settled down to start families.
If you’re between 13 and 30, you can probably identify as a Millennial off the bat, because you exhibit a lot of the traits. It’s not an attitude thing or a hipster identity – it’s how you were raised. Millennials know the internet like a home country, they’re good with social media and they’re handy with computers. Millennials tend to lean toward liberal politics and have ambitious career goals, but nonetheless take a lot of grief for being slow to “realize their potential” out of college.
If you’re really not sure whether or not you classify as a Millennial, you can always take this handy test provided by the Pew Research Center. Via questions about how much TV you watched in the past 24 hours or how many texts you received yesterday, the Pew test can pretty accurately guess which generation you fall into.
But what does being a Millennial mean to you – especially when it comes to your career aspirations and finding a job?
The state of the Millennial
Your generation has already earned itself a bad rap in some circles, but don’t let that get you down. For every Time magazine cover calling you a “lazy, entitled narcissist,” there are plenty of employers out there willing to recognize your know-how and bring you on board for entry level jobs.
But it’s also true that the job market isn’t what it used to be. If you’re feeling frustrated, commiserate with Old Economy Steve, one of the most popular memes to make the rounds this recession. Student loans and endless job dead ends can be frustrating. But it’s not time to give up yet.
America technically got out of the recession in 2009, but based on job growth you wouldn’t know it. Still, things are on the rise and they’re likely to get even better. According to CNN Money, 2014 may be the magic year when things come together and the economy not only gets its footing but hits the ground running. The signs: First, the news source points out that Congress finally managed to stabilize the U.S. credit rating. Secondly, home prices are on the rise with fewer insane mortgages that lead to crushing debt.
So maybe you’re not a homeowner, but this is still a good sign. Where there’s money, there’s jobs.
The Millennial in the job market
So as the job market improves in the coming year, how does that help Millennials who are just coming out of college? It may seem as though employers would rather hire seasoned veterans, but while some news sources like Time would rather beleaguer the Millennial reputation with false accusations of narcissism, other sources are cheerleading the generation on, like the Pew Research Center.
Alongside its Millennial survey, Pew also released a report, initially composed in 2010, that outlines why Millennials are confident, connected and open to change. More importantly, your generation is also on track to be the “most educated” in American history. That’s not a bad generational resume.
So, if you’re a Millennial seeking employment, it’s in your best interest to play up that confidence, connectedness and receptivity to change. Talk up your computer skills. Take to Twitter to forge an online presence. Create a LinkedIn profile. Tailor your resume to beat automated screening software. Start a blog.
However, it’s also important to avoid the pratfalls many Millennials stumble into during the job search process. For instance, don’t use technology as a shield. Get out there and go to interviews, make calls, get in touch with friends and contacts. Be proactive!
Also, as obvious as it sounds, always groom cover letters and your resume for even the smallest typos and errors. These can be deal breakers with some major employers. And when you go in for an interview, make sure that you yourself are equally well-groomed.
Curious about what other problems Millennials sometimes stumble into during the job search? Forbes has a whole list of them. While less condescending than the Time cover story, it’s still a pretty harsh compilation of failings. Just don’t take it personally. Learn from the mistakes of other Millennials and stay on your game, and you’ll surpass expectations.