*The following piece has been written by millennial guest author Sam Sandler (and therefore may not be suitable for all audiences).
We’ve spent a lot of time discussing why millennials are over-indulged, entitled, spoiled, and borderline useless in the workforce. But, how much time have you spent listening to what millennials have to say? How many times have you openly and honestly engaged in discourse about the other side?
Now ask yourself how many times you’ve jumped to conclusions when reviewing a resume, candidate, or evaluating a new hire?
Probably just as much as we’ve talked about why millennials aren’t worthy of a spot on the team.
The Super Honest Truth about Millennials in the Workplace First things first: I know not all recruiters and hiring managers are rotten. I have a real big problem with generalizations, so I don’t want you to get the idea that that’s what I’m doing. Stereotypes (like that all hiring managers and recruiters need to re-evaluate or that millennials = 👎) are dangerous, limiting, and frankly, they’re unfair.
But for those recruiters and hiring managers who do take stereotypes literally, I’ve set out to clear the air a little bit. I want to give you a look into the mind of an opinionated millennial whose fallen victim to all of the following stereotypes.
Proceed with caution (and an open mind).
1. Millennials are just so lazy. If by lazy you mean I really just don’t want to get up from my chair to pick up the paper ball that didn’t land in the trash, yeah, I’m pretty lazy.
If by lazy you mean enjoying an extra hour of sleep, wearing clothes that make sitting at a desk for 8 hours more comfortable, and dreading a 2-hour meeting (that could have been in email, let’s be honest) that takes away from pressing work, yeah, I’m pretty lazy.
But if by lazy you mean I don’t want to dominate the workplace, collaborate and create with an innovative team, and trump my competition? No, I’m not lazy.
My recommendation to recruiters and hiring managers Please take into consideration that we can offer unique perspectives despite operating on a different system. Will our delivery be a little wonky? Maybe, but we see things from a new lens. Stop punishing us for that.
Quit being hung up on the whole “this is how things have always been” excuse and evolve with the rest of the world. Face it: Millennials are nearly the whole workforce right now. You can’t hide from us forever.
2. Millennials aren’t loyal. She’ll probably leave in a month. Some millennials don’t tolerate certain types of workplace behavior. And on behalf of all millennials, I will not apologize for that. #sorrynotsorry
Recruiters and hiring managers probably take one look at my resume and instantly they’re like, “wow, she’s a job hopper. Let’s move on.”
Cute, but not very fair, guys. Let’s me break this down:
If by disloyal you mean remaining at a company where CEOs demoralize and humiliate their employees and blame that behavior on “management style,” yeah, I’m disloyal.
If by disloyal you mean staying with a company that doesn’t challenge me or help me grow professionally, yeah, I’m disloyal.
Would I rather face unemployment and lose a competitive salary if it means leaving a toxic work environment? You’re damn right I would. That doesn’t make me a job hopper; this makes me driven, and this shows self-respect. Like it or leave it.
Oh, and I know research says that millennials put a higher priority on contributing to the common good and helping others. I, however, care more about stability, professional growth, and gaining competitive skills at my workplace. I’ll volunteer on the weekend, thank you.
My recommendation to recruiters and hiring managers Consider that, surprise! Job hopping isn’t just because we’re flighty. Hardly ever are things as simple as they seem.
Next time you come across a resume or interview a job hopper, think about the possibility that she was professionally stagnant. Why penalize her for staying when her mind felt dormant? How much value could she really offer if she wasn’t exercising her potential?
Don’t be weirded out or skeptical if she dishes the real scoop about why she left. After all, you're the one who asked. We don't like feeling like we have to fib a little just to make it to the next step. Plus, you can learn a lot about how someone handles both personal and professional conflict when you're open to honest answers.
And you know, don’t ask the question if you’re not looking for an honest answer. What exactly are you even looking for? Is your mind already made up before you even ask?
3. Millennials don’t want to work very hard. My drive to lead is probably a little extreme (and has admittedly gotten me into some trouble), but that’s a story for another day.
Instead, I’d like to address another story in which I was accused of not working very hard. In fact, I was the talk of the office because, after writing for 5 hours straight, sometimes I’d walk around, chat with some friends, grab a coffee from the kitchen, and briefly chill on my phone.
Sometimes if I was uncomfortable at my desk, I’d go to one of the big comfy chairs around the office and sit cross-legged with my computer on my lap. I literally heard someone say, “If she wants to sit like that, she might as well go home.”
I’m like, girl, I wish.
But no seriously, appalled that by taking a brain break or getting more comfortable was a declaration that I wasn’t working hard. I never missed a deadline, I never failed to network and build relationships in the community for the sake of the company, and not once did I refuse more responsibilities.
And also, like, why were the chairs even there if you’re just going to harp on about it?
My recommendation to recruiters and hiring managers Veer away from finding someone who checks every single box and open to someone who’s a little different. If a candidate has a proven record that she gets her work done, gets along with her peers, and isn’t snarky and uncooperative in a team environment, what’s the holdup?
4. Millennials are so entitled. Ugh. You’re right, some of us are. And honestly, I was. I was a huge brat. I was eager to learn, but I did a really bad job communicating that.
I reached a point where I knew I needed to improve my own behavior at work. The only way to do that was to ask for some raw feedback from a previous employer. Let's just say she brought me way back down to reality. Unfortunately, receiving this type of honest feedback is few and far between. In fact, even asking for feedback isn’t all that common. Maybe that's because millennials are afraid of rejection. I know I was, but I can't speak for everyone (remember, generalizations are unreliable).
My recommendation to recruiters and hiring managers If a candidate flops an interview and asks for advice, spare some time and give it to her. She wouldn’t be asking if it wasn’t important. Moving someone along through the hiring process is a step further to a big life change. Not moving forward with the hiring process is also a game-changer. Keep the ball rolling.
When employers, recruiters, and hiring managers truly invest in people—you know, take the time to practice patience and build a relationship—it can transform someone’s entire life.
Not only did the feedback I received change me as a person (dead serious), but it molded me into an employee that an employer wanted to work with; a person who was selfless and devoted to her team and the company’s success; an employee who offers real value.
All because someone agreed to get coffee with me and lay it all out on the table.
5. Millennials demand promotions too quickly. Remember: they’re lazy. Is it possible that there’s a misunderstanding between salary ranges, and promotion and bonus structures?
The answer is yes. It’s actually like, probably what’s happening. And I say that not just from my own experience, but from a lot of my peers.
My recommendation to recruiters and hiring managers Different companies have varying structures for promotions, bonuses, and so on. When you’re talking with a candidate, make sure you have this information on-hand. Be as transparent as possible to avoid any confusion down the line if and when candidates are hired in.
Also just consider that there may be a misunderstanding between competitive, average, and low salaries. Like, the candidate seriously might not know and will, therefore, have expectations that don’t really make sense.
If after they’ve been informed of the structure and still “demand” a promotion, then you’ve got another problem on your hands.
I’m sure you’ve noticed a common theme: be adaptive, understanding, personable, and open to new ideas and fresh perspectives. Be open to the fact that things are different these days and that’s okay. Change is scary, but a lot of the time change happens for the better.
So, from a millennial to a recruiter: Don't assume we're all the same and stop judging. Assumptions can be crippling. Be clear about expectations from the get-go to avoid confusion. As long as we deliver a finished product, the way in which we get there is completely irrelevant. What is relevant, however, is the way the world is shifting. So stay relevant, and make personal improvements (because this is definitely a personal problem) to help move this industry forward.