Jumping into my 40s like...
On the (almost) eve of my 40th Birthday, I’ve been wondering how many people realise I (and others of my age), fit into the Millennial category. Technically, the term ‘Millennials’ refers to those born between the mid ‘90s and early ‘80s (born 17th May 1981, check!). Many people confuse that with younger age groups and whatever they have in mind for age, you can be pretty sure they have negative connotations when it comes to the word ‘Millennial’.
So, it is perhaps no surprise, that with such a bad rep, Millennials are finding it particularly hard to get into and succeed in a tough job market. For the graduate Millennials I work with, they’re trying to make their way in the world, where the financial stakes are high (hellooo paying back a huge student loan), and the world feels like it doesn’t want to accept someone with no experience. But hang on, aren’t you the same people who told me a degree would open doors?
And for those Millennials with more experience under their belt, they’re looking to move on in their career. But they’re finding that the internal promotions are just not happening or if they’re looking to change company or even career, because let’s face it, we’re very different people in our mid 30s and 40s to who we were in our 20s, it just ‘aint happening. Maybe multiple CVs are being sent out with no response, or you’re securing interviews only to be pipped at the final post.
With all these frustrations, it would be easy to give up but if there is one thing Millennials won’t do, it is settle for anything less than their dreams. So, with this in mind, here are 5 Top Tips to help turn your Millennial job search into a winning one.
1) It’s actually not about experience…
One of the biggest concerns my clients have, when they’re just starting out in their career or making a career change, is that their lack of experience will mean they can’t secure a role. In fact, they may even be put off applying for something if the employer says they’re looking for experience, which they don’t have. But before you stop and move on, I would always remind clients that the employer is advertising their ‘perfect wish list’ and they know they’re unlikely to get all the things on that list. So instead of focusing on the areas you don’t ‘tick’, focus on those that you can. Think about all your fantastic knowledge, experience and transferable skills which you have gained from either study or another career.
Also remember why it is they say they want experience. Put simply, it’s because they want you to make their life easier for them. They don’t have time to spend hours training you, especially when they’re navigating this new hybrid world and way of working. So just straighten your Millennial crown and show them how that’ll be no problem for you. We’re a glorious mix of growing up in the analogue generation but are digital literate, so we can cope with all the tech you want to throw at us whilst also being able to communicate, you know, with an actual other person. So we’re going to make your life easier as we won’t be hanging on your coat tails, we’ll be embedding into the team, making connections and learning as we go.
2) Don’t fall into the most common CV trap…
“Hello! My name is Caroline and I am wonderful and am going to tell you all the things about how wonderful I am. I mean allllll the things. And at some point, I may look at your JD and job advert but that’s not essential for me to do, as I’ve just told you I am SO wonderful that it won’t matter, right?” Wrong! Match your CV to the JD/advert as closely as you possibly can - pick out the specific information they’re asking for and nothing else. Ask yourself ‘so what?’, every time you try to put something on your application. ‘So what?’ means thinking about why am I including this? Is it relevant? If I was a piece of computer software (yes, the ATS struggle is real), or an inexperienced person reading this (hello junior recruiter), would it help me to think this applicant is the perfect person for the job? If not, then leave it out. Focus on matching your CV to their job advert and leave everything else out, no matter how proud you are of it. Think of it like a dating/matching service - your potential new beau does not need to know you once won a writing competition aged 6, but they probably do want to know you thoughts on what makes a good night out or marriage.
3) The hidden job market is the most lucrative
As well as applying for openly advertised roles, make sure you look for things that aren’t so obvious. It is a good way ‘in’ and won’t be so competitive or crowded as a role advertised somewhere like Indeed. Speculative approaches, making use of your network, researching companies and their social media platforms for hot topics, are all good things to help put you at the front of the job que. And as a Millennial, you don’t just want any job so this will be a good way to connect with potential employers and target those you really want to work for, who will be the right fit for you. And once you’re fully ‘on board’ with the idea of working for them, you can really sell to them why you’d be the perfect fit.
4) Never underestimate the power of your personal brand
A recent client of mine was delighted that after her attendance at my ‘Get employers chasing you’ masterclass, she was offered not one, but two, job offers, and put it down to the things she’d learned at the class, particularly about personal brand. Whether it’s on LinkedIn, another social media platform or simply in person, working out who you are and what you stand for, your skills and strengths and the way you can solve potential employer’s problems, is crucial in your job search. This also goes for internal promotion, don’t assume that just because you work there already that you are ‘known’ by the people that matter. Get involved in projects outside of our job scope, join the employee forum or even the social committee. Make yourself known as someone who is indispensable to that organisation and many of those groups involve senior leaders, so even better for getting noticed.
5) The most important question at interview...
It can be really frustrating when you feel like you’ve done a great interview but then hear they’re going with someone else. If you hear often that they’re choosing someone with more experience, look back at points one and two of these tips as those things also apply at interview. But also make sure you don’t miss any opportunities when you are with them, to really sell yourself and answer any queries or perhaps underlying concerns they have about you. Don’t walk out of that room (literally or virtually), until you feel any potential question marks over your suitability for the role have been dealt with. It’s vital therefore, either during (by reading their body language), or at the end of interview, you ask this simple question:
Have I answered all your questions fully or is there anything else you need clarity on?
Or words to that effect. It’s so often a chance to clear up any confusion or where they can ask the question they really wanted to - and often it’s not the one on their interview sheet.
I hope these tips help but if you want further support, I am about to launch my new Talent Transformation Programme which supports Millennials to clarify, get into and thrive in their careers. Please get in touch to find out more about how it works, with a combination or online learning to cover some of the basics and then further tailored support via one to one sessions, where we’ll apply that learning to your individual circumstance and take you from frustrated and overwhelmed, to achieving your dream career success.