The millennial trifecta of independence, creativity, and tech competency has allowed this generation to forge innovate paths that truly break any mold that confined their predecessors. Businesses large and small have clamored to attract the unique vision and skills they bring to the workplace, but the allure is fading as more and more employers reveal the group’s dark reality: millennials are unprepared to conduct a job search.
In July, Lindsay Gellman of The Wall Street Journal reported that recent grads are backing out of job offers at alarming rates; she simultaneously published the follow-up piece, “How to Back Out of a Job Offer—Gracefully.” I can only imagine that her haste in publishing the advice was meant to catch the attention of millennials contemplating reneging on an offer. Her timeliness and guidance are spot on, but none of that matters. When it comes to millennials preparing for their job search, they’re not. They’re not reading Lindsay’s column, or one of the thousands of books published about preparing for a job search; they’re not visiting their college career development staff, let alone the office website; they’re not even watching a YouTube video about it.
I recently worked with a June grad who met with a headhunter wearing shorts and smelling like smoke. She openly admitted she did not know that meeting a headhunter was like an interview. She also acknowledged she has no idea what is appropriate to wear to an interview. The smoke smell threw her, as she doesn’t smoke. After some thought, she told me that she doesn’t know how to iron; so to prepare for the meeting, she “ironed” her shirt with her hair straightening iron.
“June grad” expressed frustration that her university’s business school prepared their grads, but her school didn’t. This is a common misconception, but it isn’t completely off; schools should do more considering their dependence on employment outcomes. Unfortunately, many institutions are struggling to implement this education as part of the curriculum without overwhelming their existing faculty, staff, and limited budgets. People ask, “Where are the parents?” Baby-boomer parents are often perplexed by how the internet generation searches for a job, assuming that their tech-savvy millennial child surely knows better than they do. Of course, there’s the responsibility of the millennial in the process. Without the education surrounding fundamentals like professional communication, behavior, and attire, their innovation is misguided and often backfires on those who fail to embrace the basics before moving outside of the box.
Millennials, you must take ownership of your job search starting with the basics. Here are tips to get you started that won’t cost you a dime:
· Visit your university career services office website: it’s all on there. Trust me.
· Start the process early: there’s no way to tell how long it will take. Preparing for the search process, from resume to offer letter, takes time and focus. Don’t cram it in. Start during your junior year if you can.
· Ask for advice every step of the way: when drafting your resume, before submitting the application, even what to say if you’re called or e-mailed for an interview. You can ask the staff in career services, your advisor, a faculty member, or your parents. The more you ask, the more prepared you’ll be.
Once you grasp some best practices, then you can put your spin on the process, helping you stand out from the competition. And “June grad”, if you’re reading this, I think you’re on to something: I’d love a dual hair/clothes iron for traveling.