Have you ever seen a job posting that said something like “x number of years experience required”? My first reaction when I started looking for work, especially when looking for entry level jobs, was “how the heck do I get my foot in the door and gain experience when every job already requires experience?!” It’s a conundrum that the younger generations face as higher education with 1+ years of experience becomes a requirement for even the most entry level positions. What’s even worse is that a lot of the time companies won’t count internships (this isn’t always true, but I have definitely seen ads that highlight “paid” experience). This becomes frustrating, confusing, and makes the job search process downright awful.
Now, I got to where I am partially because someone took a chance on me. I had the skills, but definitely not the years, to get where I am now. Even so, my supervisor was forward thinking and paid more attention to what I could bring to the table in the future as opposed to my age or the number of years I had worked in social work (which was technically about 6months-1year if you’re not counting internships).
So, I’m here on behalf of all you twenty-somethings that are just looking for a shot to prove yourselves! You’ve worked hard, learned as much as you can on your own, and deserve a chance to continue to grow. While you may not have the same experience as someone who’s been in the field for 20+ years, you definitely bring a lot to the table. Let’s look at how businesses can utilize the various types of experiences and skill sets that Generation Y holds.
We’re tech-savvy. You know what I got my masters degree in? Social work. You know what people seem to think I got my masters degree in based on some of the questions I’m asked? Computers, particularly things like PowerPoint, Word, and Excel. Word has even gotten around the office that I’m the seventh floor tech guru (which I most certainly am not, but I can hold my own with most of the questions). This all comes about because we’re the first generation to really be brought up with computers. Most of us are pretty tech-savvy and can easily figure out our way around different programs or at the very least Microsoft Office. And the fact is, if we don’t know the answer, we’ll Google it and figure it out.
Because of this, we become a huge asset to organizations where older workers are not as familiar with these programs (especially social media). And as many of you know, the world is quickly transferring over to being completely technology dependent (whether that’s good or bad is still up for debate). Bring us on in and let us show you just how important knowing technology really is now-a-days.
We’re achievement oriented. Thanks to our parents always teaching us that we should be better than everyone else (ok, maybe not all parents did this), Generation Y is very achievement oriented. We’re ambitious, want to be successful, and we want others to recognize that we’re successful. This is a characteristic businesses should be jumping on! We’re willing to take risks and tackle anything you throw at us. When utilized correctly, this can be an amazing attribute to have on your team.
We’re open to change and want to make it happen. If your company image is feeling a little stale and old, sometimes you need to bring in individuals with a fresh perspective. Who better to help you than a few twenty-somethings that are ready to take action and move things in a new direction? We were raised to think outside the box and we’re motivated to transform the way people live their lives. You’d be kidding yourself if you didn’t think this was important to have on your staff.
Older employees may be very resistant to this type of change which could create a few obstacles. One time in a meeting I actually asked people (ok, sternly commented in a very loud voice) why we were all sitting there if no one was willing to actually do anything different (probably one of my best moments, not going to lie). That resistance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t push for a fresher perspective and change of pace. It just means you’ll have a few people who are a little cranky because change is scary. Get over it.
So, before you start counting out the kid who just graduated from college, think about what they could add that can’t be found on a resume. And for all of you that are applying to these jobs, use your cover letter to highlight this set of unusual/interesting experiences and skills. Show them how you can contribute to a brighter future for that organization. Let the world know you’re a jack of all trades (without sounding too arrogant) even if you haven’t had the chance to spend 10 years at one company. You’ll get there eventually. You just need to be given the chance. (Give the damn kids a chance, man!)
Now, it’s your turn! As part of Generation Y, what unique skills do you bring to the table? And for all those employers, what can this generation do to stand out from the crowd?