PR campaign for the Millennials?
Wow, the Millennial Generation is really getting a bad wrap these days.
There’s a video making fun of the entire generation that is gaining a lot of notoriety – and there have been recent debates about the future success of this generation here and here and here. They say these candidates lack respect for the existing business culture, are entitled and don’t even have the basic skills necessary to be qualified for an entry level job. This is sad.
I’m honestly not sure why Millennials are being picked on. Let’s compare a generation to a class room. There are going to be over achievers, those who hit the mark (and don’t do anything more or less) and others who don’t even come close to meeting expectations.
I’ll say I have met some interesting candidates who would fall into the later group – and they would definitely fit the stereotypical definition of the Millennial Generation. But, after being in the workforce for about 15 years, I can say I’ve met these same people who are my age and older, spanning every working generation that is still alive today.
I’d also like to point out that – besides Liza and me – our entire office is comprised of Millennials. They are smart, hard-working, thoughtful and totally respectful of the existing business culture.
So what can be done about this bad mark for the Millennials? If you are a Millennial who really wants to change the perception of you and your colleagues/classmates, perhaps a good, solid PR plan could help. You’ll of course want to identify the different audiences that you’ll need to communicate with, the channels you’ll use to reach them and your key messages. Beyond that, you need some good tactics to help gain visibility for all of the shining generational examples that we know are within your group.
Asked someone at your dream job to mentor you. I have been witness to several disappointing incidents involving interviews with Millennial candidates. Instances where I know – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that you (the prospective candidate) just don’t know what you don’t know. Here’s just a small, very small, list of how I know many of the current graduates I come across are severely lacking in job placement skills:
- You haven’t researched our organization.
- You aren’t really sure what you want to do (besides take a month off after graduation to tour the European countryside).
- The resume you use to apply to be a public relations account coordinator is the exact same one you use to apply for a host/hostess position at a local restaurant.
- You come to the interview ready to hear what we are prepared to give you (rather than preparing to speak about how you can use your skills to benefit our company).
- You arrive to the interview without any preparation. No pen and notebook (or iPad) in hand, no resume, no portfolio, no writing examples – or anything to show that you can meet the expectations for the job requirements.
These things are so easy to fix – but you won’t know to do it unless you ask someone for guidance.
Created a student organization that exists solely to further professional development for the Millennial generation. This could be replicated across campuses and would provide education to so many individuals who are in need of understanding how to navigate obtaining a job in your specific industry.
Host panel events, webinars and conferences that bring all generations together. How can Millennials bring their savvy talents to the table for businesses without losing the zest they have for the future? If we all come together, I’m sure we can figure it out. In a recent article, defending the Millennial generation, the author mentions “They’re going to hire me for who I am, not what I wear.” This, unfortunately, is not true. As an employer, I don’t care who you are – not at first at least. I care what you can do for my company and clients. Period. Can you problem-solve? Can you understand a task with very little information and use your own research skills to figure out the rest? Are you analytical? Can you write well? Do you understand how to communicate using a variety of tools and channels? Do you want to come in to my office every day and present a good attitude and do the best job you can? Those are the things I’m looking for – how can you let me know that you have all these skills? Maybe continuing education that addresses these topics could help.
If you have speakers from all different backgrounds and generations share what they know. You could tailor what you learn to benefit you.
Identify top producers and highlight them. As I’ve mentioned, there are so many Millennials who are doing it “right.” How can you shine the spotlight on them to further educate others? Could you dedicate a blog, a website, a video series or special events surrounding these superstars? How are others going to learn if they don’t have good examples?
Maybe these aren’t the right ideas. Maybe there is something more to it – but can we at least steer the conversation away from “You all suck” to “You have so much potential. How can we help?”