Today, I read a troubling article about how millennials are having difficulties securing employment due to our own immaturity. Of course, the job market is far from perfect, but employers are reporting that they refuse to hire recent college graduates due to their lack of professionalism.
I am fortunate enough to have went to a university in which professionalism was integral to our course of study. We were required to take a 1 credit class that taught us how to write resumes, dress for an interview, etcetcetc. I took my education for granted. I found that 1 credit class a futile exercise in common sense. However, it’s clear that such a course is actually valuable, and not the complete waste of time that I thought it was.
Hiring managers reported that a number of millennials showed up to job interviews in casual clothing, used unprofessional email language, used their cell phones, and even had their mothers accompany them to the interview. Another millennial fault was not adequately researching the job before attending the interview.
A while back, I wrote a pointed article on Thought Catalog offering 21 tips for millennials who hope to make it in this uncertain world. It’s clear my words fell on deaf ears. So here’s some quick interview tips for my fellow millennials.
1. Have an awesome resume. Resume writing isn’t easy, but there are a plethora of free services that help with crafting a compelling resume. Your resume should begin with your contact information, and follow with your educational experience, and work history. If room permits, feel free to add any awards you won and interests and skills that you have. Make sure your resume is in a comfortable font, is grammatically correct, and consistent. If you can, have your college job placement office give it a quick glance. And remember, the resume should NEVER be longer than a page. NEVER.
Pro tip: On my resume, I include “multiculturalism” as an interest of mine. Without fail, I’m always asked about it during an interview.
2. Have a professional email address. firstname.lastname@example.org isn’t gonna cut it. The best emails typically include your name with limited numbers.
3. Once you secured the interview, RESEARCH the company you’re interviewing with. Of course, you don’t have to delve into their quarterly reports, but you should be able to summarize the company and the position you’re interviewing for, in about 2-5 sentences. More times than not, employers will ask “do you know about our company?” Saying no to this question ensures that your resume goes in the trash.
Pro tip: Before the interview, just Google the company, and play on their website. That’s all the research you really need.
4. Make sure your social media image isn’t too embarrassing. No twerk videos, no excessive profanity, etcetcetc. If you’re going to post pictures of you drinking, make sure it’s seemingly respectable; i.e. you’re out with your friends, and there are cocktails on the table. Employers look at your social media to gain a sense of you. Make sure the cyber impression you’re leaving them with is one that you don’t mind being accountable for.
5. Following your interview, extend a courteous email thanking the hiring team for considering your candidacy. Wait until the next morning to send a brief and professional email thanking them for the opportunity to interview. Chances are they won’t respond, but at least your name, email, interview, and courtesy are fresh on their minds during the hiring process.
6. ALL EMAILS YOU SEND SHOULD BE PROFESSIONAL. Never use short hand when sending an email, especially while you’re trying to secure employment.
7. Dress professionally. Always. Just because the start-up you’re interviewing for boasts a relaxed work environment, don’t assume that casual attire is welcome during the interview. Ladies, make sure your skirts are around the knee, cover your shoulders, and hide your cleavage. Your outfit can be form-fitting, but not revealing. Men, use an iron and tuck in your shirt. And for both sexes, cover up those tattoos and piercings, comb your hair, and please remember to NEVER EVER EVER WEAR JEANS, DENIM, OR PLAID.
Pro tip: Stick to the basics: wear a plain white button up collared shirt, and black, blue, or charcoal bottoms. And ladies, please refrain from gaudy jewelry and stilettos. You’re going on an interview… not the club.
8. Leave your ego at the door. You’re not awesome, you’re not cool, you’re not amazing. You’re another name on a resume that they spent 15 seconds looking at. Of course, you know you’re great, but you should NEVER display arrogance during an interview. Remain humble and answer all questions concisely. Remember, you are at the bottom of the barrel in your professional career. You deserve NOTHING and you must work for EVERYTHING.
9. Know yourself well. Make sure you know every responsibility you ever had, and make sure you can talk about it. Don’t ramble and don’t repeat your resume word-for-word, but make sure you can express yourself convincingly. But like I said previously, don’t appear arrogant…. just exude confidence.
Pro-tip: Practice a 1-2 sentence pitch per previous job held, and a 1-2 sentence summary about what you learned there, and how you’ll utilize those skills in your new employment.
10. Don’t get too comfortable. No matter how colloquial the interview is going, refrain from cursing, slouching, etc. An employer may ask what you do for fun… don’t say get wasted with your frat bros every weekend. Say something wholesome like “exercise,” “dance,” or “cook.” Sometimes employers ask you certain questions or behave in a certain way to catch you off guard. They want to see how well you withstand pressure. Don’t take the bait.
11. Make sure your phone is on vibrate. Leave it in your bag. Resist the urge to check your Twitter when your potential employer is asking you why they should hire you. If your phone does ring, apologize profusely, calmly shut it off, and place it back in your bag. Don’t EVER take the call, unless you know for a fact that it’s a serious emergency.
12. Ask questions during your interview. At the end of the interview, the employer will offer you time to ask questions. Make sure you have at least two questions prepared. It doesn’t matter if you already know the answer… the employer wants to ensure that you’ve been paying attention, are actively listening, and are actually interested in the position.
13. ….and finally…. DON’T EVER BRING YOUR PARENTS TO AN INTERVIEW!!!! Don’t list them as references and do not have them advocate on your behalf. They shouldn’t be sending emails for you. Like seriously. You’re trying to impress your potential employers with your professionalism and maturity… having mom wipe your nose during an interview DEFINITELY contradicts that image.
Pro tip: Ignore if your mom is Claire Huxtable!
These are just some basic tips, and I have a bunch more. I may post in the future. For now, read these words carefully and apply them to your employment search. I promise I’ll never steer you wrong!