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How to Dispel Stereotypes as a Gen-Y Applicant

By Kristine Penning, Creative Marketing Specialist


Generation Y. Millennials. We’re an interesting demographic emerging in the workforce. We come with preconceived notions and stereotypes, not all of which are good. So what if you’re entering the working world and you find yourself being questioned about your quality as an employee because of your young age?


As a millennial who often hides from the term, it always gets my goat when I see articles written by authors as young as Generation X’ers complaining about the negative labels we often get stuck with. If you find yourself searching for a job or in a new job and come across employers or coworkers who misunderstand you because of the generation you come from, here are a few ways to prove yourself:



Turn “Entitlement/Disrespect” into Ambition:

One stigma associated with millennials is that we come attached with a sense of entitlement. Our parents grew up in a time where only the winners received recognition of achievement, whereas we were rewarded for simply being participants. We grew up with someone always telling us that we were special. This leads many older generations to assume we are delusional in thinking that we deserve praise and that we are superior to others.


To disprove this notion, it’s important to be your most ambitious, open and courteous self. Go out of your way to show that you are polite and conscious of others. For example, don’t take the best parking spot in the lot, but save it for your superiors. Also prove that you can also handle constructive criticism and use it to improve yourself. Millennials, like everyone else, are largely imperfect. Just remember that when you receive critical feedback that you rise above it and work to become better instead of thinking, “It’s not me, it’s them.”



Turn “Laziness/Short Attention Span” into Efficiency:

The reason that employers might view Gen Y’ers as lazy on the surface is because they appear to get things done quickly. The reason for this is because our generation has adapted to the “Work smarter, not harder,” idea by multitasking and discovering the quickest way to accomplish duties. Some millennials, however (and I’m guilty in this aspect at times), will resort to social networking and surfing the Internet if tasks are completed quickly.


The key to proving that you are not, in fact, lazy is to prove yourself to be not only efficient but a self-starter who can create or devise new tasks to work toward. If you finish a task quickly, brainstorm new ideas and strategies for your company or workplace. Prove that you can accomplish more in a shorter amount of time.



Turn “Poor Work Ethic” into Understanding

In a past internship experience, I ran into an unspoken issue with my supervisor, because I would always leave at quitting time on the dot and would often enjoy my lunch break by taking a walk or running an errand. I soon realized it was an unwritten cultural norm in that workplace to stay late to work and to work through your lunch.


Gen Y’ers value their work-life balance and want a fun, meaningful atmosphere to work in. They value compensation less and fulfillment more. Therefore, it’s important to discuss workplace expectations with your boss: is quitting time really quitting time? This will help you understand what is expected of you as an employee. You also have the opportunity to discuss flexibility. Your supervisor will appreciate it if you’re on the same page, and you are then able to prove your willingness by meeting his or her expectations.



Turn “Poor Communication” into “Actively Listening”

It’s been said that millennials are poor communicators. This is hardly the case: we just communicate differently. We are the first generation to communicate broadly through technology. We have been writing more than any generation previously has through constant digital communication. It has also often been said, however, that Gen Y’ers prefer to email than to talk via phone or face-to-face.


To disprove these notions, make a point to put aside your preference of communicating via instant messaging and engage with clients or coworkers on a personal level. You don’t have to do all the talking, either. By actively listening and asking important questions, you can prove yourself when you uncover key information that can lead to new ideas and initiatives within your workplace.