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Digitally-native Millennials are the next driving force in change around the world. Nearly 80 million strong, a few Millennials are already household names. But this same group of rising stars must earn the trust of Gen Xers and Boomers before taking the reins of the business world.
I started writing this blog post about a week before Cathryn Sloane’s widely shared and highly contentious article was published. Her piece entitled, “Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25″ is not required reading to enjoy this article, but the polarizing title and the ensuing comments highlight the digital struggle Millennials face every day between doing the thing that feels good right now and doing the right thing to move forward in a career.
I have been watching our generation (yes, I’m a Millennial) progress in responsibility over the last five years. Running a company where the average age is 26 has also given me some insight into the things Millennials do to advance their careers and the things they do to self-sabotage.
10. Blindly trusting social media outlets with sensitive information
The inherent trust our generation places in social media outlets is simply careless. As global organizations understand how to integrate social intelligence into their lumbering business models Millennials are setting themselves up for big problems. Everyone from Presidential candidates to entry level applicants are facing unprecedented levels of digital scrutiny. With the stakes so high should Millennials really be posting about medical conditions, party pictures and risque links? Many smart people have already written about this topic and as time marches onward it becomes more relevant.
9. Staying inside geographic comfort zones
Seek job opportunities in a new and unfamiliar city where meaningful careers are more numerous and prospective mentors are more plentiful. Use your network (real world or virtual) to help you get there and commit to staying for at least one year once you arrive. Crash on a couch, use mass transit and eat ramen noodles. It won’t be fun but it will be enlightening and dramatically increase the odds of securing a career at the forefront of any industry.
8. Avoiding risk without parental buy-in
Some of the most disappointing examples of Millennial self-sabotage occur when otherwise bright young job candidates respond to tough questions with, “I want to ask my parents before I respond to that.” It sounds ridiculous, but I have received that response word for word in business situations at least three times in the last year. Our generation seems to have trouble making tough calls without buy-in from authority figures. It should be noted that we all look to our elders for advice and there’s nothing wrong with that (see 5 below). I’m thinking about requiring a permission slip before the interview process.
7. Refusing to play the political game
Attitude, appearance and the words we use matter. Choose them carefully and deliberately for the task at hand. Even trendy tech companies reward the people who understand how to navigate sensitive political waters, as much as they would like to project otherwise. Disruptors, renegades and change agents still have to play ball in the business world. And that means putting positive, can-do energy on display each and every day, going the extra mile for the client or customer and openly giving credit where credit is due. Arrogance and Millennial knowitalism - especially when discussing technology – should be thrown out the window.