A lot gets said about Millennials in the workplace. It seems like every week, there’s a new article chastising them for being too loud, brash or entitled in the office. In my experience, Millennials definitely have a more casual approach than other generations, but it’s also fair to say that we’re in a changing world where there are all sorts of different workplaces. That said, a casual approach can be a problem when it comes to interviewing, or settling into a new role. If you wear the wrong thing to an interview or come across in the wrong way on your first day, you can cost yourself some great job opportunities. So, here are a few tips from me about how to make sure you always leave the best impression.
This is a crucially important point when you’re looking for a job, and yet so many people (regardless of generation!) seem to let it slide. Doing your research when you’re looking at a company is key to finding out whether or not you’re going to enjoy your time there. There’s so much you can learn about an organisation just from doing the basics; look at their website; look at their social channels or ask your recruiter about what the organisation is like.
These simple steps can save you a significant amount of stress and time later on, as it can give you an idea of which opportunities to pursue and which not to. If for some reason, you end up joining a company that isn’t for you, you’ll realise quickly that you’ve made a mistake. Sooner rather than later you’ll come to a crossroads where you either choose to move on, or remain in a job that isn’t the right fit for you.
First Impressions Count
There’s a saying that most interviewers make their mind up on a candidate within 10 seconds of meeting them. Now, I think that’s a bit of a stretch, but that’s not to say that first impressions aren’t important! The first impression you give at an interview sets the tone for the rest of the meeting. If you turn up late, or not meeting the employer’s dress code, you’ll send the message that you don’t value the employer’s time or standards – even if you do genuinely want the job!
Dress code in IT can vary from employer to employer; some organisations have the famous “funky start-up” culture, whereas others are more old school. In any case, you should dress to impress. If you’re not sure what to wear, business casual is generally a winner in most environments, unless it’s a high-level business or management position.
Punctuality is also key, but striking a balance is crucial. It might be tempting to arrive 20 minutes early, but sometimes this can be just as bad as turning up late. Your best bet is to arrive between five and ten minutes early, giving you enough time to take a seat and collect yourself, but not leaving you waiting for too long. If you’re driving, ensure you have accounted for traffic (which can be a serious problem in Auckland!) and if you’re taking public transport, leave a touch earlier so that any minor delays won’t have a big impact. If you end up arriving too early, it’s always a good idea before you check in, to grab a coffee, go over the job requirements once again and prepare yourself for the upcoming interview.
And one more thing; although you are being assessed in the interview, this is also your chance to assess the employer. If it doesn’t look like the kind of workplace where you’d thrive, you’re probably better off not accepting if they put an offer forward. Before you make a decision, you might want to check out our blog to see if the company culture is right for you.
Make the Most of Learning Opportunities
I know what it’s like to be a young, hungry, go-getter in a new workplace. It’s natural to want to prove yourself and your worth to your employer so you can move quickly from challenge to challenge. However, to some other employees, especially those who have been there a long time, this exuberance can be grating if you’re not taking the time to master each challenge first. Though I’m not saying that problems are inevitable (most people in most workplaces are great!), it’s still important to keep on people’s good sides, especially if these people have experience and skills that you can learn from, and can be a great resource for you.
Although intergenerational communication can come with its challenges, recognising learning opportunities and taking advantage of them where you can, will reflect well on you. Your new colleagues can help you get to grips with the systems you’re going to be using, as well as the spoken and unspoken rules of the office. Another thing to remember is that learning isn’t a one-way street! With Millennials growing up in a world fuelled by technology and surrounded by diversity, there’s plenty of wisdom that you can impart on others too.
In today’s world, especially in the tech industry, the line between work and life is starting to blur, and the idea of what is and isn’t professional is becoming more and more of a grey area. This is the world that Millennials have grown up in, and in fairness, many organisations would do well to keep that in mind when looking for young talent! That said, there are a few ways that you can tell whether you’re going to fit into a workplace, and a few old traditions that you’re probably better off following – and that goes for anybody in any generation.
If you’re looking for more advice on your IT job search, feel free to get in touch.