In a survey of millennials and hiring managers commissioned by Elance-oDesk and Millennial Branding, Jaleh Bisharat, Elance-oDesk senior vice president of marketing, and Dan Schawbel, Millennial Branding managing partner, showcase how professionals can thrive as millennials tip the scales as the largest workforce generation next year.
Bisharat and Schawbel offered the following analysis and suggestions for succeeding in the workforce:
1. Focus on hard skills. “A majority of hiring managers (55 percent) revealed they prioritize hard skills over personality (21%) when hiring,” Bisharat notes. “With the rapidly changing tech landscape and a persisting skills gap, it is more important than ever for businesses to find people with the specific skills they need to deliver results.”
Employers will appreciate your efforts. “Whether you’re a millennial or a more seasoned professional, there’s no excuse not to keep up to date on skills relevant in your field,” Schawbel adds. “With free and low-cost online learning platforms like Coursera and Lynda boasting courses ranging from Photoshop for beginners to the ins and outs of Bitcoin, a world’s worth of hard skills are at your fingertips.”
2. Be the change you want to see. Millennials are known for innovation. The survey notes that hiring managers believe millennials are open to change (72 percent), creative (66 percent) and adaptable (65 percent) – far outranking their Gen X counterparts for these desirable traits.
“Many companies still run up against the digital divide and shrink from pushing past the old way of doing things. That’s why, if you’re a millennial, you should play up your unique ‘digital native’ talents (real and perceived) to spur innovation on your teams,” Schawbel says. “Companies are hungry for new ideas, and while millennials are champions of change, all professionals should strive for adaptability.”
3. Prove you’re a team player. While they appreciate seeing specific “hard” skills on résumés, more and more employers are considering the work culture they wish to develop and seeking team players to create it. “Although millennials are seen as providing critical advantages thanks to their fresh thinking and entrepreneurialism, findings of our study showed that, when asked which generation was more likely to be team players, only 27 percent of hiring managers chose millennials rather than Gen X,” Bisharat explains. “This perception, whether reality or not, is a demerit that can slow career growth. If you’re a member of this youngest generation of professionals, make sure to develop teamwork skills to prove this impression wrong. If you’re a more established professional, be open to working closely with and mentoring millennials.”
4. Stand out as a “loyalist.” No doubt, employer loyalty is waning with good reason. All employees are realizing that they cannot count on a corporate entity to return the favor. Despite this, it’s helpful to be able to tap into your passion and interest for an organization. “Simply showing you are dedicated can help you build trust with your team and organization,” Schawbel says. “With 58 percent of millennials reporting they expect to be in their job fewer than three years, displays of loyalty will certainly nudge employers to invest in your professional future.”
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5. Consider alternative paths. While it’s great to be able to articulate and demonstrate your interest in a particular company, facts are facts. The majority of employees will not be able to expect to stay in one job for many years, and being agile and flexible enough to shift – even to an entrepreneurial path – will be key to success for many workers.
“Even if you venture out on your own, you will never be successful without involving others.” Bisharat explains. “Sara Horowitz, founder of Freelancers Union, believes freelancing is all about networking. She says, ‘Freelancing successfully means building a network to line up new gigs, passing assignments to others when things are busy and getting referrals from friends when they’re not.’ You never know when these connections will turn into opportunities down the road.”
Originally appeared on U.S. News & World Report.