Millennials are the demographic born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. If you fall into that category, you are going to come across some disadvantages when it comes to getting a job. While these roadblocks are not applicable to every candidate, and are certainly not impossible to overcome, they are going to make your job search more difficult than the Gen Xers you’ll be competing with. Here are some of the struggles you can expect to face.
1. Older generations may have a bad impression of you
Most millennials are like every other age group of job seekers: hardworking, driven, and ready to knuckle down and have a positive impact on the company that hires them. Sadly, millennials have gotten a pretty bad rap over the years, tainted by the actions of a few. Words like “entitlement” and “opinionated” are bandied about, and it is having a negative impact on those looking for work. In particular, older generations, most of whom are doing the hiring, have bought into those stereotypes.
For example, in a Daily Mail article published earlier this year, some bosses and hiring managers complained about a workforce made up of young people that are “spoiled, full of themselves, averse to hard work, and expect ‘success on a plate.'” Sadly, articles like these are a dime a dozen.
These blanket statements, of course, are simply not true. There are selfish, entitled people of every age and background — but in the case of millennials, it can be a hard perception to shake off. Millennials will have to overcome these preconceived notions and prove they’re every bit as determined as their peers. (See also: 5 Ways Millennials Can Become Bosses Sooner)
2. Student loans can leave you desperate
Let’s talk about student loans and crippling debt. The average student in the class of 2016 graduated with $37,172 in student loan debt. According to the New York Federal Reserve, in the U.S. alone, there are over 44 million borrowers that have amassed over $1.3 trillion in student loans — and this number continues to grow as the cost of higher education skyrockets.
This is a massive liability, especially when you consider that in 1990 the average student loan debt was just $12,110. What’s more, in that time median wages have basically flatlined — rising from $42,342 in 1990 to just $43,000 in 2016, according to the New York Federal Reserve. That’s a 1.6 percent pay raise and a whopping 163.8 percent debt raise.
As a millennial, you are facing the very likely possibility that you’ll be stuck with this debt for decades. For this reason, finding work becomes nothing short of desperation. College graduates are taking jobs well below their education and skill level simply because it’s better to have a low paying job than none at all. And this can lead to a vicious cycle of low level gigs, standing at the foot of a ladder that looks impossible to climb. No other generation has had to start their careers with this kind of burden. (See also: 7 Unique Ways Millennials Are Dealing With Student Loan Debt)
3. Technology has its disadvantages
Millennials were born into a world of rapidly advancing technology, and for the most part, they are very comfortable interacting with it. That can be positive in many ways, and it can certainly help in their job search. But this reliance on technology can also lead to some social issues that may hamper a job interview process. Namely, millennials aren’t as accustomed to talking on the phone or sitting down face to face as older generations.
Many millennials would much rather communicate through text, instant messenger apps, emails, and social media posts than through traditional voice and in-person methods. These preferences can impact a candidate’s chances during phone or face to face interviews. To be sure, many millennials are comfortable with and perfectly capable of acing a phone or in-person interview. But for others, this can be an obvious struggle. (See also: 59 Tips to Help You Nail That Job Interview)
4. There hasn’t been enough time to establish great credit
In some countries, no news is good news when it comes to a credit history. As long as you have a good salary, a stable family life, and are current on loans and other debts, you’re good to go. But in the U.S. it takes time to build great credit and get a credit score above the magic 700 number. Unfortunately for millennials, they haven’t had that kind of time. Millennials are also less likely to want credit cards and large financial obligations, which further hampers their ability to build credit.
Indeed, the 2008 crash, coupled with the increase of student loan debt, has made many millennials wary of getting into any kind of debt at all. But employers these days are getting thorough on background checks, and a low or nonexistent credit score can be a black mark against a candidate. (See also: Best Credit Cards for Millennials)
5. Education is no match for experience
There’s a scene in The Secret of My Success that sums up this problem to a tee. Michael J. Fox’s character applies for a job and says, “I was trained in college to handle a job like this, so in a sense I already have experience.” The interviewer replies, “What you’ve got is college experience, not the practical hard-nosed business experience we’re looking for.”
This is a problem that millennials run into often. They have an education and a few years in the field, but not enough to match the candidates that have a solid 10+ years of business experience under their belts. Plus, more and more employers are placing way more emphasis on work experience than a college degree. (See also: 7 Things Successful Millennials Do)