If you are under the age of 30, your manager probably doesn’t think very much of you. More than two-thirds of Gen Y, Gen X and Boomers believe millennials are “entitled,” while roughly half of managers think younger workers have a poor work ethic, are easily distracted and have unrealistic compensation expectations, according to new studies from Big Four accounting firm EY and American Express/Millennial Branding, respectively. Ouch.
Defending yourself against the stereotype of youth – and thus positioning yourself to be promoted – takes serious strategic effort. Dan Schawbel, a Gen Y career and workplace expert and the founder of Millennial Branding, tackles this battle in his new book, “Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success.” He spoke in New York this week and mentioned a few ways millennials can distance themselves from the pack of entitled twenty-somethings by building their personal brand. Here are a few key takeaways.
Become a Subject Matter Expert
Getting ahead in organizations, particularly large ones like banks and accounting firms, requires visibility, Schawbel stressed. There is no better way to demonstrate value than by having co-workers and managers come to you as the voice of expertise on a particular issue, no matter how small. It shows career ownership and, at the very least, ensures job security. Commanding a piece of technology is one easy way.
Become an Intrepreneur
Identify a problem within your organization or group and put in the hours to come up with an innovative solution, Schawbel said. Pitch the idea to your boss and own the initiative. The majority of managers surveyed by American Express/Millennial Branding want millennials to take on challenges outside of their job description, but few do.
Build a (Smart) New Media Presence
LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Quora, personal blogs and company chat rooms are great ways to build your brand and gain visibility both inside and outside of your organization. Transparency has been all but eliminated, Schawbel said, so understand that these platforms have matured into professional tools, not personal ones. Build your online brand aggressively, but do so with your career in mind.
Networking is, in essence, a selfish endeavor. Turn the tables by helping first with no thought of asking for anything. When the time comes to switch jobs or in need of an introduction, you’ll be well situated. Too often younger people are playing catch-up.
Show Your Face Outside of the Office
Charities, industry events and networking functions are key forums to building your brand. Don’t just attend them – take part in them.
Embrace Face Time
Not the software – the real thing. Millennials often fail to recognize how other generations prefer to communicate, leading to the perception of entitlement, Schawbel said. Two-thirds of managers still prefer in-person meetings, according to the American Express/Millennial Branding survey. Put down the phone and forget about email. Again, a huge visibility generator.
Below we’ve included an easy brand-building cheat sheet put together by Charles Moldenhauer, founder of New York-based Executive Transitioning, a career coaching firm focusing on C-level executives and senior managers. It’s designed for clients of all generations. How would you do?
Within the past month have I?
Published a blog or article___
Been featured in a media article or TV news story___
Presented at an industry event___
Participated in a committee or charity event___
Talked to people two levels above my level___
Prepared my content (resume, LinkedIn, alumni, etc.) so it is integrated___
Had 10 LinkedIn views last week___
Over the past year have I?
Received professional recognition or an award___
Prepared a written plan for becoming better known___
Identified my blind spots and weaknesses___
Written my professional value proposition___
10 or more – Perfect
6 -9 – Excellent. What more can you do?
4 -5- Average.
3 or less - You need to get started