The #1 Millennial Career Advantage

As we enter fall recruiting season on college campuses, many students are concerned about how to position themselves for jobs in the continuingly dismal job market.

To stand out in this economy, everyone needs an angle (or three…or four…). But there is an angle that I think many Millennials overlook, perhaps because it feels so natural to them. In my opinion, the #1 advantage Millennials offer employers is that they are digital natives.

As defined on Wikipedia, a digital native is “a person who was born during or after the general introduction of digital technology, and through interacting with digital technology from an early age, has a greater understanding of its concepts.” (Check out PBS Frontline’s excellent special on this topic.) In other words, if you clicked a mouse before you read a book, you’re a digital native.

I’m not talking here about coding ability, HTML5 design or any other specific technical skill. I’m talking about the overall instinct to use technology to solve challenges and create opportunities. This is a highly valuable career advantage and one that Millennials don’t exploit enough when applying for jobs.

If you’re a young professional, here are some ideas for using your status as a digital native to your advantage:

• Promote your social media knowledge. Many Gen Ys are shocked when I recommend including social media skills on their resumes or LinkedIn profiles. The reality is that everyone doesn’t know how to use Twitter and many employers (especially small business owners) will pay someone to do this. If you consider yourself an expert designer of Facebook fan pages, a super-Tweeter (including using all of the myriad Twitter-related sites like HootSuite and TweetDeck) or you’ve been posting videos to YouTube for years, then this expertise should appear as a skill on your resume and LinkedIn profile.

• Demonstrate the ability to tap your online networks. Many companies today are obsessed with crowdsourcing, a skill that most Millennials possess innately. For instance, if you want to be a journalist, editor or TV producer, you should market your ability to quickly tap your online networks for referrals to sources, information and ideas. This is also a valuable skill for aspiring marketers, recruiters and fundraisers.

• Emphasize your self-sufficiency. While Millennials do require a lot of feedback from employers, what you don’t require is a lot of tech support. According to new research from Bomgar and GigaOm Pro, “Millennials initially seek outside sources to solve their own technology problems versus immediately turning to the IT department when something goes awry. Sixty-one percent said they don’t go to company support first, and the majority (71 percent) had searched for an answer on Google at least once.”

• Market your mobility. Everyone is talking about mobile marketing these days, so if you’re especially good at finding apps for your phone, or — better yet — designing apps, be sure to make this known. Since mobile marketing is still a relatively new field, your natural abilities can stand out when companies are looking to build their mobile strategies. But they won’t know you can do this unless you tell them.

If the above tips resonate with you, be sure to add these digital native skills to your resume and to the “Skills” section of your LinkedIn profile (check out this article from Mashable on how to do that).

What other digital native traits are valuable to employers and overlooked by Gen Ys who possess them? Please share your comments!

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Lindsey is a globally recognized career and workplace expert and the leading voice on generational diversity. She has spoken for more than 300 audiences including Google, Goldman Sachs, Estee Lauder, Stanford and Wharton. Lindsey is the author of four career and workplace advice books, and her insights have appeared in media outlets including The TODAY Show, CNBC, NPR, the Harvard Business Review and the Wall Street Journal.


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