Career Q&A: Job Advice, Millennials and Asking for Feedback

Welcome to Career Q&A, where I answer workplace questions submitted by professionals just like you. 

Gen X Insurance Leader Wonders Why it’s so Important to Hire Millennials 

I’m a Gen Xer and I work in the insurance industry. Recently, in a company-wide town hall, our CEO said that in order for the company to grow, we needed to focus more on recruiting Millennials to the insurance business. We have been recruiting young people for years. Why are Millennials so different and supposedly so important? 

Thank you for raising a question that is on the minds of many business leaders across industries. 

Millennials are probably the most written about, the most stereotyped, the most obsessed-over of any generation in history. It can be hard to make sense of it all.

That said, the Millennial generation is tremendously important to the workplace and the overall economy for several reasons. I’ll focus on two right now.

Number one is just plain size. Millennials are officially the largest generation in the United States overall and the largest generation in the U.S. workplace as of 2016. 

This means that by 2025, millennials are predicted to be 75% of the workforce, and if you don’t care about hiring, attracting and retaining millennials, you simply won’t have a workforce in the future. 

Another reason Millennials matter is diversity of thought. If your company keeps turning to the same people all the time, you’re going to keep getting the same ideas. 

If your insurance company is serving multiple generations of clients and customers, then you need multiple generations of employees to best understand those markets. 

You need to innovate to stay competitive. You need fresh, diverse perspectives and that includes age diversity.

So, bottom line, a company should care about Millennials because they are the largest generation in the workplace and they diversify an organization’s thinking.  

College Student Needs to Focus on Graduating Without Cutting Ties to Potential Job Leads

Hi Lindsey, I’m a senior in college. As I get closer and closer to graduation, I’ve had a lot of family friends reach out and offer me help with my career. I’m really thankful, but I’m trying to buckle down and get good grades in my final year. In six months, I know I’ll want their help. 

What’s the best way to keep in touch and reengage with them when I actually do need their help?

The quick answer: this is why LinkedIn exists! LinkedIn is perfect for managing passive, early relationships. Connect on LinkedIn with anyone who offers to help you. Maybe send a brief message to thank them for their offer of support and then follow them by watching their activity in your newsfeed. If they post something, just click like or comment to passively keep in touch.  

Then when you’re ready to reach out to take them up on their offer of support, you can look for a hook in their LinkedIn presence so that you have a reason to reach out. 

Make sure that you show people you really want a relationship and you’re not just in it for yourself. Even if you haven’t been following them passively on LinkedIn, I would always check them out on LinkedIn and other social media before reaching out for advice or help. Talk about their work and career before you start to talk about yourself. 

The key is asking for their advice and guidance only. Don’t ask for too much in your first outreach. Focus on the relationship, not the outcome. The rest will follow. Good luck!

Media Professional is Frustrated by His Boss’ Lack of Feedback

I’m a marketing professional who gets to work with a wide variety of niche clients. I love what I do! There’s no better feeling than pulling off a successful branding campaign.

But being young in my career, I know I have room to improve. I want to ask my manager for feedback, but she’s really busy and has her favorites (not me). Honestly, I feel like she doesn’t like me at all. 

What’s the best way to ask for feedback from a manager who is not giving enough?

The first thing I would say is that it’s your job as an employee to become the world’s leading expert on your manager and his or her style. You have to take responsibility for your relationship with your boss, and that’s really surprising to a lot of people. 

People think that the manager’s job is to manage you, but this relationship is too important to your career success for you to hope for the best. Instead, observe and study how your boss likes to give feedback. 

Does he or she like to meet in person? Give a lot or a little feedback? Prefer written feedback? Not give much feedback at all? All of that needs to be something that you’re aware of so that you’re not seeking something that this person simply is never going to give you. 

When you’ve learned how to ask for feedback from this particular manager, be very specific and offer your own assessment first. It’s much easier for a manager to react to something that you’ve created than to start from scratch. It’s like the difference between editing a document versus starting from a blank piece of paper. 

For example, let’s say you’re asking for feedback on a presentation that you’ve recently given. You might jot down some bullet points or notes and say, “I think I spoke clearly. I think I answered the questions from the audience, but I think I could have organized the content a little bit better. What do you think?” 

And that gives your manager something to react to and they can agree with you or disagree with you, but they don’t have to jog their memory for every detail of your presentation, especially if they had no idea that you were going to ask for feedback on it. 

In general, the more specific the questions you ask, the more specific the answers and feedback you’ll receive. 

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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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