Gen Wise Perspective

Gen Y's perspective (pun intended) on our journey through work, life, and everything in between.

Archive for the category “Gen Y”

What do I look for in job applicants?

I usually speak in PR/communications classes at my alma mater Loyola Chicago at least once a semester, and I ALWAYS get asked about what I look for in candidates that apply for a job. As someone who was on the other side of the interviewer-interviewee relationship not that long ago, I’d like to provide some perspective to those who wonder about what makes a candidate stand out.

I’d like to preface this post by saying that this is entirely my opinion on what I value/look for when I want to hire someone. I’ve had this conversation with coworkers and I know they have different points of view. All I can tell you is what I seek when hiring for my own team.

The Cover Letter

I’m going to be bluntly honest here: Keep it on the shorter side. I want you to be able to tell me why you’re the right person for this job in a concise way. Chances are I’ll stop reading if it goes on to the second page.

You also don’t need to reiterate what’s already on your resume. Use an anecdote—tell me some kind of story about yourself that puts who you are into context. Everyone’s resume starts to look the same after a while. Your cover letter is how you stand out.

Most importantly, do NOT just use a template and fill in the blanks. It’s extremely obvious. Yes, I know you’re looking for more than one job and it takes a long time to tailor your cover letter to each position you apply for. But that’s how you show you really want this job and not just a job. It also shows me that you’re capable of tailoring your pitches to the media, which is going to be a large part of your job if you were to get hired.

The Resume

Make it clean and as easy to scan as possible. Avoid being too wordy, but be specific about what you did at previous jobs. I’d prefer to see an actual example of a campaign you worked on instead of a list of the generic tasks you completed.

Emphasize your experience that’s most relevant to the job you’re applying for. It might not have been your most recent job, but it should be the most detailed section. Keep in mind that we need to assess whether you can do this job. While your marketing research experience is great, I’m hiring you for a PR (heavily media relations focused) position. Another example would be to include any agency experience you have—this is a PR agency so you’ll work on multiple clients. If you’ve done that before (even in advertising or marketing), please make sure we know.

One thing for the recent grads (or those about to graduate): don’t include coursework on your resume. Your major speaks for itself. If you emphasize coursework it tells me that you haven’t done anything outside of school. At the same time, if you worked on an actual “client” in class then you should include that on your resume. I recommend including it as “special projects” or in another category where you can show that you were able to execute a campaign on behalf of a client. That is a valuable skill to have.

The Interview

This might scare you (and I don’t mean for it to), but I can tell if I want to hire you within the first five minutes of an interview. There’s just something that screams “yes, this person is a fit!”

But even beyond those first five minutes, these are usually the qualities that make me want to hire someone:

  • You’re personable
  • You look professional
  • You can converse with me as an equal (even if we’re just introducing ourselves and talking about the weather)
  • You’re confident
  • You’re ready to talk about your experience without staring down at your resume in front of you
  • You clearly did your homework on the company beyond just scanning the website
  • You have stories and/or anecdotes about past jobs with specific examples. For instance, a candidate we just hired gave specific examples about how he was tasked with coming up with a story idea for a very dry B2B client. He told us the situation, how he solved it, and what the outcome was
  • Anyone who can cite specific successes (i.e. I worked on X account and we did Y, Z with them, which resulted in ____)
  • You can tell us about various news outlets and blogs that you read on a regular basis (it’s not helpful when someone says “oh, I read whatever comes up on my homepage” because we expect you to be a news junkie)
  • You ask lots of questions about the agency, as well as the specific job/team you’re going to be hired to work on
  • The “Q&A” part of the interview turns into a conversation vs. you asking random questions and not giving any feedback once you get an answer from us

The Follow Up

This one is simple. Always send a follow-up email within a day. It doesn’t have to be lengthy, but it just shows you’re capable of following up (a very important skill in PR) and that you care about this job.

Personally, I don’t care whether you send a cute card in the mail or just send an email. I’m a believer in “it’s the thought that counts” with the follow-up. Why do I say that? Because if I really want you for this job, I’m not going to give it to someone else because they sent me a handwritten card and you wrote an email. Just sayin’.

So, I hope that helps provide some perspective on applying for a job. Please feel free to leave additional questions in the comments section. I promise I’ll answer them as honestly as possible.

How has Steve Jobs changed your life?

Three hundred and seventeen.

That’s the amount of patents that Steven Jobs has been listed on as an inventor for Apple products. As everyone knows, the man who truly changed the way we live our lives lost his battle with cancer on Tuesday.

As I sat on my morning train today, I glanced around to see that over half the passengers had ipods in. One guy was reading an article on his iPad. Numerous Mac Books were on and in use. It made me think about life. About how precious it truly is. And how one man pioneered a company to greatness and every single person on my train was affected by his work.

There are plenty of people out there who inspire me, make me think, challenge me, and keep me questioning things for the better. He is one of them.

Steve Jobs makes me want to do better. To try harder. To not give up because I think something is a dumb idea. To constantly be curious.  He defined innovation for me. He taught me that you can do anything you set your mind to.

The reason I am writing this post is to remind you of that. It’s really easy to get wrapped up in your work. To just keep going through the days doing the same routine. Same process, same results. I urge you to be a little bit more like Steve Jobs. Don’t just do your job to do it. Do work that makes you want to change the world.

Three hundred and seventeen patents. What will you invent?

image via unmarketing

Where have we been all summer?

If you look at the archives of this blog, you’ll notice that we’ve been quiet since June. Ooooh we broke a cardinal rule of blogging!

I’m kidding. But there’s an actual reason behind this hiatus: We had nothing to blog about.

Kim and I were heavy on blogging about social media, but after a while it seemed like we were saying the same thing over and over. And you know what? That’s what it seemed like everyone else was doing too. Guaranteed if you go look at blog of a social media “guru,” you will find a post written in 2011 that is almost the same thing they said in 2009.

That’s not really our purpose here. We’re not blogging for business or to make money, so we don’t have to adhere to a frequency of posts. We also don’t have an audience who relies on us for our advice. That is the end goal, of course, but in order to get there we need to change it up.

Welcome to the new Gen Wise Perspective. It’s still our voice and our Gen Y point of view, but we’re going to focus on the things we live and breathe every day: challenges in the workplace, new obstacles we must overcome with clients, things we learned the hard way, controversies, differences in opinion based on age, major shifts in society, people/actions that inspire use…basically anything that significantly impacts us in some way.

We hope you’ll find value in what we have to say. That “value” is completely up to you…we just hope you don’t leave wondering why you wasted a few minutes reading anything we had to say.

Stay tuned for more posts to come. We’re back!

What are common misconceptions about Gen Y employees? (Pt. 2)

A few days ago I shared a Q&A on the misconceptions of Gen Y employees from someone who manages them. In my attempt to prove a point, I asked a few people the same list of questions.

We now have part two of the series. This Q&A was answered by Angelica Colantuoni. Angelica is currently the VP of Digital at Weber Shandwick in Chicago, and allegedly a reader of Gen Wise Perspective (I’m still not convinced anyone but my mom and Kim read this blog).

So what did Angelica have to say?

1. Does age affect your decision when hiring employees?

Not at all.

2. Do you base an employee’s job role/position on their age?

No.

3. Do you consider someone at a “junior level” less competent than those at a “senior level”?

Not at all. Everyone’s different and brings different strengths to the table regardless if you are junior or senior.

4. What is your overall opinion on age as it relates to an employee’s capabilities/performance?

My overall opinion is that age doesn’t necessarily equal maturity. Lately, I’ve seen more signs of immaturity in those with years and years of experience than I have with people who are just starting their careers.

5. Are there things you think younger generations excel at over others?

I still think that this is an individual thing rather than a sweeping generalization that millenials are more digitally savvy (for example.) We’re all individuals and we all excel in different areas….this isn’t based on age.

6. What is the biggest difference in managing Gen Y employees over others?

From my experience, it’s the desire to get promoted at lightning speed. We all want to get promoted and I suffered from that a bit too as I was starting out but it seems the time frame has gotten shorter as to when they want to get promoted to the next level.

7. is an advantage to assigning junior level employees to projects over senior level employees?

I don’t see an advantage one way or another. Whoever is going to have a smile on their face and make me laugh as we do the assignment together is who I would gravitate towards.

8. What is the number one thing you would say that junior level employees can learn from senior level execs?

Curiosity. I think the most successful execs out there have a natural sense of curiosity…for news, trends, business, etc…This makes your career and life much more satisfying.

9. What surprises you the most about your junior level employees?

I would have to agree with Gini on this one. I’m always surprised on their dependence/relationship with their parents for help with decisions. I’ve seen parents get involved in some reviews because they weren’t happy with the feedback that they received. That’s just crazy to me.

10. Anything else to add on this overall topic? A personal experience you’ve had?

I don’t have one personal experience to share but overall I think it’s all based on personalities and work ethics. I’ve found lately that I tend to have a better working relationship with those that can have fun at their job and not take themselves too seriously whether or not you are 23 or 63. And, honestly, there are very immature and self-absorbed senior level execs out there that take themselves way too seriously. They could take a lesson or two from some Gen Y employees…..

 

And yet again we see it’s about “personalities and work ethics,” rather than age itself. Yes, Gen Y clearly has some flaws (doesn’t everyone?) but they aren’t necessarily ones that make us incapable of performing a job well.

Stay tuned for parts 3 and 4 of this series. I’d love to hear anyone’s thoughts on the subject, so please feel free to share them in the comments.

Also, if you’re feeling ambitious about answering all of these and would like to get involved, just let me know and we’ll extend this into a longer series 🙂

What are common misconceptions about Gen Y employees? (Pt. 1)

Kim and I have posted before about work ethic as it relates to age. The topic is part of what inspired us to start this blog. I think there are many misconceptions about Gen Y as a whole, particularly when it comes to how we behave in the workforce.

Recently,  I’ve encountered this firsthand. Although we might be just as competent (if not more so) than employees that are older than us, we’re still judged immediately because we look like junior level employees. Often times there’s the complaint that a client is going to “get handed off to a junior level employee,” and because we look the part we’re immediately lumped into that category.

Instead of going off on a rant about this, I decided to send a few questions to some friends in the industry that I respect very much. I wanted to get an outside opinion because I don’t think I’m an objective source (seeing as I’m always going to defend my generation).

So, part one of the Misconceptions About Gen Y Employees blog series is my Q&A with the lovely Gini Dietrich. Gini is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich here in Chicago, and she writes one of my favorite PR industry blogs, Spin Sucks.

1. Does age affect your decision when hiring employees?

Nope

2. Do you base an employee’s job role/position on their age?

Nope

3. Do you consider someone at a “junior level” less competent than those at a “senior level”?

Definitely. HAHAHA. No, of course not.

4. What is your overall opinion on age as it relates to an employee’s capabilities/performance?

I think age and perspective are two different things. There are plenty of Baby Boomers who can’t do as well as young professionals and vice versa. It has nothing to do with age. Sometimes it has to do with experience but, more often than not, it’s perspective.

5. Are there things you think younger generations excel at over others?

Sure! I think young professionals understand the digital space better than their older colleagues. Some of them have perspective that allows them to translate their personal social media experience to work and some don’t have it.

6. What is the biggest difference in managing Gen Y employees over others?

I don’t think it’s a Gen Y thing, as much as it is a patience thing. Some employees really want to be promoted so they can manage people. Some people think they deserve something that, as a supervisor, I don’t think they’re quite ready for. But that has nothing to do with age.

7. What is an advantage to assigning junior level employees to projects over senior level employees?

I’m not sure there is an advantage as it’s based on experience, perspective, motivation, and drive. Not on age.

8. What is the number one thing you would say that junior level employees can learn from senior level execs?

Patience.

9. What surprises you the most about your junior level employees?

Their dependence on their parents.

10. Anything else to add to this overall topic? A personal experience you’ve had?

I’ve had lots of bad experiences – with young and experienced employees. The strangest things that have ever happened is a parent calling me to negotiate a new employee’s package and another employee’s parent calling because he’d been put on probation. Wonders never cease.

The main takeaway I get from this is that it’s not about age or “level” of an employee, but rather the individual person and their work ethic. What do you think?

What does your personality type say about your work ethic?

Last week, a coworker gave out a personality test in the office. The test involved a series of four different words, and you would rank the words from “most like you” to “least like you.” After we went through about 20 sequences of words, we added the numbers to see what type of leadership personality we had. What came as a shock to no one, Jackie and I both ended up with the Socializer leadership style.

Among others, the Socializer style was defined by these statements:

  • the communicator promoting style
  • loves to talk
  • visually oriented
  • gets others involved
  • loves to be around people
So what does this say about my work ethic?
From a business perspective, these traits are spot on. Rarely do I ever like to work on projects on my own, and always welcome anyone’s opinion on the project I have at hand. I also love to talk to others as I work, and listen to music while working.

How does it compare to the traits of my coworkers?

From taking the test, I also learned that some of the team members that work on projects with me had completely different personality types. They would rather work on things in quiet, private space, and not have the entire team discussing something. Some also preferred to not collaborate on tasks.

How can you make different personality types work together?
After learning about my coworkers personality types as well as my own, I discovered that having a collection of types is what is best for a team. You don’t want everyone on the team directing and leading, and you also don’t want your entire team to be made up of serious schedule-oriented members. The key is to have an even amount of all types. You can then learn the way they work, as well as see how your personality adds to the flavor of your team as an entirety.

Although it didn’t come as a surprise to me what style I fell under, the test made me think about what a big difference leadership types can make on your workforce. Knowing what type you are as well where your coworkers fall can lead to a better understanding of ideas on projects. It can also teach you why people think about things the way they do. I encourage you to try them in your office. You can find tests online here and here.

Image source.

Are business leaders accountable for their actions?

In my mind, one of the defining characteristics of Gen Y is that we don’t like anything that is overly corporate or structured. Maybe we’re all just striving to be unique individuals, but overall we love the idea of going against The Man.

I’m all for that point of view, but recently I’ve started to see another side of the coin: The Man (aka the leader of a large corporation) cares more than you’d think.

Hear me out, please.

Gen Y employees tend to be lower down in companies (given our age), yet there are many of us who think we know best. Sometimes our ideas are very innovative. Sometimes they are extremely naïve and/or idealistic. Other times we are business-savvy but have superiors who refuse to listen or shift away from the “traditional” methods that have always worked in the past.

But the biggest misconception is that CEOs just sit in their corner office raking in the dough and not caring about the company.

You know why that’s not the case?

Because when shit hits the fan, the CEO is the one who gets canned. They are the face of the organization—the one with the biggest responsibility of all: Making sure the entire operation is running, and running successfully.

So, yes, the CEO gets that nice fat paycheck, but “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” (Yes I’m a nerd and quoted Shakespeare’s Henry IV)

When a company as a whole doesn’t live up to expectations, it’s not those of us at entry-mid level who gets blamed in the public eye…it’s the CEO.

I’ve actually seen this theory in action as I’ve begun to manage others. I’m lucky to work with some very talented individuals, but still if something goes wrong…it’s all on me. Both my clients and my boss are going to look to me because it’s my job to run these accounts, so it’s my job to make sure the other people on my team are doing things right.

Unfortunately, things go wrong that are out of our control. Guess what? I’ll be the one taking the lumps for it.

Yes, I know there are many business leaders who have outdated ideas and could benefit from learning a few lessons in their industry. There are others who might just be counting down the days until retirement. But for the most part, I really don’t think that’s the case. There are many CEOs out there who are truly passionate about the organizations they run.

So, let’s give business leaders a break. It’s really easy to pass judgment until you’re in a similar situation and realize why someone might have come to the decision they did.

Keep in mind that there’s a downside to everything. A CEO might be on top, but they’re also sitting on a pile of responsibilities that we don’t have to deal with.

(photo credit goes to playingintraffic.wordpress.com)

When is it necessary to communicate face-to-face?

As digital natives, Gen Y-ers have less of a tendency to communicate about things in person. Kim and I work in the same office but still email and tweet at each other instead of just getting up and talking face-to-face (although we do that too—she’s my girl!). But, it’s not uncommon for Gen Y to behave this way. We text or send a Facebook message before we pick up the phone and call you.

Yet I still believe there are times when it’s necessary to communicate face-to-face.

It’s a matter of respect. There are certain topics of conversation that deserve to be discussed in person—serious, personal and/or private matters, for instance. Please do them justice by making the effort to speak about them when you’re able to look someone in the eye.

And what about tone of voice? Let’s not forget that things can easily be misinterpreted when the computer (or mobile device) stands in the way. I’m an extremely sarcastic person (those of you that know me are nodding along thinking, “Yep, she’s a smart ass”), but sarcasm doesn’t translate very well if someone can’t hear your tone of voice.

This last point is going to sound so obvious, but the other time I think it’s necessary to communicate face-to-face is when you’re in the same room as someone. I know we all sit there two-thumbing our phones while at dinner with friends, but aside from that being rude…it just doesn’t make sense. Be present. Be in the moment.

I’m not saying you can’t check your phone, but have you ever seen those people who don’t say a word to one another because they’re so absorbed with whatever is happening on their phone? Come on, what is SO important on your phone that you can’t speak to the person sitting across the table from you?

Maybe I’m a little old school. I do still use a notebook and paper. I prefer reading actual books instead of using an e-reader. But I really think there’s some validity to my face-to-face argument.

Why?

Face-to-face interaction will never be completely replaced. We’re human beings, aren’t we? We have an inherent need to interact with one another. Let’s not become robots that are unable to communicate in person or have no personality because we never had to learn how to talk to someone without taking time to think of a witty response before hitting send.

Think about this: job interviews are face-to-face. Meetings are face-to-face (sometimes). Other business matters are still often settled face-to-face. Networking, although it can be done via social media, also happens face-to-face. The first impression someone has of you probably has a lot to do with…your face.

Just trying to make a point here.

What point is that? Don’t undervalue face-to-face interaction, regardless of how tech-savvy you are. There are times when it’s necessary.

(Image from msnbc.com–link to textaholic article by clicking on the pic)

What do Twitter nerds say on Valentine’s Day?

I love someecards. They’re highly inappropriate yet awesome ways to get a good laugh. Talk about Gen Y and our love for finding humor online and sharing it virally with one another.

So, when I saw this one I couldn’t help but share it with everyone. Being that I’m a huge Twitter nerd, this is my V-day love for all of the Tweeps out there. Love you guys!

What is your biggest phone “fail” moment?

While we are usually giving our perspective on industry hot topics, we decided for our Friday post that we would do something that most can relate to.

Gen-Y is known for their texting addiction. But have you ever texted someone or received a text that just didn’t sound right? Well you can thank auto correct for that one. The site Damn You Auto Correct is becoming an internet sensation for all of the awkward and hilarious situations that auto correct cell phones can put you in. Jackie and I turned to the Twitter stream to find some more funny moments.

Lauren Fernandez (@cubanalaf): Only “appropriate” one is when I texted Chris (my ex) to take the baby out of the fridge…… and meant bacon 😛 Hilarity ensued.

(@cubanalaf) Best one I ever received….. my friend Shaulty texted me “I have a bad case of the manboobs” and meant “Mondays”

Jason Mollica (@JasMollica): Honestly had my BB recommend F**K for function. I was writing “I’m heading to a function tonight.”

Jake Cripe (@JakeCripe) : mine has changed “coughing” to “coming”…#awkwardtexttomymother

Andrew Cross (@andrew_w_cross): Texting “Asian” to “Brian” (same 5 keys). Brian is Asian.

Seth Drury (@sethdrury): my phone used to always say “polio” when I meant “lol.” Also I use the word “uber” and it always extends it to “ubersexual.”

What is your awkward texting moment? Add it to our comments section. Happy Friday!

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