Millennial Women and the Job Market
By Katie McBeth — Originally published at sheisfiercehq.com on September 21, 2016.
Women are dominating the small business industry, and millennial women are some of the best entrepreneurs in their industries.
There’s a reason millennial women are ruling the entrepreneurial industry: we have the technological intuition, empathy, and business prowess to succeed at running a business.
Yet women are still struggling to get on the top in the corporate market. A July 2016 survey revealed that only 19.9% of boardroom seats are occupied by women and only 4.4% of CEO seats within Fortune 500 companies are occupied by women. To top it off, millennials are also rarely seen in conference rooms (unless they’re delivering coffee) and are the generation suffering the most from underemployment. Millennial women are stuck in a rut of bad jobs and underappreciation.
What’s the catch? Why do women struggle to achieve a seat at the conference table, and why are millennial women still struggling with underemployment and unemployment?
It’s because we as women struggle to break the mold of the “boy’s club” that exists within business and technology. When an industry has been built on the ideas of men for a century or more, bringing in new perspectives intimidates those that have run the industry for so long.
However, this is where I believe our strengths truly lie, and we just need to convince others that we have the merit to prove our worth. Instead of living by the words of Sheryl Sandberg and “leaning into the boy’s club” of the boardroom, we need to dismantle and take the industry by storm as women. We have value, and we need to make them see it.
When looking for your perfect career, there are certain aspects of our identity as millennial women that can really catch a recruiter or hiring manager’s eye. When we show off our strengths as millennials and as women, then we can ace almost any job interview.
1. Empathy and Emotional IQ
Something that is especially powerful in women is our emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence, also known as EQ or emotional IQ is the ability to control your own emotions and the ability to properly analyze the emotions of others. It is a mix of intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligence, and women are especially talented at navigating emotional responses and cultivating empathy.
Although emotional IQ is something we need in our personal relationships, it also contributes to our professional lives substantially. Emotional IQ is considered to be more influential than cognitive intelligence (regular IQ) in management positions, and businesses that focus on emotional IQ in their hiring process find a significant increase in profits; even as high as 34%.
The reason is simple: when managers care about their employees and can consider and communicate emotions effectively, then everyone is less stressed and happier in the long run. Even when difficult situations arise, emotionally intelligent individuals can make all the difference in the world from turning a negative reaction into a positive experience.
2. Tech Savvy
It’s no secret that millennials are masters of the tech craft. However, what many people fail to realize is how that translates into our inherent ability to adapt to change. We experienced the greatest shift in technology during the 1990’s to early 2000’s, and we were able to adjust to all of it. If we are given a brand new system, we tend to pick it up quickly, and that is a competitive advantage we have over other generations.
This adaptability to change extends beyond technology. As long as we’re given proper guidance and support from our peers, we can adapt to almost any organizational shift within a company.
In addition, we’re constantly bombarded with social media and distractions every day, yet we manage to navigate these distractions and still get work done. Point out how successful you are at working away from the office (millennials love flexibility), and how that applies to the job you’ve aimed your sites on.
3. Communication Masters
Communication and a high Emotional IQ may go hand in hand, but millennials are also known for being stringent believers in constructive communication and mentorship. We crave feedback from our managers (something that is often interpreted as a result of “helicopter parents”), and we reflect that level of communication in our own professional environment.
When it comes to business, communication is key. Not only internally, but in public relations and partnering with other companies — constructive communication can be the most crucial component to succeeding in any industry. As millennials, we can leverage our appreciation for strong communication among our managers, and give examples of how we reflect that value in our own work ethic.
4. Diversity and Perspective
Another key component of any industry is diversity. Although industries may be slow to pick up integrating unique perspectives, there’s no doubt that diversity is vital to success and innovation.
When job hunting, you can use this to your advantage. Score their current list of employees and think of the unique perspective that you — as a millennial woman — can bring to the table.
If you’re a millennial jumping into a field that is full of Baby Boomers, then focus on your ability to adapt to change and technology. Millennials are also the most educated generation to join the job market, with 63% holding bachelor’s degrees, so focus on the knowledge you can bring.
Your education is essential to your perspective and success, and you can use it to your advantage. Even if your degree is in something obscure, you will find that the subject often doesn’t matter, as long as the experience you gained is applicable to the job. For example, I have an Anthropology and Foreign Language degree, but I work in marketing and management. No degree is too obscure for most professional careers!
Go Get It, Girl…
No matter what, don’t hesitate to try for that big promotion or position. Confidence is key, and showing just how influential you can be in any business will be sure to make an impression. Millennial women were born to succeed, and we’re gonna take the industry by storm once we realize it!
Katie McBeth is a freelance writer out of Boise, ID, with experience in marketing for small businesses and management. When she’s not writing about millennials or small businesses, she spends her free time training her dog Toby to herd her three annoying (but adorable) cats around her house. You can follow her animal and writing adventures on Instagram or Twitter.