Millennials get blamed for a lot of things. They eat way too much avocado toast—and drive up its price. They may have brought forth the death of TV sitcoms. And they have put casual dining and chain restaurants on the endangered species list. So, it’s not at all surprising that a new survey has put millennials in yet another unfavorable light: they fall asleep at work.
That’s right: according to V8 + Energy, which polled 1,000 U.S. residents ages 22 to 37 on their energy levels, 30 percent of millennials have fallen asleep at their desks. But it didn’t stop there. Thirty-six percent of millennials admitted to faking sick to leave work early; 32 percent copped to missing or arriving late to an important meeting; and 20 percent of the millennials said they’ve shown up to work with their clothes on backwards or inside out.
In other words, the survey doesn’t exactly paint a picture of millennials as good employees.
But before we judge them too harshly, millennial career expert Jill Jacinto reminds us it’s easy to criticize these young workers. “When a new generation comes into the workforce. the older generations quickly point and say the newcomers have it so easy,” she says. “And if you look at it from a bird’s eye view, they do.” After all, Jacinto points out, “Imagine not having the internet, a computer, cell phones, or Slack to get your work done.” (Yes, we’re shuddering.) “But you can’t blame workforce transformation on millennials,” Jacinto says.
When looking at numbers like this, she says, additional questions need to be asked before millennials are judged: For example, “falling asleep at your desk is egregious,” Jacinto quickly agrees, but she adds, “I wonder how long that employee worked the night before?”
Of course, employers don’t always ask these questions—and so, if you’re a millennial who wants to beat your generation’s bad work rep and convince someone to hire you, we’ve got three tips to keep you in the job running and, hopefully, catapult you to the top of the pile.
1. Be a consumer.
“Hiring managers have told me that some of their best hires were consumers first,” Jacinto says. What does that mean? If you have an interview with a food company, for example, go to the store and sample its food for yourself, suggests Jacinto. “If you can’t buy the product or service because cost or if the product is not business-to-consumer, then explore its website, event listings, social media, videos, and press releases, and take notes with a consumer’s perspective,” Jacinto instructs. “Being able to authentically demonstrate this type of knowledge will come across very clearly to the person sitting across the table.”
2. Use “we” language.
According to Jacinto, “employers want to know that you are a team player and can easily fit into their culture.” This may be especially important to prove as a millennial, often thought of as selfish and impulsive. So, during an interview, “as you answer their questions, literally say ‘we’ as opposed to ‘I’ so that you already sound like you are part of the team,” she says.
3. Ask the right questions.
To beat a bad rep as a millennial worker, “it is important to stay focused and understand your goal is to sell yourself [during the interview],” Jacinto says. In other words, “this is not the time to ask about vacation days, working weekends, salary, or a bonus,” Jacinto warns. “These questions should be asked after you have been offered the job.” Instead, you should “use the small window of time you have with a hiring manger to ask strategic questions that show your worth as a candidate and that promote your skill set,” Jacinto instructs.