Tag Archives: Job search counseling

How Millennials Adapt to Change Quickly

How Millennials Adapt to Change Quickly

Younger people are open to changes

Companies are not permitted to discriminate in hiring based on a candidate’s age, because such discrimination is illegal. And yet they do it every day. Why? Why are younger people considered more desirable in the workplace? The simple answers are that they require less compensation; they’re hungry because they need to accumulate wealth for future years; sometimes they’re more educated and have advanced degrees; and they can stick around longer before retiring. There are other reasons too, such as getting sick less often and having more stamina. But there’s one crucial thing that people don’t often talk about: that younger generations can adapt more easily to change and therefore can—and are willing to—learn new things. Invariably, when more-mature people joke about the fact that if they need to do just about anything technology related, they phone their children or even their grandchildren. Younger generations’ brains are wired to deal more readily with modern technology. And they don’t have to unlearn old technology.

Today’s work environment requires the ability to adapt quickly to market demands. New technology is ubiquitous and evolving fast. Learning new things and immediately becoming able to use them are modern-age requirements. Younger people more easily learn. Older people often resist and can’t.

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,”

As the adage says, is true for people more advanced in age. Many don’t know how to use a smartphone or how to e-mail or how to navigate the Internet or how to shop online. And they’ve come to believe they’re too old to learn; they’ve given up on learning new things. Employers are fully aware of that phenomenon and consider the age of an applicant before making an offer.

Beginning with our birth and for many years after, learning new things is a necessity to survive and be part of modern society. As we get older, though, we reach a point when learning becomes optional. We no longer need to learn new things to survive. Some use the excuse that they can’t learn anymore because they’re old. It’s not true, of course, but it still gets used as an excuse. And some simply lack the motivation to expend the energy required to learn new things.

Older people should stress in job interviews that they have the desire to keep learning new things, and in fact they should give examples of new things they’ve learned recently and adopted as parts of their daily lives.

Can Body Language Be Learned?

Photo credit to Adamr

Photo credit to Adamr

Ten minutes after I meet with a coaching client for the first time, the client is facing my video camera for 60 to 90 seconds. Then we watch the video together. Differently from in real life and because we have modern technology, I can separate the impression—and the client’s image—from the spoken words. I simply turn the speakers off so I don’t get influenced by the video’s verbal content and context. This is a powerful experience, one that provides rich information. In most cases a client can use that information for improving job interview skills and then can apply the newly learned skills during a job interview. Most people are awestruck by their video experience. In less than two minutes, people can see for themselves how they’re perceived by others—something they couldn’t have known before.

Albert Mehrabian, currently UCLA professor emeritus of psychology, published his findings on inconsistent communication of feelings and attitudes and on the relative importance of verbal messages and nonverbal messages. He devised what’s known as the 55%-38%-7% rule. Professor Mehrabian’s basic tenet is that when we communicate with other people, we’re being judged to the extent of 55% by our nonverbal behavior such as body language and facial expression, 38% by our tone of voice, and only the remaining 7% by the actual words we speak and their context. Moreover, if the words we use are incongruent with our body language and tonality, then the other person tends to believe more in what he sees and hears and less in the meaning of the words.

When we interview, our body language says a lot about us and about our emotional state; and poor body language often sends the message that we’re stressed or fearful. But even before the interview interaction begins, the interviewer looks at your face, your hair, your clothes, and the image you’re projecting. Thus, he forms an opinion about you before you’ve even had a chance to formally meet.

The interviewer observes your body language and interprets it quickly, knowing at once whether you’re scared, passive, underqualified, or something else. If you say the wrong thing, the interviewer can forgive that, but if your body language says something different from what you actually say—for example, you say you’re a person who works well in stressful situations, but your body language betrays the fact that you’re indeed stressed; or, for another example, you say you’re confident, but your body language again betrays the fact that you’re not—well, those are things an interviewer knows you can’t change.

Following are a few body language mistakes to avoid during a job interview.

  • Crossing your arms, which suggests you’re either overconfident or uncomfortable

·       Lack of eye contact, especially while the interviewer is talking

·       Not smiling, which makes you appear nervous or unfriendly

·       Hiding your hands, because the interviewer will want to interpret how open and honest you are by looking at your hands.

The only way to improve correspondence between the words you say and what your body language says is to prepare for the interview and practice, practice, and practice some more. It’s best to practice interviewing with someone who can point out to you your areas of deficiency and can guide you in making improvements.

While on a job interview, you’re nothing other than an actor onstage. Just think about how much preparation it takes to perform on Broadway.

Is Fear a Part of Your Professional Life?

free_2777276During my work with job seekers or those contemplating a job/career change, I evaluate the amount of fear that drives—or paralyzes—my clients. To some extent, all of them exhibit fear originated by some threat—or so they perceive. For a person out of a job, that feeling is not only a perception but also, unfortunately, a reality. The normal human body has a built-in mechanism to protect itself from such an emotion by either confronting it or running away from it. It’s also known as the fight-or-flight response. In more-extreme situations, such fear leads to anxiety, but I’ll let a mental-health professional explain that one.

Conversely, a few clients indeed become energized by fear resulting from lack of employment. Their adrenaline levels rise sharply, and they’re ready to attack. They see opportunities coming out of this employment change, and nothing stops them from getting to their next assignment. They exhibit a go-getter mentality and thrive on even small incremental successes. However, the majority of those I see react to their unknown futures by clamming up and thus thinking they’re protecting themselves during this vulnerable stage of their life. I vividly remember my own situation during a transition. My entire attitude could have been described as, “The answer is no, so what’s your question?” It’s a shame that our emotions and our logic are not always congruent.

In working with people who at times seem paralyzed due to their new, jobless reality, I try to clearly understand what’s behind the obvious fact that they don’t have jobs. That understanding is typically complex and intertwined with other, tangled elements. For example, embarrassment vis-à-vis family and friends, or self-humiliation as a parent unable to financially support a child who wants and deserves a college education, or, perhaps, aggravation of an already bad spousal relationship due to the inability to contribute to basic family finances for an extended period. And the list can go on and on.

In such a situation, my solution is to attempt to provide clients with (1) job search tools, (2) exposure to and familiarity with the job search process, (3) ample amounts of mock interviewing that increase clients’ knowledge and experience, and above all, (4) listening as they talk about their pain, and (5) an understanding of all they’re going through. Another tactic that’s proved successful is helping clients learn to divert their attention to something positive. For example, clients can learn to network effectively in order to establish new relationships with people who may be able to help them and whom in turn they can help. Clients can also learn to discuss volunteering opportunities that not only could lead to a job but in the interim could help job seekers mingle with other people. And, more often than not, volunteers could hear again the words “Thanks for a job well done”—a sentiment that for a while has probably been absent from their lives.