GenY – 5 Key’s To Getting Ahead Of Your Competition For Jobs


This article was written by Clay Staires, Tulsa Leadership Trainer, Motivational Speaker & Founder of Tulsa’s #1 Leadership Program, The Leadership Initiative

CLICK HERE and go to MEDIA/AUDIO to listen to Clay’s interview with Natalie Cash on K95.5.

As I work with more and more businesses on employee retention and engagement, I am getting more and more questions about how to “work with” the younger generation that’s entering into the workforce. You may be asking some of the same questions!

From 2002 to 20012, I was the Executive Director of a non-profit organization almost completely staffed by these “younger workers” – The GenYer’s! This generation was born in the mid 80’s and has had a very different childhood than any previous generation. As a result, they are now turning into adults that are different adults than any previous generation! What we’re experiencing right now in the marketplace is the CLASH OF THE GENERATIONS!! Baby Boomers and Gen X was a slight change, but now this Gen Y has left us all scratching out heads (or maybe that’s pulling out our hair!).

While spending 10 years immersed in this culture, I was able to become very skilled in connecting, engaging and developing this age group and was able to channel their “powers” into very productive work and accomplishments. However, before I get into the Keys I discovered to unlock the powers of this group, let me mention just a couple of undeniable facts pertaining to them.

#1. They are who they are because we (GenXer’s) raised them that way! So try not to act all innocent and confused when they want to live at home after college and play video games all afternoon while waiting for the call back from the one job where they applied. Ha!

#2. This generation is 70 MILLION strong and the fastest growing segment in today’s workforce! At some point the current job market culture is going to have to reconcile the differences. We are currently experiencing the “clash”, but eventually we will move through a transition to a working culture that may possibly look very different than it does today.

WE’RE DIFFERENT! OK, I get it! But we’re still in THE TRANSITION so we can expect a little confusion, misunderstanding and a few set backs during this period. With all that said, let me offer some tools to help both the GenYer’s and the rest of us (Gen X and Baby Boomers) avoid accusing each other and giving up. At some point, they will have to get off the couch and get a job and we are going to have to stop blaming them for their sense of entitlement and not wanting to pay their dues! Remember, we raised them to expect a trophy just for showing up and to get ice cream even if they never won!!

Here are my 5A’s to help you GenYer’s “fit” when you are looking for a job! Yes, these have been proven many times over to SET YOU APART from the rest of your generation and get your name to the top of the list!

  1. Appearance – “self-expression” is nice and has value, but when you go to an interview, we want to know your focus is on representing the company and not just expressing yourself! DRESS UP! Even if it’s for a job at the local swimming pool – Look Nice!
  2. Attitude – It’s unfortunate for you, but you have been labeled as a group with ENTITLEMENT ISSUES. You are going to have to overcome that stereotype. But that actually gives you a window opportunity to shine like a star in the midst of a lot of status quo applicants. When you come to work for a company, we want to know what you can do “us”. “Ask not, what the company can do for you. Ask what you can do for the company!” What are you “willing” to do for the employer! Like it or not, the way the system is set up right now, you’ll probably have to start at the bottom and work your way up, just like the person did that is doing your interview! Will you be willing to do what needs to be done?
  3. Action – This is huge! Your actions will lead to your production. In the interview, don’t get caught just talking about what you’ve DONE. Set yourself apart by talking about what you have PRODUCED for someone other than yourself. (aka – I don’t care that you have the high score on your HALO team). Use numbers when talking about your production. This indicates a measurable impact that you can make as opposed to just talking about how fun it was and good you felt about yourself!
  4. Asset – After you have revealed your ability to produce for someone else, now you simply need to connect your production to the employers need. How will you’re production answer their problem? Yes, you should ask them in the interview what problems they are wanting to solve when they hire for this position! Then you present yourself as the solution to their problem! WELCOME TO SALES! It’s the language of the marketplace.
  5. Ask – This is also huge, but NO ONE does it! Before the interview is over you need to ASK THEM TO GIVE YOU THE JOB! “You have not because you ask not.” A good friend of mine told me about this little gem one day at lunch. He said, “Try it the next time you are on a sales call and see if it works.” Within 30 minutes I was on a call to a potential client in Dallas. At the end of the call I simply said, “So I can see that you’re under a time crunch here. I want this speaking gig and I know you’ll be more than happy with the results. WILL YOU GIVE ME THIS JOB?” And, BOOM! They said, “Yes, I will”. Ha! It worked!

There you have my 5A’s to help SET YOURSELF APART from the rest of the applicants competing for the job! I promise this stuff really works!! Throw in a little Accountability and you’ll end up at the top of the pile! I’ve had numerous people apply these tips and have found themselves getting offers from every interview!

Here are a couple of links to more information (AND HELPFUL TIPS) about how to get a job as a GenYer!

3 Reasons Why College Grads Aren’t Hireable!

Use Your Job To Pay Off College Debt Fast

If you’re an employer that is currently struggling to better understand how to engage this younger generation, please check out this presentation link on HARNESSING THE POWER OF GEN Y or give me a call and let’s sit down over some coffee and talk about how you can become a “winner” in this tug of war! This generation is a wonderful group with some truly amazing talent that I can help you tap into for your company!


Clay Staires