Like the generations before them, Millennials have a unique set of values, attitudes and behaviors that influence the way they work, communicate and handle their careers.
While many of the traits attributed to the Millennial workforce are widely viewed as strengths, others may actually hinder their career progress and earning power.
Could generational differences be holding you back? Here are some ways that Millennial tech pros are secretly sabotaging their careers.
Thinking that Hard Work Will Pay Off
Many Millennials mistakenly harbor the belief that hard work will inspire employers to be more paternalistic and generous, explained Paul Millerd, a strategy consultant, career coach and member of the Millennial generation. They assume that hard work means they will be taken care of—and that’s simply not true.
As a result, they put all their energy into their work, believing that they will get ahead, and become increasingly disillusioned and disappointed.
The problem is particularly acute among Millennials who work for large tech firms, Millerd added, because they lack exposure to the broader economy and don’t really understand “the system” or why wages have stayed depressingly flat.
In reality, you have to create your own opportunities and learn to navigate the market, he advised. Most importantly, don’t let your job define who you are or dictate your happiness.
Seeking Happiness vs. Contentment
Speaking of happiness: Alex Isenegger, CEO of legal platform Linkilaw and a member of the 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe, doesn’t buy into the popular myth that Millennials display a greater sense of entitlement in the workplace than other generations—with one big exception.
“They feel entitled to be happy… Millennial tech pros have a misconception that work should be fun, so they end up jumping from one thing to another,” she said. “Some of them are actually hurting their careers by chasing happiness all the time.”
Millennials would be better served by seeking contentment and realizing that work should be pleasant, not fun—at least not all of the time.
Lack of Self-Awareness
Self-awareness improves our vision and judgment, and helps us identify skill gaps and opportunities for professional development and growth. Unfortunately, Millennials’ lack of self-awareness causes them to believe that their skills are stronger than they actually are (especially when compared to the other generations).
Not Understanding the Other Side
Failing to understand the needs of an employer or what makes other people tick is creating a host of communication problems that are actually hurting Millennials’ career prospects, noted Yuri Kruman, a Millennial and CEO of Master the Talk.
For example, Millennials often focus on their own needs, and forget to address their boss’s interests and goals, when they ask for a promotion or raise. Kruman added that Millennials unintentionally weaken their case and reinforce the generational perception of “entitlement” by not backing up their requests with evidence.
“Millennials need to communicate more effectively and adopt a structured way of making their case,” Kruman noted. “You’re not entitled to a promotion or pay raise just because you’re a digital native.”
Isenegger has also observed that Millennials’ inability to see things from another perspective often leads to a breakdown in communications. Specifically, because Millennials can’t understand a manager’s point of view, they would rather change jobs than voice their concerns or try to work through issues.
But why run when you may be able to turn a job you hate into a job you love by negotiating changes?
Not Taking Charge of Their Careers
Millennials are guilty of giving too much credence to other people’s opinions or following traditional career paths that no longer exist. They tend to seek permission or wait for someone to tell them what to do when they should be blazing their own trails, Millerd noted.
The corporate ladder no longer exists, you need an opportunity mindset to succeed in the modern workplace, he added.