5 Ways This Generation Can Set Itself Apart Among Job Candidates

Technology is the Jeff Gordon of our generation.

It speeds our lives up tenfold and wins at everything. While it definitely makes our lives easier, it also has some unintended repercussions, like making our generation move at speeds we never thought possible.

Tech has forever changed our attitudes and approaches in the workplace.

For example, in interviews, employers expect you to know what the NASDAQ finished at yesterday and at what price IBM is currently trading.

And, there is no excuse for why you shouldn’t know about or have an opinion on the crisis in Yemen because aren’t you getting WSJ updates to your phone every five seconds.

The pressure is so real for Millennials.

Administrators attempt to alleviate this stress by providing workshops on tips for networking and the importance of LinkedIn, but those are not the only guidelines to which Millennials should pay attention.

Here are five things Millennials should be doing in preparation for landing their dream jobs:

1. Keep up-to-date on current events.

In a world of technology where information is so easily accessible, it would be foolish not to take advantage of this resource.

Most schools have access to either the Wall Street Journal, or the New York Times, or both.

Students should stay educated about what’s going on in the world and be able to develop intellectual opinions about current events.

Don’t want to carry around a bulky paper? Download the app and save the trees.

According to an article in the New York Times, reading the newspaper “sharpens students’ thinking skills.” Not only does it provide a wealth of information, but it also aids in critical thinking abilities.

2. Be familiar with relevant economic values.

Knowing current economic values, like unemployment and GDP, is not just for finance majors.

Likewise to current events, it’s important to be up-to-date on current values and know what the overall state of the economy is like.

This will show you’re aware of more than what exists in your comfortable bubble and have a richer knowledge of the numerical world around you.

Employers want to see that you’re paying attention because it means you have a plentiful understanding of the marketplace.

3. Read in your spare time.

Reading makes you smarter; it enhances your critical thinking and comprehension abilities. Critical thinking skills are so important in both the job market and the interview processes.

For example, during an interview, a good friend of mine was asked, “How many trees are in Central Park?”

Obviously, there is no definite answer to this question, but the interviewers wanted to see how my friend would go about problem solving to arrive at a logical answer.

According to an Entrepreneur article, reading also helps with improving memory retention, which is a good attribute to have in life and in the workplace.

4. Make and cultivate meaningful connections.

Career fairs are great, but let’s face it: They’re artificial. It’s difficult to establish meaningful connections when a recruiter only has one minute to talk to you and has already received upwards of 100 résumés.

The best way to create lasting relationships is to put yourself out there when no one else is doing so.

Reach out to someone you’d like to get to know professionally; take him or her to lunch to pick his or her brain about the industry.

You can also tap into pre-existing relationships by reconnecting with old college classmates via LinkedIn. Let your old friends know what you’re up to!

Networking is useful when looking for a job, professional advice or a professional alliance. A strong network translates to a plethora of opportunities.

5. Diversify your skills.

As an undergraduate business student, I attended many symposiums where recruiters discussed the typical dos and don’ts of applying for jobs.

Almost all of them spoke about narrowing their searches to two candidates who have similar work experience, GPA and extra-curricular activities.

So, if the two applicants are so alike, who lands the job? Typically, the one with the "stand-out" experience.

The contender who took up Chinese as a third language or the math major who chose to write for a famous publication will edge out other candidates without these experiences.

Diversification is so important. Show employers you are able to step outside your comfort zone and acquire a new skill.