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Why millennials have a tough time landing jobs

The job market is soft for recent college graduates, and experts say millennials themselves are part of the problem.

By Money Staff Mar 31, 2014 12:17PM

This post comes from Kelley Holland at partner site CNBC.

CNBC on MSN MoneyIt's job-hunting season on campuses across the country, and the anemic job market is adding some extra stress to spring for many millennials.

Recent college graduates are facing less unemployment than those without college degrees, but a study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found they are still contending with a nearly 8 percent jobless rate. And 44 percent of recent college graduates are underemployed, meaning they hold jobs that do not require a college degree, according to a separate report by the New York Fed.

But it's not just slow job growth that is hurting millennials' job search prospects. In many ways, hiring managers and others say, they are hurting themselves.

Stories abound of millennials showing up in casual clothes for formal interviews, bringing—and using—their phones during the interview and worse.

Not only that, in a survey of 22- to 26-year-old college graduates by Adecco, a staffing and recruiting company, 8 percent reported that a parent accompanied them on at least one job interview, and 3 percent said a parent actively joined the interview.

"I've had moms call me for interviews," said Dan Black, Americas director of recruiting at EY, the global firm that includes Ernst & Young, though he added that the candidates themselves were uniformly mortified when this happened.

Millennials "have been technology enabled from the minute they were able to crawl, so to speak, so they have a different way of connecting and a different way of engaging," said Kip Wright, a senior vice president with ManpowerGroup, the staffing company. As a result, he said, "they struggle with that traditional interview."

Some of the biggest mistakes recent college graduates make involve interview preparation, or a lack thereof.

Resume © Dynamic Graphics, age fotostockIn an Adecco survey of hiring managers, 75 percent said millennials' biggest interview mistake was dressing inappropriately, and almost as many said they tended to mess up by posting inappropriate material on social media. Almost two-thirds of respondents said millennials tend to demonstrate a lack of research preparation for interviews. These hiring managers also said they were three times as likely to hire a worker over age 50 as a millennial.

Black said he is often struck by millennials' casual approach. "I've gotten emails saying 'hey, it was gr8 to meet you'" after a recruiting event, he said.

But college students needn't despair. Hiring managers and recruiting experts say millennials also bring skills to their post-college jobs earlier generations lack.

"They know technology front and back. They know how to multitask at a level we can't imagine," Wright said. "If you put them in a conference room when they are trying to solve a problem and let them use their laptops, they will be networking with their own networks and they will collectively come up with solutions that you may never have thought of."

Black is similarly enthusiastic about millennials' capabilities. And Ernst & Young LLP intends to recruit nearly 12,700 professionals in the U.S. in fiscal year 2014, with nearly 7,200 coming from college campuses.

Black contends that employers need to make some adjustments to their expectations in order to work successfully with millennials—and millennials need to do the same.

"We've made lots of changes around the different technology platforms we use," he said. When his firm is training millennials, it offers podcasts and webcasts because "this is how this generation learns."

But 20-something job candidates and employees need to respect the client focus of the business, and adjust their behavior accordingly, he added.

"I can't wear shorts to the office, much as I'd like to. That's an accommodation that the candidate's going to have to make. That's what is accepted and required to do the job."

In other words, millennials: Go get those shoes shined.

More from CNBC

Mar 31, 2014 4:33PM
I'm 23 years old and this article made me cringe. I am so proud of the fact that I interview well and am a professional person at work. I can't believe anyone, even 18 year olds, would go to an interview in casual clothes or use their phone. That's insane.
Apr 6, 2014 8:18AM
What's wrong with learning a trade. From what I've read there is a shortage of welders, electricians, construction workers, mechanics etc. College isn't the only option, People that are skilled in some of these trades can get a job just about anywhere.
Mar 31, 2014 4:54PM
There are jobs out there, but people just aren't willing to do them.  A couple of generations ago, the majority of the workforce was willing to work a 10-12 hour days and get dirty doing it.  Now, just a small fraction are willing to do that.  You new grads have to start somewhere, and there's nothing wrong with the bottom of the heap.  If you're really worth more, you shouldn't have any problems starting at the bottom and climbing the ladder quickly.

If you think you deserve to sit in a cushy office and make $75k while spending half your 8-hour day playing games on your phone, texting and shopping online, good luck to you.
Mar 31, 2014 4:39PM
So they have learned that you can't do an interview via text messaging.  Next will be learning how to write a real E-mail in fully spelled words rather than run-on sentences and text message abbreviations that no one over age 30 knows what they mean.
Apr 1, 2014 9:49AM
Multi tasking does not work and is nothing but a myth. Look it up.
Apr 6, 2014 9:28AM
My sister is a Prof. at a major Northeastern University.  She say's today's junior in college was a 12th grader in the 70's.  They are entitled, lazy and complain much more than the generation before them.  Hell, they can't (University Seniors) even produce a 4 page single spaced paper on basic management philosophy without complaining about "how hard it is".   Yes, they are tech savvy, but that doesn't make up for bad manners, and not being punctual, not at all.  Multi-tasking is a myth, it's a con word for not doing anything very well, and never finishing a project.  Good luck losers, you're going to be the first generation to live below the level of the generation who preceded you.  Better get used to that basement, and Mommy doing your laundry. 
Apr 1, 2014 2:44PM

I believe the colleges have offices to help prepare people for the job market.  Perhaps it should be required of the students to take a seminar on resume writing and interviewing before allowing them in the world with their degrees.  If I was an educational institution I wouldn't want those recent grads representing my school in such an unprofessional manner. 

Another issue is viewing the writing capabilities of many kids in high school.  They have no writing skills.  I am far from perfect but some of the writing is so terrible it should be obvious to anyone.  They shouldn't get passing grades for that kind of work.  I think we have lowered our standards or allow too many excuses about this is how the world works.  Gr8?  Really?  You do not do that professionally.

I am not some old lady either.  I am 37 years old and have a son that will be in high school next year. I work in an office.  I have a college degree.  I know I am not perfect and know that we all make mistakes. However, I feel that these millennials need to put in a little more effort.  They have been so used to having things handed to them.

Most go to college to get a business degree and come out thinking they will be a CEO and start at the top. With any race in life you have to start at the start line and not the finish line.
The sooner the Media quits making excuses for the younger group and tell them to quit whining and get to work, the sooner we will solve this problem.
Apr 6, 2014 9:21AM
As a baby boomer I have to admit we raised a  generation of kids with an entitlement  mentality who now in their mid 40's, still have no qualms asking for money or moving back home. These are the ones who have raised our grandkids, this over protected generation. These kids  have had mommy and daddy make excuses, blame everyone else, and defend every failure in their  lives. They have never had to do anything they chose not to do or face rejection solely on their own. Now into the real world they go, doomed to fail with no concept, ability or willingness to compete in today's job market. When mothers call employers to ask for job interviews for junior, it's pretty much over.
Mar 31, 2014 4:32PM

I thought working min wage Walmart and hammering ebt with 6 fatherless kids was a career?

That's what the weekly native advertising anti-walmart article on msn tells us.

In reality the job market is great, but only if your the <25% or so of the country that isn't an idiot. And it gets even better with union K12 churning out more unemployable morons everyday.

Mar 31, 2014 4:11PM
Get to work young people, you have to pay for health insurance you dont need so Obama's rich friends can profit
Mar 31, 2014 11:39PM
Hey Toyota3, you need to understand supply & demand a lot better.  If there is low demand for your over-supply of philosophy major buddies, then they get low wages, if any at all.  One should only be paid that which they are worth according to the marketplace.  And, that one employee better bring much more value to their employer than they are paid, or step-aside and let someone else do the they on this continent or not.
Apr 6, 2014 4:53AM
Lose the beard and pork pie for starters.
Apr 6, 2014 9:34AM
They aren't "finding" jobs because they're sitting back and expecting their rightful jobs to "find" them.
Apr 6, 2014 11:45AM

Poor poor millenials.... NOT!

If you idiots want jobs then you better be worth hiring. Get off your damn phone, turn off face book and twitter and focus on the task you are given.  Perhaps consider not piercing every part of your body and covering every inch of your skin with ink.  Your image represents the companies image to those you interact with.

You don't look cool, you don't look unique but you do look like a miserable failure of abstract art - as if a gang sign infested wall of graffiti mated with a deep sea fishing lure.

P.S. learn to spell, learn the difference between text appropriate abbreviations and REAL English and realize that you are expected to be on time and work like everybody else.

Sincerely,  The guy who is tired of interviewing idiots like you for jobs you THINK you are entitled to but will probably never get.

Mar 31, 2014 4:19PM
Millenials as well as many other Americans have trouble finding jobs, especially good paying, CAREER jobs,  because of the job killing policies of the current administration and Obozocare.  Whatever happened to the "laser like focus on jobs" and "shovel ready jobs"
Apr 6, 2014 9:46AM
I have observed a constancy in my neighborhood over the last 20 years. None of the college students get a summer job and middle class mom and dad enable this. Even the top 1% wouldn't pamper their children like this. Even the federal govt allows these middle class adults to remain on their parents medical through the age of 26 yrs. Sorry kiddies a good job is not an entitlement. 
Apr 6, 2014 6:32AM
Ask the Community Organizer why! He will tell you another lie! If his lips are moving he his lying! 
I sure can't keep my insurance and found out the other day my Dr won't accept this shiiiiit plan I signed up for.   

Mar 31, 2014 5:56PM
These same dumb A$$es voted for with your choice libtards...
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