10 Common Characteristics of Millenial Generation Employees

February 22, 2021

The millennial generation, often called Generation Y, has been the topic of many debates. In one aspect, this generation is often regarded in a negative view, but millennials can also be described as one of the most adaptive and creative generations, especially in their careers.

If you are among the number of millennials developing your career, it can seem daunting to showcase these core characteristics, however, when highlighted in a positive and confident way, you can increase the likelihood of impressing future employers. In this article, we cover 10 core characteristics of the millennial generation, as well as how to showcase these traits in your resume, cover letter and interviews.

Read more: Core Values: Overview and Examples

What is the millennial generation?

The millennial generation, also called Generation Y, refers to the population of people who were born roughly between the early 1980s and 1990s, often being extended as far as the early 2000s. This generation is the most populated in modern history, and it can be worth noting that it is also the generation to be born into the technological world and came of age in a new millennium. However, this generation is also often defined as those who are born between 1980 and 1996, as it points to individuals who were old enough to experience and comprehend 9/11.

This generation has witnessed the arrival of technological growth and development, and perhaps because of it, can identify as being more progressive, creative and far-thinking than earlier generations. Many millennials may also identify as being more concerned with intrinsic and moral values over extrinsic and material ideologies.

Characteristics of the millennial generation

In addition to being the first generation to truly witness the advent of technology like the internet, virtual reality and artificial intelligence, there are a variety of traits that people of Generation Y might have:

  1. Values meaningful motivation
  2. Challenges the hierarchy status-quo
  3. Places importance on relationships with superiors
  4. Intuitive knowledge of technology
  5. Open and adaptive to change
  6. Places importance on tasks rather than time
  7. Passion for learning
  8. Openly receptive to feedback and recognition
  9. Free-thinking and creative
  10. Values social interactions in the workplace

Related: Character Traits: Definition and Examples

1. Values meaningful motivation

Millennials value meaningful motivation. They may be characterized as being motivated by creative work, sharing their gifts and making an impact on others and within their communities. Oftentimes, these intrinsic motivators can be seen in a millennial's approach to their careers. Many can frequently be found working toward helping others, imparting inspiration or working to improve on a community or world-wide issue.

Additionally, many millennials aim for goals that offer ways to further their meaningful work rather than monetary gains. While this generation's professional drive often helps them advance in their careers, many seem to do so for reasons other than a salary increase or monetary bonuses.

2. Challenges the hierarchy status-quo

Millennials are known for their resolve in sharing their opinions and ideas, as well as challenging their superiors when they feel it is warranted. While this trait can seem as though millennials share contempt for authority on the whole, this characteristic actually comes from the idea that what is best for the company results from active listening, collaboration and considering all points of view.

Millennials also seem to prefer working across many functions, offering creative solutions and moving away from the boundaries of professional status and level. Additionally, this generation seems to truly believe that approaches such as these are more beneficial to the workplace than merely following orders passed down from the top of the professional hierarchy.

3. Places importance on relationships with superiors

More and more frequently, millennials have shown that when it comes to their careers, they prefer a supervisor or manager that they can connect to as a mentor. This generation has made a point to get comfortable working with their superiors and asking for advice and counsel about their career development. In addition to receiving advice and feedback, millennials place importance on building rapport as well as pathways for frequent communication with their managers.

4. Intuitive knowledge of technology

As many millennials grew from childhood to adulthood, they witnessed the expansive growth of technology. With that growth, millennials seem to have developed the ability to quickly adapt and change according to new and more modernized technology as it becomes available. Smartphones, virtual reality, interactive software and even artificial intelligence may continue to see the millennial generation adding to its development. In fact, the millennial generation may even be the first generation to be fully globalized online during adolescence and early adulthood.

Read more: Technical Skills: Definition and Examples

5. Open and adaptive to change

Not only are millennials described as adaptive to change, but many also embrace it. Oftentimes, this generation has been one of ushering in changes in business, technology and the economy. Most seem to recognize that these industries are constantly changing and that the methods of working within the modern-day career field must change with them. Being adaptive to the continuously changing atmosphere they live in also allows this generation to advance in and take on a variety of roles.

6. Places importance on tasks rather than time

Millennials seem to be very task-oriented rather than time-oriented. This can appear in the form of productivity with producing results, as well as placing a higher priority on the quality of a product, deliverable or otherwise task-related output. This generation places importance on working toward producing rather than being concerned with how many hours they can put in at a job. More often, millennials may want to be flexible in their schedules, working outside of a traditional "9 to 5" career so they may use more of their personal time to pursue things outside of work.

7. Passion for learning

Not only are millennials open to change and adaptive, but they also seem to possess an extraordinary passion for learning new things. This generation exhibits deep curiosity about the world and displays the desire to further develop skills and knowledge that can help them within their professional lives. Furthermore, millennials seem to understand the importance of setting and achieving goals, both for personal growth and their careers.

Related: Interview Question: "What Are Your Future Goals?"

8. Openly receptive to feedback and recognition

Rather than waiting to be reviewed on a biannual or annual basis, millennials also appreciate regular feedback. This generation values input, advice and mentorship from their managers, and they seem to be extremely receptive to continuous feedback on a weekly or daily basis. Furthermore, performance management and development can often be priorities for Generation Y, resulting in the need to hear from their supervisors about how they are performing in their jobs.

Additionally, this generation seems to thrive off of open recognition, so positive praise in the workplace is something that can benefit their motivation. Millennials generally appreciate knowing that what they are doing is making a difference and that their talents are valued.

9. Free-thinking and creative

It could be from the vast availability of technological mediums, or the fact that millennials grew up during the time of transition from conventional methods to modernized and technologically advanced ways of working. Because of this innovation, millennials may tend to be more imaginative in their thinking. If problems arise in the workplace, millennials typically have the ability to come up with creative solutions to fix them.

10. Values teamwork and social interactions in the workplace

This generation also places a great degree of importance on working within a team environment. Collaboration on projects, problem-solving with different points of view and creating new and innovative approaches to working in their fields may be cooperative endeavors that millennials undertake while working on a team.

In addition to productivity and quality results on their teams, it may seem that many millennials also desire a social atmosphere in the workplace. Qualities like fun, relaxed and comfortable can be used to describe most millennials' idea of a fitting and optimal workplace.

Read more: 6 Qualities That Make a Great Team Player

Tips for highlighting your millennial characteristics

From these 10 core characteristics, you might consider how you can highlight skills and traits that reflect these strengths when applying to jobs. No matter your age or experience level within the Generation Y range, the following tips can help guide you through showcasing your best qualities:

On a resume

Consider highlighting your accomplishments in past roles where you relied on your adaptability, creative problem-solving or expert technical skills. Be sure to include a quantifiable result that you played a role in producing to allow employers to see how your past performance or productivity may benefit their organization.

In a cover letter

After your initial introductory paragraph to a potential employer, you might include a section to describe how your characteristics can benefit their company, as well as relating your traits to required skills outlined in the job description. Additionally, you can relate your core strengths to how you can see yourself providing specific results for their business.

During an interview

You might consider focusing on a few key traits that specifically apply to general interview questions, such as "What are your strengths?" and "Why do you want to work here?" For example, if a candidate is interviewing for a role in digital marking, they might describe how their natural curiosity and motivation for learning new skills helped them develop an innovative approach to building a new content management system for their past employer.


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