Millennials and Technology:
Let’s Upgrade Our Perspectives

date | Category | 7 minute read
woman working from home with a coffee

By LOVELL CORPORATION

It’s no secret that Millennials are plagued with stereotypes in the workplace—many of which position young workers as lazy, fickle and self-consumed.

One stereotype in particular that young professionals cannot seem to shake is their connection to technology and obsession with social media.

I recently came across a satire video that was being shared among executives on LinkedIn. The video was positioned as a mock job interview between a Millennial and HR manager. While I can’t say I was surprised by the mockery and underlining frustrations the video emphasized for executives, from a Millennial/youth perspective, I was actually quite offended.

One specific scene showed the HR manager asking the Millennial candidate about their tech competencies.

In an indifferent tone, the Millennial responds “Oh yes I have a ton of technology experience. I use all the core platforms—Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat…”

Befuddled, the HR Manager goes on to clarify “I mean real technology skills, like Word and PowerPoint.”

The Millennial responds with a blank stare and says “Um, what are those?”

With Millennial workers making up more than 50% of the workforce, and Gen Z workers close on their heels, you would think blatantly naive stereotypes would be less prominent.

What’s Wrong with This Scene?

First, youth growing up today, along the Millennials and Gen X who preceded them, have all used some sort of word processing software in school. Computers and technology are now so intertwined with our lives that these basic competencies are becoming mandatory rather than an asset for a candidate. You can’t apply for too many professional jobs anymore without access to a computer and often a typed cover letter and resume.

Second, I would not underestimate the value of understanding digital platforms and how to use social media. In a world where content is king and digital marketing continues to evolve as a core function of business communications, having candidates knowledgeable with these platforms is an asset, not a detriment.

recruiting young talent interview

To shatter this stereotype once and for all, I would also like to bring forward a counter perspective. Often, we look at #bridgingthegap in the workplace from a perspective of how do we get the new generation to fit into our old traditional box and ways of doing business.

In the video scene, we see a common scenario of a Millennial being positioned as technologically incompetent because they are unfamiliar with old systems, though the validity of this assumption is questionably naive with this generation’s adeptness for learning new technologies. What if we are to reverse the scenario? How adept are experienced executives in picking up current workplace tools and the technology stacks of the future?

In my experience, I have encountered a learning curve from the reverse perspective: Working with executives with over 15 years of experience in the field, they know Word and PowerPoint like the back of their hands, but are lost in the abyss of current workplace tools.

Knowing traditional workplace tools are no longer enough; to thrive in today’s digital economy and workplace, and continue to be prepared for the future, employees must know a lot more.

Download The Change Generation™ Report: How Millennials and Generation Z are Redefining Work

I challenge the HR manager to consider if candidates know the following:

  • How to use cloud storage systems like Dropbox, Google Drive and/or Onedrive;
  • Workplace collaboration platforms like Slack, Asana and/or Trello;
  • Design softwares like Adobe Suite, Canva, Prezi or Pixlr; and
  • Publishing platforms like WordPress, Hootsuite, Social Sprout, and LinkedIn?

Digitalization is changing the way we work and the workplace is evolving. Our opinions of the next generation along with the skills and assets they bring to the table should evolve with it.