Over the past 50 years, generational perspectives on the workplace have dramatically transformed. Baby Boomers spend their entire career within one firm or industry. Generation X, “the disloyal generation,” has a more pro-active approach to their career. They pursue opportunities that serve their best interests. Not limiting themselves to one company or industry. So what about Millennials? We are the dynamic generation. Our breadth of career interests and passions makes us unique when compared to others. This differentiating factor unfortunately has also created disconnect amongst generations. Millennials are often perceived as being indecisive, unfocused, or disengaged in the workplace due to our range of interest. As a result, many Millennials have created work identities that fail to embody their true self. With this post I hope to accomplish two specific goals: shed light on the value in being your authentic self in the workplace and encourage individuals who don’t see themselves pursuing a traditional path to create their own opportunities.
“It is a competitive disadvantage if you are not authentic because your authenticity is at the heart of your power.”
In “Expect to Win” author Carla Harris addresses the significance of authenticity in the workplace. This statement emphasizes the power and value in our individual perspective. A question many interns and entry level employees ask is “How do I add value to the team or firm?” When a recruiter reviews your resume they see some of the experiences that have shaped your perspective. Therefore, if they decide to hire you it is a confirmation that they value your perspective. So a simple way to add value is by doing two things:
- Being authentic
- Sharing your unique perspective.
Carla also goes on to mention, “If you bring your authentic self to the table, people will trust you and people will gravitate toward you.” Business is built on relationships and relationships are formed by making genuine connections. This process begins with finding a connection point. However, not all potentially connection points are identifiable by simply looking at someone. So you have to be open to sharing who you are with people. Some connection points that have worked well for me are sharing my study abroad experience or my experience as a first generation American.
Although many millennials are able to find a company where they feel comfortable to explore their diverse set of interests and be their authentic self some are unable. As a result, many Millennials have decided to become entrepreneurs and create their own workspace. Julian Mitchel, an award winning digital strategist and content creator, in his Forbes article series “Getting Paid to be Yourself” examines entrepreneurs that have leveraged their unique talents to fulfill their passions. My key takeaway from the series is that it is possible to do the multitude of things you want to accomplish if you are authentic. The right opportunities come to those who show their true self. It’s the Law of attraction.
Moving forward I encourage you to spend 10 minutes reflecting on these four questions and applying these to your career search:
- What are my talents?
- What are my passions?
- Am I comfortable being my authentic self? Why?
- What do I want to be my life’s purpose and how will I use my talents, passions, and perspectives to achieve it?