How do I compete with millennials?

Career Advisor

Carolyn Marie Smith

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Print this page Email A Friend!

Dear Career Advisor:

My question may seem a bit selfish, but I am getting a bit anxious as a result of the situation and I need some advice. I now work in a department of my company in which I am about 20 years senior to the next-oldest employee. There is a pending position for promotion for which I have strong interest, however, I am also aware that other team members also have interest. How can I successfully compete for this position against these millennials and overcome the age barrier?

Yours truly,

Jeanette W


Dear Jeanette,

Thank you for your question. No, we do not consider you selfish for wanting to be selected to serve your company at a higher level. What we do not want is for you to allow anxiety to overwhelm you, thereby preventing you from focusing on the competencies you have to offer. It is important to focus on your strengths and not on your inadequacies or your competition.

Your first task is to determine what knowledge, skills, and abilities are desirable for the position. Next, critically evaluate your competencies in each of these areas. Having completed your self-assessment, begin to take remedial action and consider strategies for self-development. For example, your millennial competitors are very likely to have excellent technological skills, whereas yours might not be as strong. Consider taking short online certification courses to develop your competencies and proficiencies. Also, broaden your knowledge of leadership and management issues through reading or by participating in webinars or other training modalities.

Recognising that for many positions, employability skills are often more highly valued than technical skills, do ensure that you polish those skills and are prepared, if required, to cite examples of how you have demonstrated each.

Let your age be your competitive advantage. Use your maturity and experience to demonstrate your effectiveness in specific employability skills such as problem solving — which makes one excellent in customer service and relations; taking initiative; planning and organising events or workflow; and self-managing, especially as it relates to work delivery and efficiency.

Your personal preparation for the potential vacancy should be similar to any other job search. Begin to update and modernise your cover letter and résumé. Ensure that your cover letter not only conveys your loyalty to the company, but remove any doubt that you are more focused on retirement planning than on committed service. Avoid clichés such as “I want to make a positive contribution”; instead, be specific about to what contributions you will make. Tailor your résumé to demonstrate your achievements by including data; reduce the emphasis on dates. Consider using a functional format for your résumé presentation instead of the chronological format.

Lastly, do not take it for granted that your potential competition will only be from people within your organisation; be prepared to show your marketability and public image. Review your online presence, for example, update your LinkedIn profile and ensure that your online footprint is professional. Be prepared for opportunities wherever they may arise.

All the best.


Career Advisor


Carolyn Marie Smith is associate vice-president, student services, at Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, Manchester. Submit your questions to her at


Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon