How to be the type of graduate managers take seriously

Young professionals are rarely taken seriously at work. (Shutterstock)

As a millennial, it's not uncommon for you to be ignored, taken for granted, and be underestimated at the beginning of your career. But you can change that.

The first few years of your career are usually the most difficult. Being at the bottom of the food chain once again in your life (First in Grade 1, then in Grade 8, and then when varsity started) comes with preconceived notions that you’re just like ‘all the others.’ Your potential is immediately hijacked by the generalisation that you’re text and selfie obsessed with an overblown sense of entitlement, lazy, in need of spoon feeding and prone to immature hissy fits.

All in all, clients, customers, and managers underestimate your abilities and deem you ill-equipped to handle real responsibility. So as a product of Gen Y, how do you change their perceptions?

Dress the part.

Yeah so Silicon Valley allows casual, skater, hipster and a ‘come as you are’ dress code and while employee morale is becoming more and more important for companies, not all of them have evolved - despite whether you think they should or not.

Read: Things you can get away with when you’ve started your new job

You have to adapt. Look around the office; what are your co-workers (especially those currently holding the position you’d like to be in some day) wearing? You don’t have to lose your unique style completely, but dressing it up a little will make others take you more seriously.

The last thing you want is for a client, customer or the new manager to doubt your experience because you look too fresh.

Admit it when you don’t know the answer.

As a recent graduate, you aren’t exactly the expert in your industry. It’s time you realise that that’s okay. No one expects you to be. But making as if you are will only count against you. If you don’t have the answer, respond with an honest ‘I don’t know but I will find out and tell you.’

You know what people like more than people that know everything? People that can admit and correct their mistakes gracefully.

There’s nothing more mature and professional than that. Everyone appreciates honesty and will consider you a credible and valuable resource.

Know when to speak. Know when not to.

This goes for introverts, extroverts, and those that fall somewhere in between. If you’re about to say something, consider what your follow up response would be, i.e. be prepared to back up your opinion and idea and be able to articulate it properly if the need arises.

They chose you above all other applicants believing that you have something to contribute.

Read: It’s not just about good grades

There’s nothing to fear when you exit your comfort zone - whether it’s holding your tongue (we’re looking at you, extroverts) or opening your mouth (we’re looking at you, introverts). No matter what you say, at least you’ll be taken seriously, be known as a valuable team member, and most importantly, you’ll be remembered (you know, as opposed to the nameless newbie that’s invisible). And your thoughts might just be amazing, and you would’ve earned the right kind of attention.

The more you practice, the easier it’ll become.

And while you're being the best young professional you can be, you should start looking for your next challenge: a new job and better salary to match. Tell us what you're looking for next and we'll send you the latest job vacancies.