The generation gap is perhaps no larger than when it comes to job hunting. Recent college grads are finding out that the communication strategies they've grown up with don't work in the real world.
In this blog, I've often stressed the power of communication. Maybe more important that what you have to say is that you have an awareness of the person with whom you're trying to communicate. In other words, what you're trying to say may be perfectly fine, but if you don't consider how it's going to be received by the person you're talking to due to his particular background, expectations, or culture, then you run a big risk of being shut out.
Such communication misfires can result in hurt feelings and hostility, but they can also manifest themselves in lost opportunities.
That seems to be the case lately between 20-somethings seeking work and hiring managers across the nation. Hiring managers are reporting an increase in casual communications like text messaging, e-mails using text lingo, messages sent via mobile devices, and even Friend invitations from MySpace or Facebook.
While text-messaging lingo might be completely natural to these young people — indeed, for some it's the only way they communicate — they fail to notice that those in positions of authority (who tend to be older) find such methods of communication disrespectful.
Some hiring managers have received thank you notes from job candidates via mobile devices. These messages are filled with text lingo and smiley face emoticons. To "Generation Text" this is an after-interview courtesy, but the form it takes comes across to an older hiring manager as insincere, rushed, and a little shallow. They may not want that type of person interacting with the clients at their company.
Some managers have gotten text messages sent to their private cells just because the number happened to appear on their business cards. This borders on infringement of privacy.
One hiring manager reported that one job candidate sent her a Friend invite from her personal Facebook page. "Friend" is not a level of intimacy you can assume with someone you met only long enough to interview with.
I'm aware that these perceptions will someday dissipate. After all, nobody these days frowns upon you if you don't write in longhand using calligraphy-proper penmanship. But job hunting will always require you to put yourself in the light a hiring manager expects to see you in.
Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.