How to Escape Stereotyping in your Job Search

We all know that job searching sucks and one of the big de-motivators during the job hunt is the regular stereotyping. Why do you get stereotyped and how do you avoid it during your job search and job interview?

I have a list of Dos and Don’ts for every generation which can help you to stay clear of stereotyping, so you can score the interview and secure your next job.  I’ve grouped them but many could be relevant to you even if you’re not part of that ‘generation’.


Millennials (in your 20s):




  • Demonstrate a genuine desire to learn, ask lots of questions (without the, “like”, “you know”, “kinda like” language) and demonstrate active listening skills.
  • Ditch the overly trendy clothing (at least for the interview) unless you’re applying in a creative field where that is perhaps expected.
  • Don’t “go out” the night before. You’ll look tired, you’ll respond sluggishly and maybe even smell like you feel.
  • Read the job ad and if you send a cover letter or resume, address the Key Selection Criteria and please don’t make them search for your mobile number. You get 10 seconds on your resume like everyone else.
  • Do remove your funky mobile voice box message and replace it with something more appropriate (at least whilst job hunting) and if you live with your flatmate or parents (and particularly if you’ve provided a land line), ensure to brief them about your job search pursuits. ‘I really don’t have much time to explain why I am calling.’


Gen Y

Gen Y (in your 30s):




  • Show up with a commitment to work longer than 12 months and say so in the interview.
  • Know whether you are a strategist or a tactical player, and how you get results. What matters is ‘facts, figures and numbers’, so ensure to substantiate the statements in your resume, your cover letter and your examples during the job interview. 
  • Enunciate and articulate clearly and in a business like manner. “How are you today?” is preferable to “How are ya?”
  • Don’t text, talk or tweet on your phone while waiting in the lobby. Better yet, turn the phone off.
  • Do not show up with your children.
  • Avoid the trendy Start Up lingo and buzzwords in your application documents and during the interview. Success comes from people who know how to do stuff.  Use ‘doing’ words as much as possible.


gen x

For Mid-Level Managers / Gen X (in your 40s):



  • Know your PAR — Problem, Action, Result — cold.  Recruiters and employers need to see you are results driven.
  • Don’t interupt interviewers when they are speaking. It’s better to be safe than sorry, even if you are excited or pretty confident about where they’re headed.
  • Understand that recruiters and employers are looking for a cultural fit and they are certainly not interested in your job with McDonalds on page 7 of your resume in 1989. Keep it down to 3 pages max and focus on your last 10 years of work experience.
  • Don’t talk about your salary expectations until you get to the 2nd interview if you want to retain your position on the shortlist (unless asked of course). Oh and … Mortgage pressure is not a good subject during job interviews.
  • Be realistic in your salary expectations. It only takes about 5 mouse clicks to get an idea of your previous earnings.
  • Know your brand differentiators and how they make you unique as a managerial candidate. To manage means for most business to know how to ‘move’ people to action not to provide death by PowerPoint and be an email champion. Show what you can do to make things happen.
  • Don’t use arrogant or unfriendly body language like crossing your arms or slouching and remember a vital element of networking and meeting is credentials and business cards not your 500 LinkedIn connections.
  • Do remember that success in Company X doesn’t mean success in Company Y. The steps that matter are: Impress – Proof – Deliver.

baby boomersFor Baby Boomers (aged 50+):


  • Show up with social media and networking savvy. If you love your Nokia 6110 leave it in your pocket.
  • Take a leaf from the Gen X managerial candidate — know your PAR cold.
  • Show that you continue to learn and that you are all about self-education and improvement.
  • Be prepared to talk about yourself as a commodity. What does your report card say? What does your year-end report show in terms of statistical numbers, successes or failures? Quantify your results. Remember the FFN – Facts Figures Numbers.
  • Don’t do the name dropping. Your LinkedIn profile has that covered.
  • Don’t use old school tactics such as, “I’d like to meet up with you for lunch,” or “Where do you golf?” Fifteen years ago, this was cool. Not anymore.
  • Be prepared with small talk but focus on the business, current technology or a recent article. Make sure to come prepared. I can tell if you are fluffing. This shows you are up-to-date and understand the direction the company is headed.
  • Don’t come with too much expectation: ‘Know’ that you’ve got other potential options. Having the attitude that this is the one big chance only hurts your chances of getting the job. Slow down, relax and know that less talking is more. Keep it short and simple and avoid ‘in the beginning, there was fire’ type explanations.


C suite

For Executive C-Suite Candidates of Any Age:



  • Research the organisation’s strategic initiatives and be prepared to discuss your possible solutions.
  • Be prepared to take multiple psychological tests and/or profile assessments.
  • Demonstrate that you want to learn. Don’t be over confident. Humility is tops.
  • Have the business acumen to handle financial and cost-cutting conversations and substantiate your statements with examples.
  • Don’t name drop and don’t talk about how much you work. Good executives have a work life balance and know how to achieve it.
  • Don’t act entitled. Leadership is more than just a title.
  • Don’t use tools from five years ago. Today’s business world is all about learning and why you as a candidate are so unique that the company must have you on board.




For Long-Term Unemployed Candidates of Any Age:



  • Do maintain eye contact, exude confidence, and sit up straight.
  • Don’t over explain yourself or your personal situation. Repeat multi segment questions to ensure that you ‘answer it right’.
  • Don’t show desperation. If your nervous or your palms sweat, figure out a fix before going into the interview.
  • Make a list that spells out what you’ve been doing over the past months. Have you mastered social networking skills like LinkedIn? Did you start an online networking support group? Have you been volunteering? These translate into the adage, “I am a self-starter.”
  • Do read the company website, identify the required core competencies and speak to them in the interview. 
  • Take a leaf from the Millennials — don’t be afraid to ask, “Who will contact me next? Who is the final decision maker? When will the follow up occur?”


These are some of the essentials if you want to get the job . Apply some or all and remember to hunt wisely!