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More Than 50 Percent of All Hiring Managers Are Under 35 — Here’s What They’re Looking For

They don't have the same expectations as their older counterparts

By Georgene Huang

When we imagine a hiring manager, often we picture someone who’s well into their career; perhaps we envision a middle-aged professional who has a very specific idea about what they want from a candidate. But research shows this is beginning to change.

As millennials have pervaded the workplace, they’ve also moved into hiring roles. In a recent survey, we looked at how hiring professionals — both millennials and older employees — perceive female job seekers. We found that 57.92 percent of respondents (comprised of HR professionals, internal recruiters, hiring managers, external HR consultants, third-party recruiters and staffing professionals) were under 35 years old.

While the report found some shocking biases among hiring managers, these judgments were less prevalent among younger internal and external hiring professionals.

By understanding what hiring professionals want and expect from job seekers, you can better prepare yourself for a job interview. You'll be able to show who you are and what you have to offer in the right way. Here’s what you need to know about what the newest generation of hiring managers is looking for.

More: How to Read Body Language so You Don't Miss Important Cues at Work

Be yourself

In our study, we showed hiring managers images of professional women of varying ages and races who had different hairstyles, clothing, body shapes and demeanor. The respondents chose three adjectives they felt best described each woman. Then they identified the five women they’d be most likely to hire.

One of the women pictured had visible tattoos, and of the respondents over age 45, only 13.25 percent said they’d consider hiring that woman. Of the hiring managers under 35, however, 28.72 percent said they would.

Results were similar for both a heavier woman and an older woman. Just 9.6 percent of those over 45 said they would hire the heavier candidate, but 17.3 percent of those under 35 would. And even though the older-looking candidate appeared to be close in age to the 55-plus-year-old hiring managers, only 15.38 percent of them said they would hire her. Of those under 35, 29.76 percent would consider giving her the job.

It’s important to recognize that younger hiring managers may be less concerned with how you look and more interested in who you are and your skills. Go into your interview confidently, and be yourself!

More: An Inclusive Environment Is Critical for Workplaces — Here Are the 7 Signs Yours Isn't

Friendliness matters

Not too long ago, the general perception of the workplace was that it was a strictly professional environment. Coworkers were not often friends, and employers didn’t take much interest in employees' lives outside the office. Now, organizations know the importance of recognizing employees as whole people. As a result, hiring professionals are trying to get to know candidates in a more comprehensive way.

In our survey, 46.02 percent of respondents under 35 said friendliness was an important trait for candidates to have. In comparison, only 28.92 percent of respondents over 45 prioritized this quality. So keep in mind when encountering younger hiring managers that they may be more likely to want to form a connection with you.

Some of us don’t have the easiest time opening up to strangers, much less someone interviewing us — but doing your research before an interview will help. Most companies will give you the name of the person who will be interviewing you, so take some time to check online to see what you can find out about them and look for similarities. You might find that you went to the same college or have similar interests. If you can home in on any similarities, casually bring up these topics during the interview.

Still, you should be careful not to come off as disingenuous or inappropriate. Don’t force yourself to mention a connection that would seem totally off topic. But if you saw on LinkedIn that the hiring manager went to the same college as you, feel free to bring that up when he or she asks about your educational background.

More: 4 Strategies for Coping With People Who Talk Too Much at Work

Beef up your leadership skills

Even if you’re not applying for a leadership position, it’s worth your while to sell yourself in part on your leadership skills. Hiring managers are trying to prepare for their future talent needs, so anyone who demonstrates strong leadership skills will be seen as someone with potential — and as someone who will be a particularly valuable asset to the team.

In fact, 46.37 percent of internal and external hiring professionals under 35 said leadership ability was particularly important to look for when hiring. Comparatively, 40.96 percent of those over 45 said the same thing.

So, if you aren’t already doing so, take every possible opportunity to develop your leadership skills. Take online courses. Volunteer to organize charity events. Ask to head up a project at your current job. Doing so will give you valuable experiences. By talking about how you’re proactive and how you handled these situations during an interview, you can show hiring professionals you have the skills they want.

Originally published on Fairygodboss.

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