When we left Hannah, it was 11.30 am in Slottsskogen, Gothenburg, she was sipping her organic coffee from KafeMarmelad and munching on her deconstructed avocado toast. Her outside demeanor still is the perfect image of a modern, plugged-in, and connected millennial whose main pursuit in life is “staying connected”.

However an eagle-eyed observer would see that her downcast eyes permeate the pain and unease common to those who are relatively secure in their beliefs but are shaken by external factors beyond their control.

She thought her over-confidence could have been construed as arrogance. She was afraid her choice of a bright lime green Calvin Klein pant-suit may have blinded some delicate eyesights and fashion sensibilities. She even reprimanded herself for mentioning her affiliation with an environmentally-focused political party. She also felt she was wrong in affirming that she wanted to use her job as an opportunity to change the world.

With the organizations she had a positive job application journey with, the entire talent search was handled by a smart system using the complex algorithms and predictive thinking of artificial intelligence. It occurred to her that, maybe, as a tech savvy individual, she came to her interviews with manufacturing companies with a prejudiced mindset and failed at making a great impression.  

Then, she pictures the scene from another perspective.

Real Connection or lack thereof!

In general, Hannah craves real connection and she prides herself in being someone genuine but a bit too straightforward for her own good. She connects with people on a deeper level, she wants to align with their thought process, their ideology their views and perspective.

That’s it !!

This. This was the primary reason why her interactions with these companies led to nothing of substance. There was nothing in her resume or her presentation that prevented these recruiters from giving her a chance, or at least a second interview. She rewinds again her 5 interview performances in slow motion. She wants to pinpoint when and where she should have noticed the tell-tale signs that she would not fit in.

She did not belong or would not belong in any of these companies!

Looking back at the people she met and the conversation she had, she is still lingering in that state of discomfort and muted puzzlement. Through all the job interviews, she felt like she was an alien and they spoke different language. She was being talked to, not spoken to. A great difference for whoever understands the subtleties of communication patterns.

Also, her interviewers lacked that edginess and energy you get from the tech savvy entrepreneurs she had been idolizing since young age. Perhaps subdued happiness and moderate contentment were common behavioral indicators of job satisfaction with these organizations,  but Hannah wasn’t having it. They really did not engage her or connected with her.

Furthermore, the lack of female representation at the onset did not bode well for her own future prospects. As a career-minded person, attaining leadership position within the first three years of working, is part of her 5 year plan to achieving engineering greatness. Not seeing more female leadership (even on the website), or neither being told (during the interviews) about the pathways and programs put in place to support her foreseeable trek towards managerial positions, did not convince her that she was really welcome or in for the long haul.

Now she gets it! She did not get called back because they obviously felt the lack of mutual connection. No loss here. Moving on, moving on.

It is 11.45 am and the queasy feeling Hannah had is gone.

Now, she knows why she did not get any second interviews with any of the 5 manufacturing companies she interviewed with.  

These companies were not prepared for her profile. But in all fairness, was she really prepared for the traditional work space that maybe not always was portrayed in media or business classes? Did she have unreasonable expectations?

Question raised: should Hannah change to fit the mold or should manufacturing companies adapt to millennials? Or should there be a middle ground? If so, what is that middle ground?

Prudence Kolong