Bridging the Generational Gap: Hiring Strategies for Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers

Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers might speak almost entirely different languages and respond to different hiring strategies, but they’re all valuable assets in a diverse workplace. If you could peek into the mind of one, you’d likely see different process and a different sort of culture expectation than you’d find in another. Unless you can alter your approach as needed, you might miss out on some of the best possible hires.

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Each generation brings something a little different to the table, and they all require something a bit different in return. Some think about compensation, and some want flexibility. Some need positive reinforcement. By understanding who you’re trying to reach, you can create a flexible strategy that works.

Millennials: Collaborators who Expect Technology

They didn’t invent tech, but Millennials are the first generation to grow up with it. For someone older, it’s hard to imagine life where home computers and mobile phones have practically always existed. For Millennials, it’s hard to imagine what life might have been like without those things.

People born between 1981 and 2000 not only embrace technology, they expect it. So one of the biggest hurdles for some recruiters to maneuver is adapting to the demand for tech. Does the job application process work, and work well, using nothing but a mobile device? If it’s clumsy or makes the process harder than it could be, they might be the first group of candidates to opt out of applying and move on.

Interviewing is another issue to think about. The tried and true interview questions, which many recruiters think of as “the classics,” might not work as well for drawing out answers. In fact, they might be downright confusing to people who were raised in a time when everyone got recognition for participation. They’re used to affirmations, and might wonder if something is wrong without them.

An Inspirity report, “Obstacles to Hiring: How to Overcome Nine Common Challenges,” suggests that understanding a Millennial’s work ethic and aspirations takes a different sort of question. Asking, “What is your biggest weakness?” might leave some people without a real answer. Introspection isn’t a Millennial’s strongest suit.

But lacking a solid response to a traditional interview question doesn’t truly reflect on his qualifications for the job. Inspirity recommends incorporating questions about charities and volunteer work that interest the candidate, how they prefer to receive job performance feedback, and whether they prefer to invent things or work in a leadership role.

Generation Xers: A Self-Reliant Tech Generation

The Gen X group has a pretty solid footing in the tech and non-tech world. They’re adaptable. Childhood had corded phones and pay phones. And for many, cable TV didn’t arrive until sometime in adolescence. “Computers” was just a class in middle or high school, and many people didn’t own one until later.

This age group also loves technology. They invented a lot of it. So while they might be accustomed to an older-fashioned approach to sourcing and know how to issue the correct responses in an interview, they know technology and definitely appreciate it when applying for a job. Gen X understands and appreciates tech as a convenience that makes life better.

Employees in Generation X are some of the first to jump ship if the job isn’t right, says Spark Hire. They know that they can make it on their own two feet, because they’ve done it before. And that self-reliance is an exceptional quality to have in an employee.

According to Inspirity, Gen Xers are likely the most independent people in any workplace, but probably aren’t the most loyal. That’s because they’re skeptical about job security, and have learned to depend on themselves as a result watching jobs come and go with the economy’s ups and downs. They prefer to take charge of developing their own skills, and have a high expectation of working to live, not living to work. Work / life balance is important.

Instead of the financial perks that older generations might have responded to, this group of people needs to know that there’s room for growth (even lateral) and opportunities for expanding on their skill set. Flex time or working from home can also help attract and keep them happy.

Baby Boomers: Competitive Hard Workers

Age discrimination is becoming an issue with Baby Boomers. That’s despite the fact that some of the greatest minds in tech were born between 1946 and 1964. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Tim Cook all come from that generation. If you’re aiming for a diverse workplace, it’s a good idea to not count them out.

Almost half of all people in this age group look for jobs using a mobile device. That might surprise you, but Forbes says that it’s true. Just because they didn’t grow up with tech doesn’t mean they aren’t savvy.

Baby Boomers have worked hard, paid their dues and they’re known as flexible people who are willing to learn and adapt. They can also be anti-establishment, says Inspirity. But as for loyalty, you might not find a better group. That’s what Extraordinary Team says, and goes on to explain that competitiveness and upward mobility isn’t as much of an issue.

They want a good job to keep, so retention isn’t as much of a factor. But they also want a salary that reflects their experience, and good benefits. Healthcare is a major plus.

Experience is a big reason to focus on hiring Baby Boomers. They might not be the most tech-savvy group overall, but they have years of work experience that a bit of training in a younger recruit can’t replace. They’ve seen the ups and downs and weathered the storms.

Probably the most important element in the hiring process is sourcing effectively. If you can’t find candidates and they can’t find you, you’re stuck with the same ratio of applicants to qualified hires.

But if you use real-time candidate matching technology, your job ad will find people in every group – Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers – right where they’re looking. And where they’re looking is a mobile device. Millennials grew up with tech, and Gen Xers invented much of it. But Baby Boomers are also tech savvy. It’s the right approach for sourcing and creating a diverse workplace.

Candidate matching doesn’t happen accidentally. That’s why RealMatch developed this technology to make it not just easier, but automatic.

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