What Does Your Generation Say About You?

As companies look to hire, they will be interviewing and evaluating candidates spanning three age generations.  There has been a lot of discourse regarding generational characteristics.  Understanding the differences between these generations is more important now than ever.  As interviewers meet with a multitude of candidates, they will come face to face with these attitudinal differences.   Generational characteristics could be one more variable to affect the success of landing a job. So what is your generation saying about you? 

First are the baby boomers. There are about 78 million baby boomers that were born roughly between 1946 and 1964.  Baby boomers are characteristically loyal, work-centric, independent, goal-oriented and competitive.  They believe that Gen-Xers and Y’s lack work ethic and commitment to the workplace, and should conform to a culture of overwork.  Baby boomers equate work and position with self-worth; they are clever, resourceful and strive to win.  Finally, Boomers believe in hierarchal structure, and may have a hard time adjusting to workplace flexibility trends.

Generation X is defined as anyone born between 1965 and 1980.  Gen-Xers are the 46 million middle children who are sandwiched between 80 million baby boomers and 78 million millennials. Generation X has an entrepreneurial spirit, thrives on diversity, challenge, responsibility and creative input.  Gen-Xers were witness to the effects of their parent’s burnout and layoffs, so they entered the workplace with different work ethic and culture than previous generations. Unlike the Boomers, Generation X places a premium on family time, and has a different attitude about work. They are ambitious and hardworking, but value work/life balance. 

Finally, there are those who were born between 1980 and 2000, and are known as Generation Y (or the Millennials).  Generation Y is smart, creative, optimistic, achievement-oriented and tech-savvy.  Millennials are connected all over the world by email, instant messages, text messages and the Internet.  This high speed, tech-oriented generation needs a variety of stimulating and creative activity in the workplace.  Millennials prefer working in teams, seeks out creative challenges, personal growth and meaningful careers. They want to make friends with people at work, and work well with diverse coworkers.  Some of the most noted characteristics of the Millennials are a need for constant reinforcement and a short attention span.

So the next time you walk in for an interview, size up your generational characteristics versus that of the interviewer.  If you are a Baby Boomer interviewing with a Millennial, it might be a good idea to emphasize your digital knowledge over your loyalty.  If you are a Gen-Xer interviewing with a Baby Boomer, it would be wise to highlight your work ethic and commitment to the job. 

Of course not everyone from their generation exhibits these traits, but remember, sometimes it is more about how you are perceived than what is reality. Play up your generational knowledge to your advantage and it just might pay off.


4 Responses to “What Does Your Generation Say About You?”

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