Main image of article How to Reach Out to Different Generations of Tech Candidates

Many businesses today want to create a more inclusive work environment by hiring technical talent across the board, from Baby Boomers to Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z.

However, because tech pros from each generation have different career goals and perspectives, adapting your employee value proposition (EVP) and communication style in a way that resonates with each age group can take your outreach and engagement efforts to the next level.

Here’s a look at the career and work priorities across the four main generations in the tech workforce and the best ways to grab their attention during the recruitment process.

Address their Universal Priorities

While the most effective outreach takes a tech candidate’s specific career goals and interests into account, there are some things that matter to all tech job seekers regardless of generation, explained Teresa Freeman, speaker, career coach and author of, “Soft Skills I Learned the Hard Way.”

All job seekers want to work for a company whose values align with their own and whose mission they can support, Freeman explained. They want to understand the benefits that an organization offers its customers and how they fit in before they engage.

Indeed, a survey by Glassdoor found that over 79 percent of respondents would consider a company’s mission and purpose before applying. That’s why the best outreach messages for technology pros are rooted in value, Freeman said. In fact, values-based recruiting campaigns are highly effective in recruiting tech pros.

When it comes to relaying your message, video is more effective than the written word, noted Ryan Jenkins, generational expert and author. Candidates from all generations look for videos that depict the company culture and provide insights into what it's like to be an employee before they decide to move forward.

You can provide an overview in your initial outreach message; just make sure to include a link to recruitment and employee testimonial videos. Once a candidate feels aligned with your company, you can begin addressing their generational and individual needs.

Appealing to Baby Boomers

Given their vast experience, Boomers care most about the role and their day-to-day responsibilities. They want to be able to use their cumulative knowledge and education (two out of three Baby Boomers have a college degree) to do interesting and challenging work.

To grab the attention of these senior-level pros, provide a detailed job description and emphasize how they can contribute and learn new skills (this generation wants to remain relevant!). Research also indicates that Baby Boomers enjoy collaborative learning and working in teams. Highlighting mentoring and reverse mentoring programs in job ads, videos and outreach emails can help you attract both Baby Boomers and Gen Z tech pros as well.

Surprisingly, Baby Boomers and Gen Z are more alike in the workforce than you might think. For instance, surveys show that Boomers and Gen Z list meaningful and challenging work as their top attractor and motivator, so similar messaging will resonate with workers on both ends of the spectrum.

Finally, Boomers equate career longevity with strong employers and industries. Before they engage, Boomers want to see proof that your company is a top place to work; if your company is on a Best Place to Work list (for example), that can validate your approach in the eyes of Boomers.

As you might expect, Boomers prefer to communicate via phone, email or in-person. However, they will watch videos that highlight your company and workplace.

Appealing to Gen X

Gen X-ers (the oldest Millennials) may view your opportunity as their second-to-last job. Given that, they are interested in leveraging everything they’ve learned thus far, acquiring new knowledge, and having opportunities to advance their career.

It’s important to emphasize the substantive nature of the role when reaching out to Gen X-ers. If you’re recruiting for a startup, for instance, make sure to sell the access to senior leaders. If you’re recruiting for a large company, emphasize the proven career trajectory of current tech employees, Freeman said.

Younger workers automatically assume that you’re going to provide training. What they want to know is how you plan to go about it. Consider sharing a training regimen and formal development program to attract Gen X-ers, especially if they want to move into management.

Finally, while you can call or text Gen X-ers, this generation is very comfortable with email (like their Boomer counterparts).

How to Appeal to Millennials

Millennials have different priorities than their predecessors. They tend to value happiness over work. For instance, they were the first generation to prioritize the city they’d be working in over the job. That was a game changer, Jenkins said.

Plus, they are more likely to have young families, so many are seeking greater flexibility. To appeal to their desire for work-life balance, emphasize lifestyle perks when describing your EVP in outreach messaging and content. If your organization can offer flexible or hybrid work schedules, it certainly helps you attract a broader candidate pool, including Millennials.

Millennials are also looking for apprenticeship-style opportunities where they can be coached and mentored by senior tech professionals. They want to work independently but receive direction, as well. To attract Millennials, prove that you are willing to invest in them by spending more time with them in interviews and phone screens, and take the time to describe your mentoring programs.

Also, both Millennials and Gen Z are interested in environmental sustainability, social issues and DEIB. According to a recent survey, 60 percent of Millennials expect an employer to demonstrate commitment to DEIB. Nearly four in 10 say they have rejected work assignments due to ethical concerns, while more than one-third have turned down employers that do not align with their values.

As you are probably aware, social media, texting and instant messaging are the best ways to communicate with the emerging generations of tech pros.

How to Appeal to Gen Z

Gen Z is the first generation of tech pros to value job stability and core benefits over flashy perks.

After witnessing what happened during the pandemic, they are a bit more risk-averse, Freeman noted. To attract Gen Z, emphasize longevity and programs that foster professional development and growth such as project rotation, mentoring and stretch assignments.

Gen Z’s collective experiences also have them craving social connection. Promoting your company’s commitment to community involvement and building social capital can help you engage this relationship-starved generation. As the most racially and ethnically diverse generation, Gen Z also expects companies to have a strong commitment to DEIB.

Gen Z employees are looking for leaders who understand them and companies that truly embrace technology and innovation, not just give lip service to it. In fact, Gen Z will run the other way if they think you’re leading them on. It’s important to be completely transparent with candidates throughout the recruiting process.