When it comes to talking about work, Millennials have received a lot of buzz over the past decade. There have been countless pieces on how to hire them, how to manage them, and so on. Now Gen Z has started to dominate the headlines, despite having just entered the job market. But what about the rest of the workforce? The Baby Boomers keep working, Gen X certainly isn’t going anywhere, and nor are the (recently coined) “Xennials.” Together, these three populations outnumber their younger counterparts, making up more than 70 percent of today’s workers. As these folks stay in the market for jobs, it’s important to stay informed and up-to-date on where they’re coming from, where they’re at, and what their experience can bring to the table.
As one of the most talked-about generations of all time, the Baby Boomers have made an indelible mark on the way the world works. Of the 76 million born between 1946 and 1964, at least a third (roughly 27 million) remain actively employed—which comes as no surprise for a generation known to be work-centric. Far from passive, this group has demonstrated a purpose-driven and goal-oriented approach to work for upwards of 30 years. In addition to their experience, Boomers are known to change jobs less frequently than younger generations, offering their loyalty in exchange for an honest wage and decent benefits. Employers can benefit from the Boomers’ deep insights; for example, they remember how things got done before technology took over. Their perspectives are useful, especially for project management, mentoring peers, and helping onboard entry-level workers. Because of their dedicated and driven work ethics, Boomers can add value to everything from spearheading new initiatives to consulting and part-time positions. But take care in sourcing Boomers. Informed by the days of landlines and classifieds, their communication style differs and leans towards a more traditional hiring process. When recruiting Boomers, skip the cute copy and video interviewing. You’ll have much better luck sticking to formal job descriptions and phone screens to get familiar with these candidates.
Gen X, or the “middle child” of generations, is roughly made up of those born between 1965 and 1976. This generation makes for individualistic and entrepreneurial employees firmly entrenched in the workforce. Because their upbringings are commonly associated with the concept of “latchkey kids,” these workers display a strong sense of independence, able to hit the ground running and tackle whatever comes their way (while maintaining some semblance of work-life balance). With an average of 20 years’ work experience, Gen X currently accounts for 51 percent of leadership roles globally, a number that’s primed to grow in the coming years. Already qualified for the bulk of positions out there, Gen Xers know their value. They entered the workforce around the same time that digital communications became prominent in the standard workday, but they much prefer email over Twitter and Facebook. Their tech skills are on par with younger generations and their education isn’t far off, either, but this doesn’t mean they’re looking for the same things. As this generation reaches the mid-point in their careers, employers eager to recruit Gen X talent need to spend time with them, recognize their goals, and offer up developmental opportunities. Highlight Gen Xers’ interests, such as social change, creative innovation and a flexible workspace, to pique their interest and get the conversation started. When it comes to retaining them, Gen Xers expect employers to keep the ball rolling. Believed to be the first ones to leave a job that isn’t the right fit, Gen Xers need you to know what really keeps them around: Room for growth. Take advantage of this. Their willingness to learn and adapt can bring strength to any organization.
With limited criteria for defining the range of the more recent generations, the idea of “Xennials” makes perfect sense. Per Merriam-Webster, these are people born between 1977 and 1983. This microgeneration grew up playing computer games like Oregon Trail and they set up their first email addresses in college. Xennials are now anywhere from their mid-30’s to their early 40’s; they are workers with a solid 10 to 15 years of experience who vividly remember life before the internet took over. By serving as a bridge between two demographics, Xennials maintain a unique vantage point in the workplace. There’s a balance of Gen X momentum and Millennial idealism in these professionals; today, they’re ready to elevate their status and carve out a name for themselves. With advanced education, lofty aspirations and a front-row seat to tech advancements, these workers get it and are willing and able to put in the effort. Look to Xennials for roles at every level, including the C-Suite. The Xennial background and worldviews enable them to connect with workers of all ages and keep things moving. To recruit and retain this ambitious lot, create a place where they want to work by offering a clear career path that illustrates their potential within the organization. Like Gen Xers, showing them that there’s room to grow is the key to early engagement. And because of their Millennial-esque need for purpose, Xennials care to hear about and connect with your organizational culture. Knowing the strengths of each generation can help you find the candidates who best suit your hiring needs. And in the ultra-competitive tech market, it’s even more important to consider generational differences when sourcing, engaging and hiring talent. To learn more about what these different demographics value in their careers today, check out Dice’s Ideal Employer Report. Ryan Leary helps create the processes, ideas and innovation that drives RecruitingDaily. He’s RecruitingDaily’s in-house expert for anything related to sourcing, tools or technology. A lead generation and brand buzz building machine, he has built superior funnel systems for some of the industry’s top HR Tech and Recruitment brands. He is a veteran of the online community and a partner at RecruitingDaily.