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Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y Competing for Jobs?

Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y Competing for Jobs?

There are essentially three generations of job seekers vying for jobs today: Baby Boomers, Generation X or Gen X, and Generation Y or Millennials. Because of this, job seekers are finding themselves competing with people of all different ages for the same job; people that can bring different experiences and skill sets to the position.

I asked career coaches, advisers and recruiters if there are any patterns in how job seekers from different generations go about the job search. Here are some that they noted:

Baby Boomers: Often show a high level of professionalism and excel in face-to-face interviews. “Baby Boomers know that the job search is ultimately about relationships, and [they] tend to invest the time in the process of developing relationships,” says Lynne Sarikas, executive director of the MBA Career Center at Northeastern University. “They know the value of a handwritten thank-you note.”

Gen X: Tend to utilize both in-person and online communication effectively. “When it comes to overall communication skills and working knowledge of technology, members of Generation X fall squarely between their 20-year-old and 50- to 60-year-old counterparts,” says Maribeth Kuzmeski, author of “The Connectors: How the World’s Most Successful Businesspeople Build Relationships and Win Clients for Life.” “They are used to online job searches, emailing résumés and following up via both email and handwritten notes.”

Millennials: Often adept at using all forms of social media in their job search. They tend to embrace all kinds of technology and use that technology to their advantage, including applying via their smartphone or tablet or following up via creative ways online.
Job Seekers  over 50 years old may be used to looking for work in a newspaper, attending job fairs, dropping by a company to inquire about job leads and speaking to those in their network regarding job opportunities,” says Lavie Margolin, career coach, speaker and author of “Lion Cub Job Search: Practical Job Search Assistance for Practical Job Seekers.” “A younger generation would be more apt to look for jobs online and use social networks to reach out to people for help as opposed to speaking to people face-to-face or giving someone a call.”

So how do job seekers compete with those from other generations? Perhaps it’s by learning from each other and applying a combination of new and tried-and-true job-search tactics. Here are some tips on how job seekers of all generations can be successful in their job hunt.

Embrace both offline and online communication
To get the most out of a job search, try using both online and offline resources. Search for jobs on career websites as well as social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Consider building an online portfolio that houses your résumé along with examples of your work or previous successes, but don’t forget to bring hard copies to an interview, too. Also try meeting with a headhunter or recruiter who specializes in finding jobs in the field for which you’re applying.

Networking works
“Regardless of generation, the single most important thing you can do to support your job search is networking,” Sarikas says. “Identify alumni, former colleagues, friends of friends or family who work in the companies you are interested in as employers. Conduct informational interviews to learn about the company, the culture and the types of roles in your area of interest. Meet as many people as possible who can help support your efforts, and identify how you can help them as well. While you can use the Internet and other tools to identify resources, do your networking in person whenever possible. Have a real conversation.”

Execution matters
“Execution matters — cover letters and résumés must be flawless; no spelling or grammatical errors,” Sarikas says. “You should be well prepared for your interview. Research the company and the people you are meeting. Have questions prepared. Information is easily accessible, so there is no excuse for not being well prepared.”

The power of thank you
Follow up with both an email and a snail mail thank-you note. “Write a handwritten thank-you note to each interviewer and show your enthusiasm for the job as well as your appreciation for their time. It makes them remember you in a positive way,” Sarikas recommends.

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  1. I thought this article shed light on a prevalent problem in the current job market. Coming out of a job as a 40-50 year old and fantasizing about retirement are conflicting ideologies. At this point, creativity is the most important attribute for those older people who are out of work. People need to realize how their skills and experience can apply to a vast amount of different positions, and that going towards a field that you’ve never experienced before can be a great choice. Adaptability is king and how people react to change will dictate how quickly they find work.

  2. Great advice. Embracing an “all of the above” strategy is a winning game plan in today’s economy. Fortunately, I think most 50+ job seekers have by now realized the importance of the Internet and are becoming quick adopters. And young people can definitely learn from their older counterparts about the importance of that face-to-face interview, as well good phone skills.

  3. Job searches have really changed. Now we have to be able to think like a 20 year old and have the experience of a 50 year old.

  4. I especially liked the part about each group taking the knowledge and experience of getting a job from the other groups.

    If the baby boomers don’t embrace the newer technologies they will not be noticed by the employers and miss out on a lot of opportunities.

    If the Gen X and millennials don’t improve on their face-to-face communication skills, they will find it hard to get and/or keep a job

  5. William Parkyn

    Once again this is good information and it makes us Baby boomers realize that we need to be more creative in our job searches. Well I do fall into the category of Baby boomer I think that since I have worked in IT for all these years I use the technology more than my counter parts.

  6. This is excellent advice for members of each generation that are looking for jobs. But I guess I was expecting to read something about the experience that some younger workers are having about not being able to find jobs that are being taken by older people who would previously never have considered those jobs. Conversely, there are older people who are experiencing difficulty finding or keeping jobs because companies are trying to get rid of the more expensive workers who probably have higher salaries and maybe even more medical problems or something else.

    What kinds of trends are you seeing in those areas?

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