Generations competing on the job market. How to understand age groups of Baby Boomers, X, Y and Z?

For ages, we’ve seen the differences in perception of the world coming from young people, their parents and grandparents. It has always been a topic of conflicts between our own but also other people opinions and experiences.

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The ideology war between generations as well as the lack of understanding of their views are well known from the past which proved many novels and literature creations. Let’s go back even to the history of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and “King Lear” or Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment”. All contained intellectual scuffles between young and older generations.

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We don’t need to look far to see the same skirmishes on the job market. It is hard to keep up with changes and times which now evolve much faster than in the literature mentioned earlier. It is not surprising that the phrase „when I was at your age” is not only being used by our parents or grandparents, but it is now being increasingly used by younger people. Facing such a situation, HR departments, employers, as well as candidates must show outstanding flexibility, which is simply becoming a necessity.

The below is a general categorization, behaviors may vary from one individual to another.

Baby Boomers, those born between 1945-1964, have strong personalities who believe in authorities and promotion from „zero” to „hero”. For them, social status is obtained by position and work successes. This is a stable generation on the job market as they worked more often in public sector. Many would have worked in the same position until retirement. They believe in process not results and expect stability and are loyal to the company. In the end “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. 🙂

Generation X, those born between 1965-1979, work more often in the production industry but also in the service industry which was growing at that time. X’s are candidates with mostly technical skills, however they started developing soft skills as the market required at that moment. They are familiar with technology (smartphones, emails, IT), but still prefer the old fashioned way such as paper documents and F2F meetings. They believe in results not process – opposite to the baby boomers. They also enjoy a work life balance. They don’t run in „rat race”. They are experts in one area and expect stability.

Generation Y, also known as Millennials (as appeared on the job market after 2000) or IKEA generation are born between 1980-1989. They are very good in multitasking and are strong employees. They expect full time permanent contracts, however they are also flexible with contract types. Passion is an important value for them. They expect a work & life balance, friendly atmosphere, training, development and benefits. Also partnership treatment as a key. They expect goals and clear instructions. Y’s may have difficulties with communication with older colleagues. These are the most (so far) demanding generation from a recruitment process. They are the most likely group to withdraw when a company is not showing engagement. They are searching themselves for opinions and are not interested with a random offer or employer.

Generation Z, called also „C” (connect, communicate, and change) are born after 1990 (or after 1995 depends on source). As they are a fresh generation on the market, most of the opinions are still forecasts. However what we can observe so far is the Z’s are living in an online world, proficient users of the Internet and social media.  They are not used to repetitive and monotonous work. They believe they can change the world. They do not expect stability as they’re looking for their own business. They have many plans for the future and have no location restrictions.  They want to explore the world, they expect remote working, equality, partnership, and it can be hard to reach a compromise with them. They expect clear information about salary, conditions from the beginning. They want to think autonomously without learning unnecessary things. Work & life balance they understand more broadly also as free time during working hours if necessary.

It sounds like a big challenge to have all of these amazing age groups in same job market. We are all human and we should remember to respect this.

 

Big thank you to my amazing peer Scott for his support and proofreading! 🙂

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