Recruiting Strategy: Understanding Generational Differences
Many human resources departments are focusing on recruiting a strong talent base as they seek to rebuild into more profitable and efficient organizations. In this current wave of high unemployment, there are four generations simultaneously looking for positions in the job market.
When developing a recruitment strategy, employers must have a profound understanding of what each of these generations has to offer, as well as their motivations, values and expectations. This will require a more sophisticated approach that must be highly effective in matching qualified applicants to positions and keeping turnover rates low. Research has shown that each generation brings specific expectations, values, behaviors and attitudes into the workplace (Underwood, 2007). So naturally, each would also bring its own brand of work ideals and demands to the recruiting process. These generational differences can affect a company’s recruiting strategy as they seek to attract talented candidates and retain valuable employees.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the generational differences that a recruiter may encounter:
The Veteran or Traditional employees (born in 1945 or earlier) look for top-down chain-of-command organizations. Members of this generation are averse to risk, respect authority, are often reluctant to change and prefer formality. Even though they may not have the technological skill set of the younger generations, this generation seeks out computer training in the workplace.
Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) value company loyalty, strong work ethics and financial stability. This generation prefers organizations that have a stable and positive future with strong community ties and outreach programs. A key concern for Baby Boomers is whether potential employers will provide career advancement opportunities and value their workplace contribution.
Members of Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) are often looking for stable organizations that provide work-life balance programs for flexibility in work schedules. They value work-life benefits such as child care and elder care, as well as financial benefits like stock and incentive plans. This generation is looking to enjoy life while still working instead of waiting until retirement age.
Generation Y (sometimes referred to as Nexters or Millennials, born between 1981 and 2000) is usually considered the technology-driven generation. They seek out positions that are creative and purposeful, using cutting-edge technology that supports their information-sharing background. Members of this generation value being appreciated for their contributions to an organization, having the opportunity to continue their education, being given a flexible work schedule and getting assistance in achieving advancement in their career path.
By knowing these differences and understanding how each generation responds to the recruiting process, a recruiter can begin to determine whether a potential candidate will accept or decline a job offer. Of course in any recruiting process, candidates should not be classified by assumptions based on age alone. But by understanding generational workplace expectations and core behaviors, recruiters can be proactive in creating a successful recruitment strategy.
Underwood, C. (2007). The generational imperative: Understanding generational differences in the workplace, marketplace, and living room. Miamisburg, OH: The Generational Imperative, Inc.