Hiring Differences Between the Three Generations

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Generations at work By now we are all familiar with the three distinct generations of Americans still in the workforce: baby boomers, Gen. Xers, and millennials. While much is made of the differences between these generations, it turns out they also have a lot in common, when it comes to job-seeking practices.

The Indeed Hiring Lab, a global research institute that focuses on advancing the knowledge of human resource and talent management professionals worldwide, has published a white paper called, “Three Generations of Talent: Who’s Searching for Jobs Today.” (It’s available for download as a PDF.)

“Looking at how these generations search for jobs, we’ve uncovered some unique characteristics, but also surprising similarities in their approach. Most notably, we found that job seekers at every age respond to labor market conditions, searching more in occupations and locations where there are many jobs. And with unemployment down and confidence high for the first time in many years, employers are finding it more important than ever to attract and retain the right talent and are adapting rapidly to these changing conditions,” said Tara Sinclair, chief economist at Indeed.

The top findings from the report, according to Indeed, are:

  • While the workforce is currently divided almost evenly between the three generations, by 2020, millennials are projected to make up almost half of the workforce. The talent gaps left by retiring baby boomers open up numerous opportunities for millennials in key industries, such as health care.
  • Mobile is one point of intersection for job seekers from all three generations. Not surprisingly, younger generations overwhelmingly prefer mobile job search — 73.4 percent of millennials click on jobs from a mobile device, and 71.3 percent of Gen Xers do the same. At 48.4 percent, baby boomers are not far behind.

(Indeed defines baby boomers as ages 51-70; Gen Xers as ages 31-50; and millennials as ages 21-30.)

Indeed also looks ahead six years to the state of the job market in 2020. By then, a good portion of baby boomers are expected to be out of the full-time workforce.

The Indeed findings show that “in contrast to the prevailing labor market conditions of recent years, tomorrow’s talent demands will require innovative solutions if they are to succeed in hiring top talent. As labor market trends drive relative interest, certain in-demand occupations will change dramatically in line with employer demands for certain skills and talent as the workforce shifts. According to [Bureau of Labor Statistics] data, a number of industries are projected to grow significantly by 2022, including:

  1. Healthcare Support – 28 percent increase
  2. Healthcare Practitioners & Technical – 21.5 percent increase
  3. Construction & Extraction – 21.4 percent increase
  4. Computer & Mathematical – 18 percent increase
  5. Office & Administrative Support – 6.8 percent increase.”

Indeed quotes Mark McKeen, senior manager of talent acquisition at General Motors: “Our baby boomer employees have family members and children who are millennials, and they have respect for the technological knowledge that they have, along with their ability to challenge convention. We’re in an industry that’s changing drastically, and everyone recognizes that we need innovative thinkers at every level of the business.”

In a press release, Indeed adds, “In addition to the research which reveals the behaviors and preferences of job seekers of all ages, the Indeed Hiring Lab conducted client interviews for employer perspectives on hiring across the three generations.”

Jocelyn Lincoln, vice president of Americas recruiting for Kelly Services told Indeed, “The biggest discussions we’re having are around flexible and remote work, and this is a change that affects all generations. This has a lot to do with the portability of much of today’s work.”

According to Aaron Kraljev, vice president of employer marketing at Wells Fargo, “While we’ve found that younger segments are more adept at technological advances in the application process, we also know that for most of our workforce, people are basically on the same page in how they approach their job search. It’s part of how anyone looks for a job now.”

By Keith Griffin