Candidates of each generation have different approaches to job hunting, work-life balance, and work productivity -- among other aspects of work. Most differences are subtle and sometimes just a matter of communication style, individual interpretation, and life stages.
However, other differences are based on life goals and priorities, often more than subtle across the generations. Whether generational differences are subtle or not, employers need to know their audience when recruiting -- for both message and medium of delivery.
When recruiting across the generations, pull out the critical elements of the company and the job that will resonate the most with the candidate you want to attract. For instance, you may wish to stress job security to Baby Boomers, while Gen Z prefers flexibility. Additionally, Facebook or LinkedIn may be ideal mediums for Baby Boomers, but TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram fit Gen Z better.
Baby Boomers, while Gen Z are just the working “bookend” generations. In between, we have the smaller Gen X generation as well as Millennials -- the largest generation in the workforce at the moment. Each of these generations also have their own work approaches, often differing from the generations surrounding them.
Since companies are looking to hire talent across the board, hiring practices must include all candidates -- no matter their age. Since there’s no “one size fits all” strategy for recruiting, companies will need to find a balance between recruiting for the role’s needs, the fit for the company, and the fit for the candidate.
In this article, you’ll learn statistics around generational hiring, why it’s essential to have strategies in place for generational recruiting, why knowing your audience is crucial, the benefits of tailoring your hiring strategy, and more.
Before we jump into generational recruiting strategies, it would be helpful to look at each of the four generations -- Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z -- and where they stand in the workforce, along with some projections for the future of work.
According to Pew Research Center, as of July 1, 2019, Millennials edged out Baby Boomers in the workplace, as Millennials numbered 72.1 million to Boomers 71.6 million. The Millennial generation is expected to peak at 74.9 million in 2033, as immigrant populations add to this age group. This is quite a feat for Millennials, as Baby Boomers had the bragging rights as the “largest living generation” until 2019.
Generation X, wedged between Millennials and Boomers, numbered 65.2 million in 2019, projected to pass the Boomer population by 2028. Often referred to as the “Middle Child of the Generations” or the “Forgotten Generation,” this generation only spans 17 years, where most other generations span 20.
Bringing up the rear, Gen Z is about to take front and center in the workforce in the coming years. According to Business Insider, Gen Z represents the largest and most diverse generation of the four, with the oldest of this generation graduating from college and entering the workforce.
The global pandemic has had a significant impact on generational employment. For example, before COVID, an average of two million Boomers retired annually since 2011 (the first year that Boomers turned 65 years old). However, COVID accelerated some Boomer retirements, with 3.2 million more Baby Boomers retiring in the third quarter of 2020 than in the third quarter of 2019, according to Pew. With the massive Boomer exodus, organizations globally are losing significant amounts of intellectual capital, experience, and industrial knowledge.
As Baby Boomers retire, Millennials and Gen Z have the longest work road ahead of them as the two youngest generations. According to the Urban Institute, “nearly one in five young millennials and Gen Z adults (19.5 percent) reported they or their spouse or partner experienced layoffs since the pandemic began.” Also, because of the pandemic, these generations are concerned about employment insecurity and less-predictable earnings. As a result, they are often “the first to be cut in economic downturns,” like the one facing us these past 18 months.
Gen X, smack dab in the middle of their career, may be facing their biggest unemployment crisis, according to a 2021 study. Specifically, the study found that Gen X is facing “increased barriers [to employment] due to biases among hiring managers, as well as reluctance among workers to learn new skills.”
Adding to the above, the American Psychological Association, Gen Z adults “were the most likely generation to say that their mental health has worsened compared with before the pandemic,” reflected at 46 percent, with Gen X coming in second at 33 percent, Millennials coming in third at 31 percent, and Boomers in fourth at 28 percent. No matter how you slice these statistics, employees across all generations are affected.
There’s a lot to process here for recruiting professionals, as the impacts of COVID lie on top of already varying generational preferences. However, as we enter one of the most competitive job markets in recent history, recruiting professionals need to ensure that they recruit from all age groups inclusively.
So, where to start? We recommend starting with a similar approach to internal communication for generational recruiting: tailor your message and medium to the audience you want to reach. Read on to learn about how to recruit across the generations.
First and foremost: Know your audience!
Be aware of how generations are similar as well as different!
There is no “one size fits all.” You need to find a balance between recruiting for the role’s needs, the fit for the company, and the fit for the candidate.
You’re undoubtedly aware of diversity and inclusion measures (and the resulting benefits) across your employee population. However, are you age-diverse in your recruiting and retention?
According to a recent Indeed study, only 8 percent of companies include age when developing and executing their DEI strategies. Citing an AARP study, Indeed stated that “companies with mixed-age teams see higher productivity in both their older and younger workers and that age-diversity in a team increases the performance of the group when complex decision-making tasks need to be performed.”
If you’re not age-diverse, your company is limiting itself.
How do you ensure that you encourage an age-diverse culture? First, consider tailoring your recruitment content for multiple generations.
What is inclusive content? Salesforce defines inclusive content and marketing as “creating content that truly reflects the diverse communities that our companies serve. It means that we are elevating diverse voices and role models, decreasing cultural bias, and leading positive social change through thoughtful and respectful content.”
Creating inclusive content doesn’t require you to reinvent the wheel. However, “it does require you to think differently, recognize what you don’t know, and use words more purposefully.”
When developing inclusive content, there are a few steps to keep in mind. The first is to understand your audience. According to Microsoft’s Marketing with Purpose Playbook, being inclusive in your messaging should take into account the following three categories:
Understanding your audience allows you to garner insights from the different generational groups, “uncovering diverse human truths, culture cues, preferred language, needs, and values [pointing you] in the right direction to authentically execute Inclusive Marketing.”
Doing so not only encourages diversity and inclusion. It also promotes belonging. Coined by some as the top driver in employee engagement today, belonging brings considerable value to the workplace as it encompasses our innate desire to be social -- to belong. Yet, with organizations spending almost $8 billion annually on DEIB training, they’re “missing the mark” because they don’t address belonging.
It’s time for your diversity and inclusion strategies to evolve. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) strategies should encompass belonging -- especially post-pandemic. People no longer want to feel like a number or, even worse, lonely at work. They want to belong.
Through your DEIB strategies, you can ensure that under-represented groups are represented while ensuring fairness across all employee groups -- from Boomers to Gen Z.
Are you looking to succeed with your DEIB strategies but don't know where to start? We'd love to help. Contact Recruitics today to learn more!