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Ys, Xers and Boomers:  Getting the messages straight among colleagues, job candidates

Pepsi generation, move over.  The millennials have invaded your workplace.  More than half of my company is Generation Y – 32 years old and younger.  That means most supervisors – our 33-to-41-year-old Gen Xers, or Baby Boomers, aged 42 to 61 – are working with people who hold different views regarding workplace values and approach to work.   As a manager for talent recruitment and retention, I gather information and statistics about the people who work in our communications firm and what is required to help them grow and succeed as professionals.  I also keep my eye on workplace trends so that the firm can continue to attract the best people.
It may not be news to most people but it is reality: Ys, Xers and Boomers share the same office space but see their working life through different lenses.  Employers who fail to recognize and accommodate the generational divides could see good talent leave the Firm, or never arrive in the first place, due to a lack of understanding.
When recruiting, I need to consider the mindset of each generation to ensure candidates are not screened out of a job based on my Boomer bias.  Job seekers from Generation Y love technology. They are less keen on telephone interaction, are big on text messaging, and don’t mind sending me an unformatted and imperfect resume from their Blackberry, touting the “numerous strengths” they’ve acquired in the few short years they’ve been in the workplace.  After the interview, Ys want to know they are appreciated and seek reassuring input on how to perform even better in future interviews, or get leads on other jobs.
Boomers are the opposite.  They spend hours perfecting their resumes, follow up with a curt phone call and email only if I emailed them first.  Generation X is somewhere in between, not hesitant about technology but wanting to know right away where they stand in relation to other job candidates.
I forgive Gen Ys their occasional extreme confidence.  I have also learned, their loyalty is to society and themselves, and not necessarily the corporate world.  Boomers, on the other hand, live to work and are not afraid to state it.  Gen Xers are concerned about building a good life for their family.  There are pros and cons associated with each generation when it comes to being successful in the workplace.  With understanding, you can bridge the gaps among the three generations of workers.

Recruiting, however, is a two-way street.  Smart job candidates take the time to consider in advance how they will be perceived by a potential employer, and what makes that employer tick.  They research the organization, its values, and sometimes even the person they are dealing with. This type of preparation is appreciated!  It always makes me smile when a candidate says they Googled my name and learned something relevant about my background.

As a recruiter for a communications firm, I need to get my generational messages straight among job candidates and colleagues. I try and spend some time each day with Gen Ys and Xers in my company, to get a feel for what they are thinking and what is important to them in the workplace.  It may be as simple as a short walk around the office to see how people are doing. I find I learn something new each day from these casual conversations.   My firm, after all, is in the business of helping clients effectively communicate to their key publics.  The least I can do is offer the same courtesy to the people I work with and recruit, as well.

Sandra Upeslacis is the Manager of Talent Retention and Acquisition at NATIONAL Public Relations, Canada’s largest public relations firm with more than 325 employees in nine offices across Canada, in London and New York. www.national.ca . Email, [email protected]
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William Smith

Hi Sandra, n nInteresting article as I am a member of Gen X, finished my PR certificate and looking for work it's enlightening to see how different generations approach the recruiting process. n nI think you are bang on with the different generations' collective outlook. I worked on a project where I had two PR interns answer to me and they were millenials and they were a pleasure to work with. I adjusted my communication style leveraging technology, no challenges. n nCheers n nBill

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