Generation Y on the Job Market

12/10/2013 14:54

Today I would like to give you more insight into the work of recruiters and into the way they look at potential candidates. Maybe you have heard of them – generations on the job market. You would be surprised what kind of methodology recruiters have built around candidates’ assessment based on generational clusters. It is a delicate science and it will be certainly advantage for you to understand its logic.


It is simple – each of these generations has something which is specific for one or another. These specifics are addressed during each of recruitment phases. You may find different articles and studies on this topic with definitions of generational groups. For example this one: UN Study. For now, let me just give you a short theoretical background.


The scale starts with Traditionalist – the eldest group. These are people born in between 1900 and 1940s. These employees are currently retired or near retirement and may be looking for part time positions. Due to their life experience they have a unique perspective to offer. Baby Boomers are the strongest (meaning largest) generation on the job market. These are people born between 1940s and 1960s.  Nowadays you find them mostly in senior management roles. They are energetic doers and have clearly a competitive nature with aim to leave the mark. In contrast with current generations most of them experienced minimum career changes. It is without surprise if they stayed with one company for 20+ years.  Generation X are people born between 1960s and 1980s, so now you can usually find them in position of middle managers. They value if they can work independently and pursue work-life balance. They gain most of their contacts while networking, so this is also their most favorite way of looking for jobs.


And finally there is Generation Y. This is our group, so let’s give it more space. Sometimes you may hear of ‘millennials’ – young people born in 1980s and afterwards who have been entering the market in past few years. Some of them might be already in junior management positions. They are the most tech savvy of all generations, so this influences their job seeking strategy (mostly internet). They have can-do attitude, which is sometimes perceived as know-it-all attitude by other generations. They need stimulation at work place and seek regular feedback. If they don’t have it, this may lead to their inevitable departure from their role. Thus, they change jobs A LOT! And importantly they don’t hesitate to do so, since they don’t have such a strong sense of loyalty as their counterparts from Generation X. What is also typical for millennials is their sense of belonging. They are collaborative learners and good at team work. Relationship with peers is much more important for them, then for any other generation.


These are obviously just limited clusters. All of us are individuals with specific characteristics. But there are general patterns, that can be used and importantly these patterns are used by recruiters when they create their strategy on how to assess candidates. And unfortunately, this is also basis for prejudice about generational behaviors. Recruiters are just human beings and as such they may behave unprofessionally. You have to count with it. Here are 5 advices for you, members of Generation Y, which are based on generational characteristics. I hope it will help you to cope with recruitment strategies or to face any generational prejudice.


Be confident, but humble

Typically young applicants turn out to be too confident and asking for too much considering their experience (speaking about roles, salaries and benefits above all). Frequently this perception is not objective, being just the result of a clash of different generations. In any case, most of young people indeed do a mistake by ‘pushing it too hard’. It is ok to be confident and believe in your skills and knowledge if you can support it with clear evidence. But you should be quite able to show in front of the recruiter that you understand you still have a lot to learn. Ideally try to explain how you would be able to do so within their organization.


Show some loyalty

Generation Y has tendency to change their jobs for multiple reasons. It almost always happens when there is a lack of stimulation at their workplace. In other words you don’t find reasonable any more to work there and unless like your generation X counterparts, you don’t hesitate to leave and bother yourself with some loyalty issue. Hence, don’t be surprised that recruiters are a little bit concerned about your future plans or devotion. Therefore, be ready to show them what would motivate you to stay loyal to their organization. And if this is the case, prepare some examples of your devotion to the cause or topic you came across during your studies.


Reasonable remuneration

Try to do some market research and have clear how much you may earn for that particular role. Be reasonable and if you are an international mind be aware that roles are remunerated differently in different countries. Note that recruiters will also try to pull your salary expectations down. There is nothing easier than save some money on young people with less experience. And they are partly right, remuneration should come with level of experience. But you are also right to ask for salary corresponding to the role responsibilities and tasks and to your level of education.


Don’t underestimate your skills

As mentioned above Generation Y is mostly valued for being tech savvy and their team work attitude. Note that your competitors within Generation Y know how to sell these qualities in front of employers. This creates an automatic expectation for recruiters. If you don’t feel confident about such skills, then start working on them. For example learn how to use Prezi instead of PowerPoint and show examples of your presentations to the recruiter. Or start some voluntary activity or a club with your friends. Your team work will sooner or later lead to some results which you would be able to present to your prospective employer.


Show work attitude

You may have heard that employers always want to see some matching experience. And well they don’t value youngsters because they simply don’t have it. Ok, this is what you hear, but let’s try to read in between the lines. Recruiters are really worried about a couple of things: your poor skills (discussed above) and a non-existent working attitude. They are worried about the fact that they will need to spend too much time with you until you will be fully performing. Start with yourself and change their perception by choosing the right behavior for your job hunting process. Show them that you have work attitude by pointing at your extracurricular activities, student jobs, voluntarism, or your dedication to your thesis work. And importantly tell them how you will use this experience for the offered role.


Good luck with your first encounters with recruiters and let me know how it worked for you!





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