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Should recruitment be tailored to candidate age?

Danny Brooks, managing director at VHR

Millennials, Baby Boomers and Generation X all report to behave differently and value different elements in their careers –– so should we tailor recruitment to candidate generational demographics?

Recruiting millennials

Millennials as employees: Born between 1982 and 2000, millennials grew up in the rapid maturation of the internet, smart phones and social media, with this exposure creating the most tech-savvy generation of workers. Workers born in this bracket are 50 per cent more likely to change jobs than other generations, and millennials will have up to 16 different jobs in their lifetime.

What millennials want: Millennials don’t just value the latest trends in technology or relaxed company culture: Millennial job seekers list an authentic company brand and company values that match their own as the biggest employer attractions. Rising university fees mean younger millennials are beginning to look at careers that will give them more direct routes into work, with better and faster career progression and without debt, such as getting into the engineering industry through apprenticeships. Prone to job switching, millennials are also more attracted to careers in tech, healthcare and finance, indicating an interest in change and innovation, an enthusiasm for new and diverse experiences and a desire to help others as well as advancing their own careers.

Recruiting Generation X

Generation X as employees: Born between 1965 and 1984, Generation X make up the largest section of the workforce. A recent study by EY found that members of Generation X are the most adaptable to new situations and challenges, and are good at solving problems, collaborating and managing.

What Generation X want: Generation X employees rate workplace flexibility as the most important benefit that their employer can offer. With many managing conflicting demands of raising young children and caring for elderly relatives, Generation X most values work-life balance in addition to professional development opportunities. Transparent career paths and mentoring programmes will offer the clear career progression that can attract and retain Generation X.

Recruiting Baby boomers

Baby boomers as employees: Born between 1946 and 1964, Baby Boomers are rated by their colleagues as having the best work ethic and being the most productive employees. Baby boomers are well-represented at executive level and act as effective mentors, despite being considered the least adaptable or tech-savvy generation.

What Baby Boomers want: Baby boomers value loyalty, financial security and stability. Statistically more loyal to their employers, baby boomers rarely change jobs and when job-seeking, they choose to work for a well-established company with a long track record of financial stability and success. Employees of this generation also identified perks such as health care and pension schemes as the most important workplace benefits.

Skills shortage: The generation gap

The next decade will see the retirement of the Baby Boomer demographic, with a reduction in birth rate in the past 20 years meaning that there will not be enough millennials and Generation Z employees to fill the gaps. With engineers and technical workers retiring at the ages of 50-55, this skills shortage will hit UK industry the hardest. In Q4 2017, 22 per cent of UK engineering businesses listed skills shortages as their most important business challenge in the coming years, and 42 per cent of aerospace & aviation business leaders are also concerned about a skills shortage.

The solution to the skills shortage lies in redefining the way that we attract and recruit talent. Whilst specific benefits and elements of company culture are favoured by different generations, the best recruiters value the skillset and experience of each candidate as an individual and treat them as such. 

Businesses must review how they market their industries as a rewarding career choice across demographics to ensure they reach the best candidates, regardless of background. Recruiters and hiring managers must put candidate needs at the front of mind when attracting candidates, both in terms of wider demographics to help all talent pools visualise their place in the organisation, and for individual candidates, to practice excellent candidate care by meeting unique requirements and expectations.

Although millennials are more likely to change jobs and baby boomers are securing more executive level roles, opportunities for development are the top career attractions for all three generations. A holistic approach to recruiting will not only consider candidate attraction by demographics, but look across the entire company to implement programmes and benefits that will appeal to all potential employees at every phase of their career.

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