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Are We Too Obsessed with Generations?

It seems one of the hottest topics among recruiting publications centres around generations, everything from attracting and hiring millennials to managing baby boomers to managing multiple generations at once. While diversity is undoubtedly a critical success factor for any organization and understanding differences will surely help companies advance, is it possible we’re getting too hung up on age?

A little over a year ago, ERE published an article by Tanya Sinclair of the Indeed Hiring Lab.  In it, she explains that when it comes to job seeker preferences, there really aren’t that many differences across the generations. For example, in all generations, the majority of people are going about their job search in the same way. Everybody, even many baby-boomers, have adopted mobile and are using their devices in their job search. Indeed’s studies also revealed that there is a cross-generational demand for flexible work.

While these are only a few similarities, they raise a valuable suggestion — rather than strategically targeting a generation, why not focus on commonalities? First, you already know that regardless of the generation, your new hire will need to meet all requirements. This should not be compromised for the sake of bringing more youth or seniority or finding somebody who will get along with others. Next, understand the similarities and work with them. As already noted, every generation is leaning toward flexible work and mobile trends, so it would be beneficial to use those to create an inclusive recruiting process. Conversely, understand that every applicant is an individual who may not fit with generational bias. There are many Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers who are more tech savvy than their Millennial counterparts, and you’ll also find some new members to the workforce who share the same old school values of work as your senior employees. Finally, when it comes to fostering the right culture, avoid over-complicating the situation with “hip perks the kids will love”. Instead, create a culture where everyone can play well together based on their commonalities.

Do you consider generational differences too much? Should you be thinking about them more?