How to engage a different generation of job seeker

by Andrew Childerley

Understanding the Needs of Job Seekers Across the Generations

How to engage a different generation of job seeker

In the modern workplace, the needs of job seekers have changed. As generations evolve, so does the way job seekers go about their hunt for the perfect role. For employers, understanding these different needs and how to meet them is essential in finding the right candidate for their business. So, what is the best way to attract talent from each generation?

When referring to “job seekers across generations”, we are referring to generations X, Y, and Z. Generation X (those born between 1966-1980), Generation Y (or Millennials as they’re often known, born between 1981 and 1996) and Generation Z (born 1996-2010). Let’s look at each generation and how their job hunting preferences are different.

Generation X, are often considered the bridge between the traditionalist baby boomers and the digital natives of generations Y and Z (the digital generations). They’re the type that are "tech-fluent" but thankfully not smartphone-addicted. Gen X are more likely to continue with traditional job hunting actions, such as searching job boards and newspapers, but also make use of the latest technology. They take membership of both, being old enough to have had analogue life experiences but young enough to be tech fluent. Often referred to as the “forgotten generation’.

When it comes to job-seeking, this generation is fairly traditional, preferring to search job boards, industry publications and newspapers, while also making use of technological advancement. They’re technologically savvy but not technology-dependent. They are loyal to employers but take a more laidback approach to connecting with them. To attract and retain Generation X job seekers, employers should focus on reliability, security, and growth opportunities. Dynamic job boards with consistent job postings and personalised performance evaluations will help to engage with this generation. Employers must also look to leverage their experience by creating mentorship programmes and opportunities to develop skills.

Generation Y are also often referred to as Millennials. They are the first true digital natives, having grown up in the digital age. Smartphones, laptops, and other forms of technology are an integral part of their lives which they use as an essential part of their job hunt; searching via social media is second nature to them. They seek feedback, crave recognition, and aim to personalise their job hunt to their own needs.

To attract and retain Generation Y job seekers, employers should look to leverage their up-to-date knowledge by taking advantage of social media, personalised advice, and ongoing engagement. This includes a focus on clear career paths, transparent salary expectations and job satisfaction. Company engagement both digitally and socially will help with recognition. They will want to be involved and their successes celebrated.

Generation Z are true digital natives. Technology is key to their job search so look to leverage their tech-focussed nature. They have shorter attention spans than other generations, so short digital communication is the way to get their attention. Go for short job adverts with bullet points and highlights using videos, GIFs and other alternative methods of communication - such as instant messaging services and chat windows. They won't want to engage in lengthy job adverts or wordy emails and will frequently choose instant messaging or video chat above making a phone call and emails to find out more. 

Even though they are just entering the job market, they already behave differently. They have grown up in an entrepreneurial environment and often expect to be their own boss. They’re used to getting quick results and instant feedback via social media channels. They value speed of response and transparency when it comes to their future career path. 

They've grown up surrounded by all things digital and communicating "online" is second nature - which only accelerated during the pandemic. So there must also be an understanding that social media is an effective way of providing feedback and open communication. Asking for a comprehensive CV or having to complete a lengthy application forms will not appeal. A quick process incorporating technology is key. Video applications, voice messaging, quick apply features or the ability to apply with their online profile (such as LinkedIN) work well.


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