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What Boomers Can Learn From Zoomers About Job Search

fist pump between boomer and gen z

Overview

What Boomers Can Learn From Zoomers About Job Search

Let’s talk about what boomers can learn from zoomers about job search. Don’t feel like reading? Listen here!

Each generation entering the workplace reshapes the dynamics of the job search process. Millennials and Generation Z are most notable because of social media and access to thousands. Trends and new job search strategies don’t need a publicist or a journalist to spread them.

Generation Z comes into the workforce understanding social media. They know that a company’s narrative isn’t only on a job board. One person can tell hundreds of others on their social network the good or bad news about a company. Their social timelines show what older generations have left them. Lives filled with economic chaos from COVID and the overreach of work in our lives.  

Generation Z Learned What Not To Do

Since March 2020, baby boomers’ retirement rates have surged as many have lost their jobs. Layoffs during the Great Recession in 2009 forced many to look for jobs. Workers landed in careers more typical of younger people. The anecdotal evidence suggests that older workers, already dissatisfied with their jobs, did not wish to compensate for those joining the Great Resignation over the last two years. They retired instead.

The responsibilities of positions not filled by Gen Z workers fell to others, including baby boomers still on the job. As one Boomer recently said, “The expectations were unrealistic, and scheduling went from flexible to rigid. I no longer have the energy to fill the work gap.” Generation Z’s impact on today’s workplace is like none other before them. They learned from the baby boomers what not to do. 

boomer and zoomer walking together

That is what 23-year-old Jessi, a registered nurse, told me recently. “I don’t want to be enslaved to a nine-to-five. I don’t want to save money and own a house. Most of my peers want wealth (not necessarily to be rich) much faster and to control their time.”

She also said, “My generation wants to work efficiently and effectively. We don’t want to work hard for the sake of working hard like past generations.” Gen Z doesn’t want the sun to go down in their sixties. They are looking far beyond that to live life to the fullest.

Are Gen Z’s Career Expectations Realistic?

Generations in the past built America on hard work, long hours, and sacrifice. Disrupting traditional themes of hard work, Gen Z sees it differently. 

Here are some expectations they have of their careers different from other generations:

  • Gen Z prefers life and career choices they can control. They like the choice between working remotely and in-person collaborations. Past generations only had in-office options for work.
  • Gen Z values mentorship. They prefer bosses and companies that offer mentoring, feedback, and growth opportunities. Some Gen Z professionals have opted for a mentorship over a raise. Generations before them saw mentorship as an option than a necessary career asset.
  • Gen Z considers virtual relationships as vital as real-life ones, despite never meeting in person. Past generations often need in-person interaction to feel the relationship is authentic.
  • They value failure as an opportunity to learn more rather than a liability. Generations of the past saw failure as an obstacle or the end.
  • Gen Z prioritizes values and purposes. Other generations waited until later in their careers to pursue purposeful work.
  • They protect and nourish their mental health. Other generations were expected to “tough it out” unless diagnosed.

The number of companies encouraging their employees to take time off for mental health is increasing. Gen Z is open about their struggles and pushes back against the stigma attached to mental health.

The Case Against Antiquated Perspectives of Work

Jessi’s comment explains what the Great Resignation means to Gen Z and the American workforce. They want options and will try different opportunities to find them. When the job doesn’t meet their expectations, they move on. The antiquated thinking of the past isn’t relative to the current work culture. 

zoomers

Today, flexibility and remote work are a priority. However, baby boomers and Gen Xers stay in positions out of loyalty as previous generations did.

Pre-pandemic, only 6%-25% of workers worked remotely. During the pandemic, up to 57% of white-collar professionals worked from home. 

More than any other generation, Gen Z wants options. Job-hopping is a way to get them while figuring out what they want. One positive by-product of job-hopping is salary growth. Statistics show both millennials and Gen Z job-hopping since the beginning of the pandemic.

The advice from Gen X and baby boomers to stay at least five years with a company to get “vested” is contrary to the habits of Gen Z. Previously, if you job-hopped, employers didn’t consider you stable. Yet, the expectation that a company will care for you is no longer a universal truth. 

The argument for job-hopping is clear about salary growth. Now, each job change may yield at least a 10% increase — two and a half times or more than getting a raise. The average raise for white-collar jobs is less than 4% a year.

What Should Older Workers Learn From Gen Z About Job Searching?

Not that long ago, everyone watched what millennials were doing to navigate their careers. Now, eyes are on the zoomers. 

The layoffs of older workers because of the pandemic compelled many to retire. However, many of them are not living their best lives and are still looking for jobs after retirement. 

boomer professional

Retirees reentering the workforce don’t get hired at similar positions they retire from. Nor do they recover their pre-retirement salaries. 

Here are a few strategies Gen Z use. Older workers looking to reenter the workforce would be wise to adopt some of them:

  • Gen Z has no problem leaving jobs that don’t serve the big picture of their career goals. For older workers, finding satisfaction is a job within itself. But in the long run, finding a job with purpose and shared values softens the blow of having to work at all. If your job isn’t serving you and your goals, leaving would be the best.
  • You may like your job for the peace of mind it provides and the great people you meet. But it might not help you reach your financial goals. Gen Z professionals will explore the options first and research before saying “yes.” Older workers must become less sentimental about their job and learn when to move on.
  • Use LinkedIn to connect, foster new relationships, and revitalize old ones. Older workers have taught young people about networking. But now, younger professionals treat online relationships as genuine connections. Older workers should imitate that spirit and create a seamless experience for their contacts. 
  • As older workers learn new tech skills, they may enjoy volunteering at small companies. Showing enthusiasm and eagerness to learn from younger workers is refreshing for leaders. Your background and experience serve as an asset, coupled with your learning spirit.

So, What Boomers Can Learn From Zoomers About Job Search

There has been a slight positive shift in baby boomers’ use of technology in the last few years. They see the need to master certain technologies since many desire a remote working job. Unfortunately, many employers cite the technological divide as a challenge. 

AARP recently compiled a list of companies willing to hire older workers.

professionals at work

Don’t undervalue yourself. That only helps others, including employers, see your career opportunities dwindling. Find work you value. Don’t settle or grow sentimental about places that treat you well but do not help you achieve your goals. It might be called job-hopping. But it also means owning your career like a Gen Z professional.

Mark Anthony Dyson
Mark Anthony Dyson
Mark Anthony Dyson is a career writer, thinker, podcaster, and speaker in the careers and job search space. He has written for Glassdoor, Recruiter.com, Payscale, The Financial Diet, The Balance Careers, and more.

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