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Training Days: Jobseekers: Millennials vs Baby Boomers

4 minute read

- With Gayle Hillman

Everyone knows the stereotype for each generation.

Millennials (those born from around 1981-1996) are “lazy”, “entitled” and “impatient”.

Baby Boomers (those born between 1946-1964) are “technologically illiterate”, “old” and “set in their ways”.

But I have a unique perspective. I’m lucky enough to be a trainer for the Youth Jobs PaTH program (for jobseekers up to 25 years old) as well as the Australian Government’s new Career Transition Program, targeted at jobseekers over 50.

And I can tell you – each generation has its challenges.

From my experience as a trainer of 15 years, it’s easy for jobseekers to overcome their stereotypes and present themselves as adaptable within an ever-changing work landscape.

Stereotype: Millennials are lazy and believe they’re entitled to everything

Truth: Many millennial jobseekers are tech-savvy and are able to market their skills to employers. Within the Youth Jobs PaTH program, I regularly see millennials working collaboratively to build team morale, utilising technology to update their resume, and market themselves by building a personal "brand". It’s because of these skills that I tailor our Youth Jobs PaTH program to their taste – lots of YouTube videos, group engagement, and of course making sure the wifi is connected! While I do note that around 90% of the millennial jobseekers I train with don't have a driver's licence, they're resourceful and willing enough to get themselves to interviews and jobs via public transport or other methods like Uber or carpooling. I try and encourage confidence over entitlement to all of my millennial jobseekers.

Stereotype: Baby Boomers are technologically illiterate and don’t like change

Truth: While it’s undeniable that many Baby Boomers entered the workforce prior to the digital age, they have a good awareness of the importance of digital literacy. They understand that what was considered “IT” 20 years ago is no longer relevant. They’re also keen to learn and prove themselves – participating in programs such as our Career Transition Program can help them develop ICT (Information and Communication Technology) skills that are current and relevant, and more often than not, tailored to their job aspirations. Additionally, many of my Baby Boomer jobseekers have the advantage of presenting themselves in an exceptionally professional manner – minus the sense of entitlement that some millennials present, as mentioned above. Our Career Assistance program aims to provide practical assistance for those who need to develop their ICT skills and to build their confidence using smartphones, apps, social media and more.

Stereotype: Millennials are impatient and easily distracted

Truth: Many millennials were taught in digital classrooms at secondary school. So while some employers see millennial jobseekers as playing on their phones, they're often utilising education-based apps, connecting and networking online, and scrolling through job ads. They’re often very quick to get work done, and when this is the case, I try and encourage them to put their hand up for more work rather than slack off. This kind of proactive-ness is wonderful to display to employers, who are always looking for staff who go above and beyond.

Stereotype: Baby Boomers are set in their ways and bring little to the workplace

Truth: Sure, some Baby Boomers can come across as “old-school”. But again, it’s not all bad. They may prefer to communicate face-to-face or via phone, which is often more clear and concise than email or messenger. Another positive is that they can display a very strong work ethic. Additionally, they bring a wealth of knowledge and life skills to workplaces, simply by having a few more years of employment under their belt. While they may be less likely to take risks than their millennial counterparts, they are reliable and steadfast in their approach to work.

Conclusion: Life is a fluid, ever-changing state, and employment reflects that.

We’re no longer seeing people stay in the same job for 30 years and then retire – many people nowadays enjoy three to four different types of careers in their lifetime.

My job is to help create a mindset of growth in my jobseekers – they’ll soon learn that getting involved in a variety of “roles” in their life all contributes to their success in employment.

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