The Generation X Workforce: What do recruiters need to know?

Who are Generation X?

They’re already in your office, working tirelessly and driving your business forward. The Generation X workforce, born between 1965 and 1984, has witnessed the workplace being transformed by technology. Compared to Millennials and Generation Z, Generation X will have worked in a ‘tech-free’ workplace for most of their early career and are far more accustomed to manual processes as opposed to relying on emerging technology such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

On the one hand, most of Generation X are not digital natives like Millennials and Generation Z, but on the other they do command a depth of experience, expertise and career wisdom. Rather than efficient digital multi-taskers, they make exceptional managers, mentors and career development professionals – essential roles in any business looking to succeed.

The value of Generation X candidates lies in their understanding and appreciation of the need to evolve, having witnessed first-hand the technological transformation of the workplace.

In this blog, we will explore how recruiters can engage with the Generation X workforce, as well as understand what they are looking for in their next job role.

Career development is a major focus

Many Generation X candidates are driven by a desire to redistribute their expertise and experience to the younger generations. Just like Millennials and Generation Z, the Generation X workforce strive to improve themselves, their colleagues and the businesses they work for, and therefore are perfectly suited to managerial positions. Recruiters would be wise to provide Generation X with opportunities which have a mentor program or managerial capacity, where they would be expected to transfer the knowledge, skills and techniques they have acquired over the years to help their colleagues develop.

Flexible working environments are key

Just like Millennials, Generation X now expect to have a flexible working environment – but rather than expecting workplace flexibility to help manage their social lives, Generation X candidates need flexibility to ensure a good work/life balance. Many Generation X candidates have children or other family responsibilities to consider. Therefore, remote/mobile working opportunities are an excellent way to attract Generation X candidates; as they enable them to manage their affairs and continue to work and contribute to the long-term success of a business.

Traditional engagement will be the most effective

Recruiters need to appreciate and recognize the differing attitudes of Generation X candidates towards communication channels and choose the most appropriate method to engage with them.

Unlike Millennials and Generation Z, Generation X will prefer more traditional communication methods such as the telephone or face-to-face meetings – these will be more effective with Generation X as opposed to instant messaging or social media. Why? Simply put, these methods are what they experienced earlier in their careers, when starting out and conducting job searches and interviews during their youth. Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are unlikely to be as effective when engaging with Generation X.

Telephone will be the most efficient and productive method for recruiters, with email a good secondary option. Face-to-face meetings are almost a certainty, whether in person or using video technology – Generation X candidates will communicate better and be more at ease during these more personal interactions.

Industry specific job boards are a great way to reach Generation X, as they would much rather take their time to find specific positions rather than rush into their next greatest challenge. Generation X candidates often have other stakeholders in their personal lives to consider before making a career change, so they will not be rushed into making decisions and will only move if the whole package is right for them.

From communication preferences to workplace flexibility and personal responsibilities, recruiters need to consider the bigger picture when targeting Generation X candidates.