Ahhh Gen Z. While you exhibit a digital deftness akin to your Millennial predecessors, your work ethic, sense of social justice, activism and fiscal conservatism are reminiscent of Baby Boomers, your grandparents’ generation.
According to Pew Research Center, Gen Z’s were born after 1996. A Goldman Sachs research report notes: “At nearly 70 million in size and growing . . .this cohort will soon outnumber their Millennial predecessors. Raised by Gen-X parents during a time marred by economic stress, rising student debt burdens, socio-economic tensions and war overseas, these youths carry a less idealistic, more pragmatic perspective on the world. . . and they will be America’s most diverse to-date (first to be majority non-white).”
A poll conducted by the Lincoln Financial Group describes Gen Z’s as optimistic and future-focused. Polled Gen Z’s define their top priorities as obtaining degrees, securing employment and saving money. Gen Z’s indicate that they seek sound benefits, competitive pay and meaningful employment.
Baby Boomers, born between 1946-64, earned their generational moniker because of the birthrate spike following WWII. The largest generation, Baby Boomer’s numbers peaked at about 78 million in 1999. While they took a strong hand in shaping modern workplace mores, Baby Boomers are now leaving it; an estimated 10,000 Boomers retire daily.
Boomers forged their place in crowded classrooms and fought stiff competition to earn their role in the boardroom. Fitting role models for their Gen Z counterparts, Sally Kane describes them: “Baby Boomers are confident, independent and self-reliant. This generation grew up in an era of reform and believe they can change the world. They questioned established authority systems and challenged the status quo.”
So what can Generation Z’s learn from Baby Boomers about nailing that big interview and cultivating professional success?
Find your niche
Susan Peppercorn, career transition coach and CEO of Positive Workplace Partners, a career consultancy explains: “Since Gen Z’s have little experience in the workforce, Boomers can help them identify their skills, strengths, and interests as well as potential roles that may be a good fit, so that they can position themselves effectively with recruiters. Recruiters help place individuals in jobs when the candidate knows what they want and how they can contribute. Most won’t be helpful to someone looking for career advice because they are looking for people that have figured that out. Since Boomers have so much experience, they are well-suited to coaching someone starting their career on how to get the attention of recruiters and work with them.”
Be a team player
While individual accomplishments are important, knowing that someone can function well on a team is huge. So, emphasize how your efforts advanced the agenda of your drill team, soccer team, chess club or band. Collaboration is key to professional success.
Nobody owes you a job, so don’t act like it
It’s impressive to show that you can do great work and give the employer more than they request. That’s how you cultivate professional skills, workplace examples to cite in interviews and glowing professional references. Put your best effort into every job opportunity you get. It matters.
Competition is valuable
Because of the size of their generation, Boomers had to compete for everything, and so do you, Gen Z’s. Use every opportunity to develop your skills and talents. Then emphasize instances in which you stood out.
Use technology in concert with, not in lieu of, other modes of communication
Technological fluency is a valuable skill. But it doesn’t replace other modes of communication. Face-to-face interactions and phone etiquette are also important. Practice them. Get comfortable talking with people who are outside of your peer group. Try making phone calls in place of texting or emailing so that you become more comfortable with these modes of communication.
Share your goals
It’s understandable that younger professionals may not have the experience of their more seasoned counterparts. But you have goals. If you want to get an advanced degree, discussing that ambition will impress an interviewer. If you hope to assume a leadership role, that also bodes well. Share your dreams, and tie those to actions you’re currently taking.
Diversity is the norm
Baby Boomers challenged the world around them. They bucked convention to create a new place for themselves. Those efforts yielded real change. Being shaped by a diverse generation instills a valuable sensitivity. Tend that awareness. It will make you a more astute professional and a more deeply connected human being.
Baby Boomers are a generation to whom nothing was handed. That sounds like you, Gen Z’s. Find opportunities and resources where you can, and run with them. You carry on a great legacy.