The Great Job Hunt: 3 Generations Do It Differently
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Sheryl Nance Nash
The Fiscal Times
September 24, 2012

How you search for a job depends a lot on your age. A new study out today, The Multi-Generational Job Search by Millennial Branding, a research and consulting firm, and Beyond.com, a career network, highlights job search commonalities and differences among Gen Y, Gen X and baby boomers.

RELATED: Gen Y vs. Boomers: Workplace Conflict Heats Up

Over 5,000 job seekers in total were surveyed, including 742 18-29 year olds (Gen Y), 1,676 30-47 year olds (Gen X), and 2,850 48-67 year olds (baby boomers). The study found a number of similarities in how the three generations approach searching for work: All spend the majority of their time looking online, most favor online job boards, and on average, all three groups spend between 5-20 hours a week looking. More than a third manage their online work histories, fewer than 15 percent have their own professional websites, and all generations use social media in some form – but Twitter is the least popular job search tool for everyone.

The similarities stop there. Here's a look at how the three groups differ:

GEN Y
Gen Y, also known as millennials, is more optimistic about finding a job, values workplace flexibility, and is more likely to plan to go back to school instead of continuing their search. They're also seeing more results: 33 percent of millennials said they were able to find employment in less than one month, compared to 29 percent of Gen X and 24 percent of boomers. Aside from requiring lower salaries, they may be bagging jobs because they’re prepping more – 68 percent said they practice interview questions before an interview, whereas only 60 percent of Gen X and just 52 percent of boomers said the same.

RELATED: The 10 Highest-Paying Companies for Millennials

When it comes to social media, not surprisingly more Gen Y’s (21 percent) choose Facebook as their first choice when job searching than Gen X (15 percent) or boomers (10 percent), and they are also more aware of their online reputations: 47 percent of Gen Y's search to find out what's being said about them, compared to 38.8 percent of Gen X and 35 percent of boomers. Gen Y is also the most likely to follow and interact with the company's social media profiles.

As for what they are looking for in a potential employer, millennials have high expectations. Location is the most important factor to them (59 percent said so), closely followed by meaningful work and job security (57 percent). A higher salary is also a bigger priority for Gen Y (41 percent) than Gen X (37 percent) or boomers (27 percent).

GEN X
Gen X has the most angst about looking for work. Seventy-two percent of this group are stressed and frustrated, more so than boomers (69 percent) and Gen Y (61 percent). What's on Gen X's wish list for that ideal job? Sixty five percent said job security, while 62 percent said employee benefits like health care and 55 percent said location.

RELATED: Gen X Disproportionally Affected by the Recession

Gen X isn't content to wait for an employer forever. Thirty-six percent said they have considered starting their own business instead of continuing their job search, compared to 35 percent of boomers and 31 percent of Gen Y.

BOOMERS
Surprisingly, boomers spent the most time on social networks of all three generations. “Baby boomers job search online the most and use social networks, especially LinkedIn when conducting a search,” says Dan Schwabel, founder of Millennial Branding.

Ninety-six percent of boomers are conducting a job search online, compared to 95 percent of Gen X and 92 percent of Gen Y. More boomers choose job boards as their primary resource in the job hunt (87 percent), compared to 82 percent of Gen X and 77 percent of Gen Y.

RELATED: The 50-Year-Old Intern: Boomers Go Back to the Bottom

Boomers, though, are having the toughest time getting a job. Twenty-five percent have been job searching for over a year (compared to 17 percent of Gen X and 10 percent of Gen Y). Boomers feel like they're being singled out because of their age – 65 percent said they suffer from age discrimination, compared to only 22 percent of Gen X and 21 percent of Gen Y. 

It's not as if boomers aren't giving it their all. They were most likely to prepare for interviews by reviewing the company's website (85 percent), and more likely to search for news related to the company they are interviewing with (64 percent), followed by Gen X (58 percent) and Gen Y (53 percent). Boomers, however, were least likely to say they would consider going back to school than continuing their job search (23 percent), compared to 35 percent of Gen X and 48 percent of Gen Y.