Generational Differences of Candidates for Employment Demand Individualized Attention

  By Frank Burtnett  |    Monday October 30, 2023

Category: Columns, Expert Advice, Productivity


EMInfo Reader:  How can recruiting and staffing industry professionals respond effectively to an emerging workforce that is expected to represent the broadest spectrum of people possessing the greatest assortment of ideals, values and interests in history?


Dr. Burtnett: By acknowledging the diversity of the current and future workforce, you have taken the first step in serving the needs of those seeking to enter or change positions in the American workplace. 

There are, however, some other elements of the question that demand attention. Social scientists today will attest to the differences that have come to be identified by Dr. Jill Novak in her research and writing (see reference below). Dr. Novak has identified the following six living generations as displaying the living and lifestyle characteristics that separated them from generations that bother preceded and followed them:


GI Generation


Baby Boomers

Generation X

Generation Y / Millennials

Generation Z


Regardless of the identities that are used to label different age groups, recognition of how time and events can influence people is the first step in providing first-rate services to them. It means that the service provider acknowledges that individuals of varying ages look at the world differently than their parents and grandparents and accept the notion that their children and grandchildren will adopt identities that reflect the times in which they are living.

Recruiters and staffing specialists know better than how most how candidates of varying ages and representing different generations see and approach their careers, occupations, and jobs. Those that recognize and dismiss the belief that “one size can fit all” are likely enjoying the greatest success in their recruiting and staffing work. Allowance for any and all types of individual differences is known to  result in a personalization of the transitional process that will result in a win-win situation.

As one example, let’s look at one characteristic that the younger generations appear to value greater than their elders---life work balance. In matters of compensation and benefits, on- or-off site work settings, work calendars, and other employment protocols,  Gen Xers, Yers, and the others comprising the rising workforce members are more desirous of life-work balance than earlier workers. The extent to which recruiters and staffing professionals learn and accommodate such differences will play an important role in how they will build a relationship and benefit from the services you place before them. 

Each generation, using a mix of personal, social, cultural, cognitive, or other influences, has added to the ways individuals view work in their lives and the aspects of work they hope to find when they enter or move about the workplace. Not finding the qualities and characteristics they desire in their current employment may be the reason they become active candidates for job change. The more personal their view of your approach to helping them may become the most important factor in their desire to work with you. 


Bottom line: View every candidate as if she/he was your only candidate!


Note: Readers may wish to examine the generational characteristics that Dr. Jill Novak of Phoenix University and Texas A&M University has assigned to each of the generations that are currently living in America. Her writing can be found at:

The Career Mechanic is a monthly treatment of a career development issue or problem by Frank Burtnett, Ed.D, an educator, counselor, author, and consultant.

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