Recruiting outside the box

von Axel Ebert • Tuesday, 5. September 2023

Generation XYZ – between myth and reality

Dividing candidates into generations X,Y and Z is very popular. But is this really the ultimate solution?

Experience shows: We often use studies and statistics like drunk people use a lantern. We cling to them instead of benefiting from their light. We don’t want to question the concept of generation in general, which sociology has been arguing about more intensely again since 2019. We are interested in the recruiting of personnel.

What is wrong with generational thinking in employer branding?

Relevance instead of significance: The differences between the generations are often so minimal that they are not relevant in practice. Studies show surprisingly few differences in attitudes to issues such as performance, power, reputation, security and self-worth.

Convergence instead of generation effect: The convergence effect suggests that certain attitudes are tied to age. They change with age, life experience and life situation. So whether instant gratification will still be as important to GenZ in 10 years’ time as the cliché now wants it to be – nobody knows. The comparative long-term studies do not yet exist.

Intra beats inter: The differences between generations are smaller than the differences between generations. Experiences, decisions, upbringing, education and social environment influence our personality more than our date of birth. Fortunately, there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

And attention to the potential for discrimination: the generation concept has the potential to prevent inclusion because it prevents an open approach to all applicants. Moreover, it is suspected of producing self-fulfilling stereotypes, the so-called “stereotype thread”. Because if I only hear often enough that I have a short attention span due to my generation, I won’t pick up a thick book anymore.

What is more important than generational horrorscope?

Take a broader approach to recruiting than the generational stereotype. The individual qualifications, specific job characteristics, experience and skills of the applicants are more important than their year of birth.

Good HR work doesn’t think in stereotypes, but in individuals. Your team members will probably be happy to give you hints about what is important to them in the job. And life stages are also worth considering, because needs change when there is offspring – then GenZ won’t go to Greenland for workation either.

Or even better, follow the path of marketing professionals: set trends instead of chasing them. Define what makes your company unique, from employee experience to leadership culture. Deliberately differentiate your employer branding campaign from the data-driven generational horoscopes that all appeal to the same persona.

Get out of the boxes, into what you hope will be the attractive reality of your organisation. Are you in? 🚀

Are you interested in the subject? We will discuss the topic in more detail with specialists at the Corporate Culture Jam in Vienna. It would be great if you were there.

Studies on the current generation debate in recruiting can be found at the end of the following video What comes after the X? IN SEARCH OF GENERATION Y

Best regards
Axel Ebert