As a recruiter with about ten years of experience, I’ve had the chance to gain a pretty good understanding of what motivates my specific candidate audience. Any marketer or sales professional will tell you that’s an important part of their job—you cannot market a company’s value proposition to them effectively without it.
So what do candidates really think about work? What is it they’re looking for in a career? There are hundreds of studies on the job preferences of Millennials.
But here’s where it gets interesting: companies that are looking for candidates with 7 to 10 years of experience in a particular field aren’t looking for Millennials.
They’re looking for candidates like me: Candidate X.
Not much has been written about candidates from Generation X. That’s because Generation X (including those born 1965-1985) seems to be almost a forgotten generation when it comes to most studies, let alone those that deal in career attractors. Because they’re sandwiched between the two of the loudest generations in history—the Baby Boomers and Millennials—the media rarely dotes on them. But this Generation represents the skilled talent you’re looking for when you’re trying to fill that difficult role. Your ability (or inability) to engage them and speak to their needs can make or break the candidate experience.
So before you go looking for that skilled talent with 7-10 years of experience, know those individuals come with their own set of expectations. Consider this about Gen Xers when you post for that next position:
Gen Xers want to expand their experience, not replicate it in your role.
One of the most common discussions I have with hiring managers is to remind them that no candidate, especially one from this generation, wants to switch jobs only to do the same thing they’re doing right now. (And if they do, will you be getting the engaged talent you need?)
When a high-performance Gen X candidate is contacted with a new job opportunity, they expect to be approached with a solid value proposition and a good description of how this new role would be different from their current one. If you can’t articulate how they’ll “stretch” to accomplish their mission, don’t bother reaching out.
Gen Xers value satisfaction over money. Yes, really.
Salary will figure into the equation when you’re negotiating with top talent, but as a group, we are tremendously driven by the enjoyment we get from our work and the satisfaction we gain in seeing a work goal accomplished. Again and again, I see highly-skilled talent take a smaller salary to do the work that excites them.
Engage your Gen X candidate by telling them the impact their work will have, not on the bottom line, but on the growth and success of your company and the satisfaction of the customer. Make them understand how important their role is to your mission, and you’ll likely gain their consideration.
Interestingly enough, they value balance over money, too.
The ability to manage (and manage well) the many duties of work and life is something to which Gen X is fiercely committed. Flexible schedules, compressed work weeks, and remote working arrangements are tremendous draws for Gen X job seekers. In my role as a recruiter, I have personally have seen candidates jump at an opportunity that offered far less salary than they were currently making to get the flexible schedule they desire.
Not all positions can offer flexibility in roles across the board, but working with your Gen X candidate to come to an understanding in this area lets them know your culture respects and appreciates balance as much as they do.
Gen X wants to know your culture is aligned with their values (but not in the way Millennials do).
Unlike their Millennial colleagues, Gen X candidates are less interested in the vision or physical environment of an organization than how each will help them achieve their work goals. They want to know: how will they contribute to the success of the business? What is it that makes someone successful at your company, in this role, and on this team?
Remember, your interview is a two-way street. Your candidate is measuring for a “fit” just as much as you are!
Finally, Gen X has no patience for a poor candidate experience.
In fact, it might just be the reason why that top performer you’re searching for is so hard to find. I have seen many incredibly talented candidates back out of the perfect opportunity for them, simply because the application process was painfully slow, or the communication was spotty, or there were just too many steps to go through.
Generation X candidates represent the most highly-sought talent across all industries. If you keep in mind what “passive candidates with 7-10 years of experience,“ may be looking for in their career, your next engagement can be a win for you both.