Compiling a resume that shows off your skills and experience without opening up the potential for age discrimination is an art.
But while many job seekers may be under the impression that most companies are focusing efforts on attracting younger talent, experts say that there are undeniable advantages Generation X (born between 1965-1980) has over talent from other generations.
“Ranging today in their early 40s to mid-50s, Generation X is one of the biggest employment groups in the United States,” explains Jessica Lim, HR Manager at MyPerfectResume.
“They compose one-third of the national labor force. Being in the shadow of baby boomers and millennials, they’re often referred to as the ‘forgotten middle child.’ However, Gen Xers should not be disregarded, as they can significantly contribute to the overall workforce.”
Here’s a look at the top ways Gen X has the edge over others in the workplace.
1. They’ve mastered work/life balance
“Watching many of their Boomer parents driven to work long hours and sacrifice a great deal for career success, Gen Xers began their professional lives looking to ‘work to live, rather than live to work,'” explains Megan Gerhardt, professor of management at the Farmer School of Business at Miami University and author of Gentelligence: The Revolutionary Approach to Leading an Intergenerational Workforce.
“Their determination for the integration of work/family rather than having to choose one paved the way for onsite childcare and more flexible work arrangements,” she continues.
“This is serving them particularly well during their current life stage (age 42-56 as of 2021) where many are simultaneously caring for adolescent children and aging parents at the same time, while at the peak years of their career trajectory.”
2. They’re more experienced and specialized in their fields of work
“Employees belonging to Generation X win in terms of experience,” Anjela Mangrum, President of Mangrum Career Solutions and a Certified Personnel Consultant.
“Extensive years of practical implementation of their knowledge has made them skilled in many valuable areas.”
3. They fill a soft skills gap
“While this may be due to various reasons, it’s evident that a soft skills gap is developing with successive generations,” says Mangrum.
“Instead of adapting to the system, most millennials tend to try and make the system adapt to them. Gen Xers continue to be the best team players with superior communication and coordination skills than their successors.”
4. They’re pandemic MVPs
“At the beginning of the lockdowns last spring, social media was abuzz about how well-suited Gen Xers were for the challenge,” says Gerhardt.
“While many Millennials grew up immersed in excess extracurriculars and had little free time on their hands, Gen X was almost the polar opposite. Many Gen Xers were left to their own devices after school (the original latchkey kids) until mom and dad came home from working those long hours, leading to a sense of independence and an ability to fend for themselves. Self-directed sometimes to a fault, many Gen Xers felt a sense of familiarity hunkered down in their homes with nowhere else to go, and reported lower levels of struggle with working from home compared to Millennials and Gen Z.”
5. They’re digital mediators
“Gen Xers are the original digital immigrants,” explains Gerhardt.
“With personal computers and the internet being introduced during their college years at the latest and for many, during the early years of their careers when doing so quickly gave them an edge and unique skill set compared to older workers who were less willing to learn. Having experienced education and work before and after the tech boom, Gen Xers have their feet in two realities: being on the early end of the digital learning curve but also understanding the way people worked before the technology surge, seeing the benefits and drawbacks of both ends of the spectrum. This makes them well suited to be mediators in generational battles between tried and true “old school” approaches and innovative new ways of integrating tech into our workplaces.”
6. They’re excellent problem solvers
“A major advantage of Gen X is perseverance,” says Susan Norton, Senior Director of Human Resources at LiveCareer.
“Employees representing this group are more likely to look for solutions before deciding that something can’t be done or should be abandoned. Gen Xers are more likely than Millennials or Gen Z to fix the problem instead of leaving it and proceeding to the next task.”
Why is that?
“This difference might be related to a lower influence of throw-away society and consumerism on this group,” says Norton.
“Gen X often could not afford to get rid of broken products and looked for creative ways to make them work again. Similar behavior can be observed in Gen X’s work-style and general attitude toward workplace problems or conflicts.”
7. They’re more loyal
“We see a similar phenomenon when it comes to job switching,” says Norton.
“As Millennials are famous for job-hopping, Gen Xers explore development opportunities in their company first before going to a new place where the grass looks greener.”