How to channel your inner Millennial/Gen Xer/Boomer to advance your career

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As long as there have been people of different generations sharing the planet, there’s been the belief that one knows how to do things better than the other.

That generation gap most famously made media headlines in the 1960s, when the anti-war protesters and hippies decided to choose love over war and a more tuned-out lifestyle over previously stringent responsibilities. Lately, there seems to be something of an almost aggressive intergenerational gap.

Gen Z (born sometime between 1996 and 2015) seems to disparage their slightly elder peer group of Millennials (1980-1996) who in turn are completely dismissive of Boomers (1946-1965).

Last fall a meme and expression of the utmost dismissal if not disdain was coined and widely spread. OK Boomer became a way to immediately (if not entirely effectively) dismiss someone of an older generation.

But let’s back up for a moment. Sure, it can be hard to relate to people older or younger than you are, but why assume that there are no life or career lessons to be learned? And while we’re on the topic, why does everyone seek to leave Gen X (1965-1979) out of the equation? We’re both cranky and insightful and have been underestimated for a long time now.

Generation Xers are scrappy and used to getting our hands dirty. Even though we’ve paid our dues, we are always ready to dig in and get the job done. It probably comes from getting into the job market in the early 1990s, during a recession. We didn’t have the luxury of saying “no”; and this mindset continues to this day, offered Sacha Cohen, founder of Grassfed Media and the co-host of GenX Stories, a podcast about how the so-called “lost generation” found itself.

And while we don’t have to always like each other’s music or methods of communication, there are loads of career lessons we can all learn from each other.

Job hunt like a Boomer

“When searching for a job in 2020, channeling your inner Boomer means finding a position with plenty of flexibility to fit in other priorities, like travel or volunteer work,” said Mark Silverman, the CEO and founder of Amava.com, a website that helps connects Boomers with flexible job opportunities. “The ‘8-hours, 5 days-a-week straight’ notion of full-time work is morphing and more than almost any other demographic, Boomers are taking advantage of it. Maybe that means starting work at 7 am, taking a fitness break for an hour or two at three and finishing up later in the day.

“Or it could be choosing to work a 3 or 4-day work week. The best part is that flexible schedules have been shown to result in a healthier and more productive workforce. Meaning that even if it takes more time and effort for employers to manage, the payoff can be significant for all parties involved. This is a great reason to act like a Boomer when hunting for a job in 2020.”

Boomer lesson learned: Flexibility is key when looking for the career of your dreams. Maybe it’s the amount of time worked or the location but being open to new approaches means you might find an unexpected job of your dreams on the way.

Learn to adapt like Gen X

Gen X has a lot to teach younger generations about how to succeed in the workplace,” Cohen said. “For one, we’re resilient, having entered the workforce during the early 1990s recession. Resilience is such an important quality in life and at work, especially for those in the gig economy, which can be very up and down.” Cohen also explained that, “Gen Xers had to learn how to quickly adapt to change. We had to learn quickly or risk getting left behind as the world transformed from analog to digital before our eyes. Many of us were early adopters of the Internet and digital communications. This ability to adapt, learn, and be nimble is critical to success in today’s workplace.”

Gen X lesson learned: Learning how to bounce back from a small setback means you’re already working toward more resilience which will help you throughout your entire career.

And keep learning new technologies so you don’t get left behind, something Gen Z seems already well- versed in.

And some Millennial career lessons

Be smart about your social media: Millennials more than any other generation use their social media in their job hunt. Make sure to keep the embarrassing selfies to a minimum.

Celebrate diversity and corporate responsibility: One thing Millennials do best is ensure that the workspace looks different than in generations past. Stop expecting an ideal boss to look or work one way and instead open yourself up to the power of a diverse and more responsible work environment.