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Study: Generational Job Seekers Aren't Using All Their Tools

Recruiters take note: Baby boomers, Gen X and millennials are spending almost all their time job searching online instead of offline. Boomers turn to LinkedIn first, while Gen X and millennials are first using Google and Google Plus.

October 9, 2012
Related Topics: Online Recruiting, Technology
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Job candidates should capitalize on a more diverse set of resources when looking for work, say the sponsors of a new study on how different generations conduct their job searches.

The multigenerational job-search study was released Sept. 24 by Beyond.com, a Pennsylvania-based career network that helps connect job seekers and employers, and Millennial Branding, a Generation Y research and management consulting firm based in Boston. It surveyed 5,268 job seekers, including 742 from the millennials (roughly ages 18 to 29), 1,676 from Generation X (ages 30 to 47) and 2,850 baby boomers (ages 48 to 67).

The study found that all generations were spending almost all of their time job searching online instead of offline, and spending between five and 20 hours per week searching. Boomers turn to LinkedIn first, while Gen X and millennials are first using Google and Google Plus.

Fewer than 15 percent of all generations reported having their own professional website, said Dan Schawbel, founder and managing partner of Millennial Branding and a Gen Y expert and author. As a result, candidates are missing out on a huge opportunity, he said.

"You'd think more people would invest in their own website because that's your place to really differentiate yourself and show all you can provide to a company," he said. "You can do that through videos, too, not just posting your résumé, and you can create a blog."

Joe Weinlick, vice president of marketing for Beyond.com, said more job seekers should customize their cover letters and create more of a professional presence online.

"If they're not doing these things, the employer is not going to find them because they're generic," Weinlick said. "They have to be thinking, 'What do I look like online?' "

Weinlick said there's also a clear message from employers from the results. Because candidates aren't really promoting themselves well, employers need to come up with better ways to find the best prospects, he said.

One suggestion, Weinlick said, was for employers to create three or four different job posting descriptions for the same position. In this way, employers might find more candidates with slightly different experience levels that can each work for a given opening.

While social media and online tools can be invaluable in the job search, Schawbel cautioned candidates not to rely on those tools completely. "If everyone is searching online, maybe you can do more searching offline," he said. "At the end of the day, you can't really get hired without meeting someone face to face, and I don't see that changing anytime soon."

Other key highlights of the study include:

  • The length of the job search is greatest for baby boomers, followed by Gen X and then millennials, with 25 percent of baby boomers having a job search of more than a year.
  • Job boards are the top resources for job seekers of all generations, and are most popular with baby boomers. The second most popular resource is company websites, followed by classified ads.
  • Entrepreneurship is on the rise among all generations. About a third of all respondents considered starting their own business rather than continuing their job search. The study notes 36 percent of Gen X, 35 percent of baby boomers and 31 percent of millennials have considered becoming entrepreneurs.

Meg McSherry Breslin is a writer based in the Chicago area. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com.

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