The job market has changed drastically over the past few decades. As baby boomers re-enter the workforce or change jobs later in life, they are encountering a landscape that looks very different from the one they navigated earlier in their careers.
Here are some of the key things boomers may struggle to grasp about the modern employment sphere, along with advice from career experts on how to adapt.
The Benefits of Job Hopping
“Baby boomers don’t understand that job hopping is a great way to improve their professional situation,” explained Nathan Brunner, CEO of job search platform Salarship. “This is primarily due to their deep-rooted values and long-standing commitment to their careers.”
Having come of age when loyalty and tenure were highly valued, boomers often hesitate to switch jobs frequently. However, Brunner emphasized that “this mindset conflicts with the modern job market, where frequent job changes are necessary to get better compensation.”
His advice to boomers? “Keep an eye on the job market and compare their current position with other opportunities.” With strategic job changes every few years, boomers can propel their careers and earnings. Loyalty to one company is less advantageous today. By embracing job hopping, boomers can get ahead in the new employment landscape.
The Power of Personal Branding
“One monumental shift I noticed was the move from unwavering company loyalty to the savvy crafting of a personal brand,” explained Tara Furiani, CEO and author at Not the HR Lady. “Baby boomers often subscribe to the antiquated belief that your professional worth is closely tied to your tenure at a single organization. Fast forward to now, and it’s clear that loyalty has taken a backseat to agility and personal branding.”
According to Nicholas Hurley, managing partner of Executive Agents, a top concern he sees among boomers is social media like LinkedIn. “They either don’t have a profile at all or fear that their current one is inadequate fearing they don’t understand it properly,” he explained. They may be hesitant to use social media, but it’s crucial for networking and personal branding.
Furiani’s advice to boomers is to “Stop playing by old rules. The modern career game prizes adaptability and a well-crafted personal brand.” Focus less on years with one company and more on showcasing your versatile skill set.
Understanding Applicant Tracking Systems
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are software tools that streamline recruitment. They sort through job applications, keep track of who’s applying, help pick the best candidates, and make it easier for the hiring team to find candidates.
“Most baby boomers are unaware that ATS algorithms screen the resumes they send to recruiters,” said Brunner. “This puts them at a disadvantage compared to younger generations, who spend time optimizing their CV and are more likely to pass this preliminary filter.”
Hurley said that ATS tools may seem daunting to boomers. “In reality these systems are generally quite simple but for someone who has not been on the job market for many many years ATS can seem like a daunting technology that has the potential to undermine all their hard work preparing applications.”
The key is optimizing resumes with keywords to get past the initial screen. “This will not only help them pass the ATS screening but also indicate to recruiters that they are a good fit for the position.” added Brunner.
The Decline of 9-to-5 Schedules
Furiani pointed out that “rigid 9-to-5 work schedules have started to go the way of the fax machine.” She added, “The younger workforce demands flexibility.”
While boomers may see flexible schedules as laziness, or a lack of commitment, Furiani said to “drop the judgments and get with the program. The new flexible arrangements aren’t a fad; they’re here to stay. Adapt or get left behind.”
Furiani also explained how rigid hierarchies are fading in favor of open collaboration. “Hierarchies are no longer as rigid as boomers remember them. Collaboration, teamwork, and cross-functional relationships are the orders of the day.”
Her advice to boomers again is to “put the ego aside. Age or rank doesn’t entitle you to a seat at the table anymore; your ideas and contributions do. Learn to be a team player in a multi-generational workplace.”
The Rising Importance of Diversity and Inclusion
Furiani highlighted how diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives have shifted from a formality to a core priority. “Older generations might think DEI initiatives are simply politically correct formalities, but let’s cut the crap — today, they are absolutely mission-critical.”
Her advice? “Lean into the new era. The job market is demanding a shift in attitudes toward DEI. Understand it, embrace it, and integrate it into your professional persona.”
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