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Generational differences drive career choices
Thursday 4th October 2007 7:37 am EST

In a new book on breaking down generational barriers at work, generational researcher and long-time HR specialist, Avril Henry, has identified what drives each generation, and included a special focus on people in the recruitment industry. Launched this week, Inspiring tomorrow's leaders today - Breaking down generational barriers at work does not deal with the recruitment process and techniques for attracting different generations, as Henry says there are many good books addressing that area. Instead, she focuses on how to retain, lead and motivate each generation. Career choices and career management Henry surveyed members of each generation about what a career means to them, finding there were differences not only between generations but also depending on the industries in which they work. She found:

Baby Boomers primarily want financial security and job satisfaction. In the recruitment industry, they also want to learn about life in general, opportunities to learn new things, job satisfaction, to grow within the organisation, to manage changes (both cultural and technological) and to understand and manage the modern workforce; Generation X sees career more as a means to continually advance and acquire new skills. Those in the recruitment industry want personal fulfilment, challenge and stimulation, personal development, recognition and "simply a means to an end"; Generation Y has a completely different view of career. Henry said this, "makes sense when you consider they will have at least two distinctive career changes before they are even 30 years of age." She says they think a career is about enjoyment, freedom and new challenges. In both the private and public sectors (no specific recruitment industry data is available), Gen Y identified the following as important in their career: something to


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Print Article - Generational differences drive career choices

enjoy, changes with time, advancement and progression, having greater freedom and choices, constant change, new challenges, recognition and satisfaction, developing life skills, interest in the industry and field of work, engagement, job satisfaction (but not when it takes over other aspects of life), experiencing the wider world, different jobs in different countries, and keeping themselves entertained. Interestingly, there were some strong similarities among the generations' varied responses to the question, "Where do you see your career in five to 10 years' time?" Boomers said:
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still working full-time to maintain lifestyle, pay off debts and support Gen Y children; working part-time or flexible hours; doing something different; in more senior management roles, and/or on boards; and retired (but this was a minority group).

Gen X said:

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still looking for challenging opportunities to enable ongoing professional and personal growth; working part-time to balance work and family responsibilities; in a different job, different career and different organisation; and in more senior management roles, leading others.

Gen Y said:
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no limits! Open to all interesting opportunities; running my own business; doing something different; in a position of influence, in the same or a different industry; rich and semi-retired; and no idea!

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