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Generational Differences During the Recruiting Process: Should You Be Concerned?

When you are recruiting talent for your business, you learn that people come in different shapes, sizes, education, and experience. There are age differences as well. Each generation that enters the workforce brings with it its own unique perspectives and values. These differences between members of generational groups in the hospitality workplace call for new industry-specific strategies in recruiting.

The Recruiting Challenges

In addition to overcoming generational gap biases, hiring managers must also consider the resistance of others to assimilate new recruits. Those biases and prejudices must be considered in order to bring in a new recruit effectively into a team. This all begins with an understanding of the traits of each generation. Only then can you modify your recruiting efforts to attract new talent from each generation.

Understanding Generations

Before hiring from various generational groups, it’s a good idea to have an understanding of them and their stereotypes. They all have different backgrounds, work values and beliefs. But this also means they bring in a variety of gifts, skills and talents into your hospitality business.  There are four main groups that can provide the talent you need for your business:

  • Baby Boomers-Individuals born between 1946 and 1955. They represent the stereotype of the men and women who tuned in, got high, dropped out, and dodged the draft. It is thought that they swung in the Sixties and became hippies in the Seventies.
  • Generation X-These are folks born between 1965 and 1980, and are stereotyped as being the “latch-key kids.” They grew up street-smart but isolated, often with divorced or career-driven parents.
  • Generation Y or Millennials-There are no precise dates when this generation starts and ends. Researchers and commentators use birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. This group is known as sophisticated, technology wise, and immune to most traditional marketing. The thought is that they’ve seen it all and been exposed to it all since early childhood.
  • Generation Z-Generation Z (Gen Z) follows after the Millennials and defines individuals born between 1997-2013. This group has never known a world without computers and cell phones. Their digital devices have become a part of them and they see them as important as breathing.

Recruiting for All Generations

We all know the challenges of finding qualified candidates for open positions in the hospitality field. And the US Bureau of Labor Statistics findings confirm them. The rate of turnover in the hospitality industry is 2 to 3 times the rate of all other industries. This was before the Great Resignation! This is good enough reason to target every generation for job candidates. For most hospitality businesses, every generation offers the necessary talent needed.

To ensure you are targeting all generations in your recruiting efforts, incorporate the following four steps:

  1. Recruitment Marketing

In order to attract candidates from all generations, hospitality businesses need to adopt a recruitment marketing strategy. Recruitment Marketing is the process of attracting and nurturing talented individuals to your hospitality business. The main goal of recruitment marketing is to drive individuals to apply to the open positions your company has available.

Since we want to attract all generations, your recruitment marketing strategy must be broad-based. This means that your branding efforts must be focused on attracting the full generational spectrum. For example, Gen Z might see your company as a good fit because of the technology used for guest services. Whereas Baby Boomers like the fact that they can work flexible hours. Recruitment marketing begins with your brand. It is the front line recognition for all generations.

  1. Employee Value Proposition

In your branding strategy, be sure to highlight everything you offer to your employees in exchange for their work. Include these perks on your website, in your promotional materials, and on job boards. Don’t leave anything out. You want to be able to attract all generations. In that sense, your employee value proposition (EVP) must include points that appeal to everyone.

To make your EVP effective, highlight what makes working in your hospitality business great. Include things like flexible schedule, fun work environment, career growth, etc. For the Gen Zs, demand a digitized experience when applying for jobs. Even in entry-level positions, you can WOW them with an impressive EVP and brand. For example, is your application process mobile friendly? Can they navigate at lightening speed through your website? Are you personalizing the experience for them?

For the Baby Boomers and maybe Gen Xers, do you offer the option of downloading an application? Maybe they prefer to print and mail it in. Your marketing efforts to bring in customers is customized for your specific market. So should your recruiting marketing be for potential job candidates from every generation. For example, if you want to target Gen Z people, understand what it is that they want. According to the CGK’s 2022 State of Gen Z report, it’s money. The report found that for 49% of respondents, salary was one of the top factors attracting this generation. That’s up from 37% last year

But for Baby Boomers, the main draw is a job nearby with set hours. These folks are considered the “Steady Eddies.” They know that they are available from 7:00am to 3:00pm, and that’s when they’ll work. They typically don’t like change and they will be loyal to a good employer. To attract them, include in your branding and EVP open positions that include health benefits. More retirees or Baby Boomers are returning to the workforce for health benefits, money, and camaraderie.

  1. Hire for Personality and Attitude—Train for Skills

One of the drawbacks for hospitality businesses seeking job candidates is the hiring manager is typically looking for skilled talent. In today’s job market, that is a mistake. Those candidates are rare and hard to find. For both young and older candidates, it’s all about the personality rather than skillsets. If you think about it, you don’t need someone with receptionist experience. You can teach people how to check in guests. You can also teach people how to serve a table. If you find a candidate with a great attitude and personality, the rest is easy.

Seek candidates from all generations that have a good outlook toward work. You can usually find this out during the interview. And this isn’t about simply getting someone who can fog a mirror. No. This is about finding someone willing to work and learn the position. James Cash Penney, (of JC Penney fame), said it best. “I would hire a man with no skills and a good attitude than a skilled man with a poor attitude.”

  1. Move Fast and Respond Quickly

Once an application is received, you should jump on it and follow through on the process. Don’t leave the candidate in the dark. Every generation across the board finds it rude if they don’t hear back from the employer. Act fast so you don’t lose any opportunities of a good find. If you are using Zoom or some other platform to interview the candidate, make sure you provide links and instructions.

Different, But the Same

There are age differences between the four generations you are trying to recruit. But all of their desires when applying for a position in the hospitality industry are the same. They basically boil down to:

  • Knowing the meaning and purpose behind your business
  • The offer of flexibility
  • Workplace culture that prioritizes employee well-being
  • Investment in career development opportunities
  • Embracing diversity and inclusion

That’s it. To recruit all generations, include the above in your EVP marketing. Presenting a good, solid brand and being clear about your business will attract all ages. Do this and the generational challenges won’t seem to great.

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