You can’t call them the Slacker Generation anymore. Unfairly categorized as directionless and disaffected in their youth, the members of Generation X have grown up. And while it may be easy to focus on the youngest generation of talent, Gen X comprises a highly skilled, highly experienced portion of the talent pool that shouldn’t be ignored. 

To better understand the job-search and decision-making behaviors of Generation X candidates, take a look at these top insights from the 2019 Yello Recruiting Study:

How Old is Generation X?

According to Pew Research Center, Generation X is currently between 39 and 54 years of age and was born between 1965 and 1980.

Although Gen Xers are a little grayer around the temples than their younger millennial and Gen Z colleagues, it would be a mistake to discount their familiarity with modern technology. This generation was applying for its first (and in many cases second and third) jobs at the dawn of the online job search in the ’90s. They’re well acquainted with modern applicant tracking systems, and—believe it or not— they’re more likely to own and use a smartphone than their younger colleagues.

What Are the Most Popular College Majors for Generation X Candidates?

Keeping an eye on college-major trends can help talent acquisition teams plan for the future and avoid nasty surprises. How does Gen Z differ from their millennial and Gen Z counterparts?

  1. Engineering majors have nearly doubled between Gen X and Gen Z (9.66% of Generation Z members are choosing engineering majors now)
  2. Education majors are not as popular among Generation Z (6.25%) as they were among Generation X (12.57%).
A graph depicting what the most popular college majors are for Gen X candidates.

In Which Industries Does Gen X Work?

Just as education has recently declined as a college major, it is also declining as a target industry. Although 21% of Gen X-ers work in education, just 12% of Generation Z plans to work in the field. Keep in mind that while it will be relatively easy to source senior-level education candidates, filling the entry-level ranks will be considerably more challenging.

A graph depicting in which industries Gen X works, with the largest number being in education.

How Long Do Generation X Candidates Expect to Stay in Their Current Roles?

Unlike younger candidates who are more likely to job hop, Generation X candidates are comfortable where they are, and generally plan to stay with their jobs for the long haul. To entice a Gen X candidate away from their current employer, you’ll need to source a wider talent pool, increase your recruitment marketing efforts and offer the right employee benefits.

Graph depicting how long Gen X candidates expect to stay in their roles. Most respondents answered 7+ years.

Where Does Gen X Look For Jobs?

While referrals, company websites, and job boards are the top-three most popular resources among all three generations surveyed, it’s worth noting that millennials and members of Generation Z rank referrals first, job boards second, and company websites third. Generation X, in contrast, ranks referrals first and company websites second. 

Across all generations, focus on using your company’s existing employees as your greatest advocates when it comes to finding fresh talent. 

Graph showing where Gen X looks for jobs, starting at referrals from current/former employees and ending with a Hackathon.

How Do Generation X Candidates Research Companies During the Job Search?

As candidates gain experience, they trust referrals and insights from employees more than any other source, including websites. That shouldn’t be surprising. After all, Generation X candidates have considerably larger networks than younger coworkers and a host of first-hand experience (good and bad) from previous job searches that have taught them what to ask about and look for in their next roles.

A graph depicting how Gen X candidates research companies during the job search with a large emphasis being on insights from current/former employees.

How Does Generation X Prefer to Communicate During the Recruitment Process?

Of all the communication options at a recruiter’s disposal, telephone calls are the most intimate and time-consuming. It doesn’t make sense to call someone to say something like, “Just wanted to let you know that we received your resumes. Thanks for applying, and we’ll be in touch!” But if you wanted to make an attractive senior-level Generation-X candidate with lots of choices feel important and highly desired, then a phone call is absolutely the right choice.

A graph depicting how Gen X prefers to communicate during the recruitment process.

Top Three Ways to Recruit Gen X Talent Today

Here are three things you and your team can do today to make stronger connections with Generation X candidates:

  1. Make sure your company career page tells a compelling story and details the employee journey. Gen X candidates rank company websites #2 on their top job search sources. Surprisingly, only 27% of HR professionals say their company’s website is optimized to attract and convert talent who come there seeking employment information. 
  2. Invest in a quality employee referral program. Leveraging your current employees’ networks can help you find and convert top Gen X candidates faster and at a lower cost than any other sourcing method.
  3. Show your interest by hopping on the phone. Gen Xers aren’t going to feel slighted by emails or texts, but phone calls offer a more personal touch, and that can go a long way toward making them feel respected and wanted.