Old vs. Young: How Generational Differences Affect Your Career Success

Old vs. Young: How Generational Differences Affect Your Career Success

A common mistake professionals make today is to think their career will start low and end high.

They assume as the years pass, their careers will only get better. Sort of like this:


However, studies show that in reality, most careers follow more of a bell curve like this:


In short, a lot of professionals peak mid-career. Here’s why...


Older & Younger Job Seekers Both Struggle With “Experience Extremes”

Based on the bell curve reality, many recent college grads and very seasoned pros experience challenges in finding work that suits them. In fact, they’re more likely to experience underemployment than their mid-career counterparts. Why? Because being on either side of the age spectrum creates ‘experience extremes’ that employers struggle with. For example, most entry-level jobs today usually ask for “2 years of experience” because employers don’t want to hire new college grads who don’t have any work experience and are viewed as professionally immature. Companies feel they take too long to train on basic business protocol and often jump to new jobs the moment they are finally able to produce value in their roles. Companies also tend to avoid hiring seasoned pros for fear they will be too set in their ways and expect too much money for a job the company feels can be handled by a lower-cost mid-career professional. Either way, both older and younger job seekers find themselves having to work harder to get a satisfying job.

Solution: Use Generational Differences To Your Advantage!

Ironically, while older and younger professionals struggle to fix their underemployment dilemma independently, the solution actually lies in them coming together. Building relationships with people from another generation helps us close the gap in critical skills and knowledge needed to show employers we are a good fit for their roles. For example… Recent grads who identify and reach out to seasoned pros to set up informational interviews can learn a lot about basic business protocol that will help them do better in job interviews. Conversely, seasoned pros who reach out to young professionals can learn a ton about technology and new trends in their industry.

Are You Relatable? That’s The Real Key To Long-term Career Success

When older and younger professionals network together, it not only helps them upskill one another, it also teaches them how to be more relatable to the other generation - and that’s the real secret to career success today. Employers need to know we’re capable of adapting and working effectively with all age groups. When we learn to respect the value people from other generations bring to the workplace, we are seen as team players who can maximize our value and effectiveness by leveraging relationships with co-workers. If you don’t want your career to go the way of the bell curve, focus on becoming ageless. Eliminate assumptions employers make based on your age, and show them you don’t fit the stereotype. Post written by J.T. O'DonnellThis post was written by as part of the University of Phoenix Versus Program. I’m a compensated contributor, but the thoughts and ideas are my own.   Photo Credit: Shutterstock
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