Every generation has a label: the post-World War II “Baby Boomers,” were followed by the “Gen-X’ers,” with all the expected categorizing attributed to that segment of society.
The generation that followed them, however—called the “Millennials,” (1980 to roughly 2000) is a truly unique and fascinating one, because they happen to be the first generation to have used and relied upon technology almost exclusively. They are the generation that grew up with it in school, took it to college and now use it in the workforce.
For members of the Millennial Generation, everything has been digital. That’s especially true when it refers to members of their ranks landing their first or second job. Technology very likely enabled them to find a job posting online, email their resume, research the hiring company via Google and LinkedIn, and maybe even conduct an initial interview on Skype and send an email or text message to follow up. The importance of this generational “slice” becomes most apparent when you look at global workforce projections.
According to BridgeWorks, in just five years, 50 percent of the American workforce will be comprised of Millennials, and—even more notable—by 2025 they will account for 75 percent of the global workforce.
Millennials are, as they might themselves say, “totally connected,” mostly because there’s never been a time in lives where they didn’t have cell phones and their successors, “smart” phones, at their disposal. Owning and using one is mostly second nature to them. And using them for job seeking, as we well know, is a very different process from what their parents had to do to find a job. In fact, when we take a look at what the process entails today, it couldn’t be very much more different than the preceding generation’s.
Gap of Understanding
What’s surprising in many instances, however, is to see how Millennials are discovering that certain industries—business aviation among them—often take a more traditional approach to hiring. Business aviation managers sometimes employ and rely on tools, techniques and protocols of preceding generations to fill their open jobs and staff their companies. As a result, Millennials might need to lean a bit on members of their parents’ generation for guidance, advice and even financial help.
But you might ask why more traditional recruiting techniques still apply in business aviation. It’s a great question. One reason is that business aviation is often managed by tenured aviation directors from the Baby Boomer generation. Many members of this group still might not be as accustomed to as much computerized communication and social media. Based on API’s experience, these hiring managers are much more used to jobs and jobseekers being referred via word of mouth or the referral of a friend—not by applications to a posting on the Internet. It’s true that for the Boomer generation, there’s still a lot of handshaking and backdoor communication that occurs in order to get deals done. For Millennials, it might be hard to relate to someone who operates in this manner, instead of relying on the cell phone in one’s back pocket to serve as a networking tool.
It’s good to remember that we all embrace what we’re all comfortable with, based on what we’ve been taught. We might tend to gravitate toward someone who operates similarly to the way that we do. Someone who’s been managing business aviation for 30 years might not easily relate to a 28-year old with a newly minted type rating who believes he is ready to move up to captain tomorrow. The Director will likely ask, “What has this kid done to cut his teeth? He doesn’t understand how aviation works!”
The “Me Generation”
One thing that characterizes the Millennials is that there’s often an air of “it’s all about me” associated with their generation. If it’s true, it’s not entirely their fault. In my view, Millennials are a product of an ultra-nurturing culture, one in which parents teach their kids that everyone is a hero and everyone deserves an accolade or a trophy. As a society, we think that our children can do no wrong and can achieve anything imaginable. Unfortunately, this way of coaching and preparing our future leaders hasn’t proven to be easily translated in the workplace.
As a member of this so-called entitled and whiny generation, I’d like to address this idea with a simple answer: We are.
But we did not develop these traits without the assistance of the generations who forged the path before us, laying down the groundwork for the development of us ‘Gen Yers.’ It was simple. We were told to stay in school: we did. To get our high school diploma: we did. To graduate from college: we did. We were engrained with the notion that the key to financial security and success was education and hard work. So we developed dreams, and we followed them.
The problem is, the country wasn’t actually ready for an entire generation to actually do what was asked of them. No longer was a college education and hard work the ticket to success; and now, rightfully, my Millennial Generation is . . . unemployed and frustrated.
Considering this, the best advice I can offer young business aviation professionals today is to stay low on the radar. It’s important to be relatable to other generations, including the one coming up from below them known as “Gen Z” or “Gen Edgers.”
And I agree that parents should advise their kids to still practice some of the “traditional stuff.” Here are some pointers:
1. Be prepared.
Recognize the generation gaps—think about the people to whom you’re reporting, and remember that they probably typed their résumé on a typewriter, focused on eye contact, built person-to-person relationships, with an emphasis on family and personal interests.
2. Be presentable.
Be mindful of everything, from the nature of your email communication (no emoticons or excessive exclamation marks) to your dress code (wear a suit) and your eye contact.
3. Be patient.
Speak slowly, be cordial and wait until the hiring manager has finished talking—otherwise you might come across as off-putting. Patience in the corporate aviation job market will pay off—there’s often a lot of red tape involved and offers don’t happen over night.
4. Be hungry.
This means be willing to do whatever you can to get the job. It’s not about saying “Here I am and I’m going to counter 25 percent more on the offer.” Counter offers are not generally working in the pilot ranks of business aviation (or other industries) and can backfire, leaving you without any job offers.
5. Be coachable.
Even if you do well in the interview, you’re still competing against other candidates. What will set you apart is your presence, humility and ability to follow through. That’s why it’s important to send a follow-up email the day of your interview, as well a more formal, handwritten note in the mail.
6. Be relatable.
As someone interested in technology or new ways of being productive and efficient, you can teach people in a positive way without being condescending. You can also show people that you’re interested, willing to learn and have respect for the way things have always been done in the past.
Regardless what generational label you might be attached to by virtue of your age, whether you’re looking for a job or just looking to fit in, it’s vitally important to always take the long view—that is, look a bit outside yourself and try to understand the methods and motivations of those you come into contact with on a daily basis. Regardless if you happen to be a Millennial, a Gen Xer or even a Baby Boomer, keeping an open mind is a policy that cuts across every generation.
Did you like this blog? Check out this post about Engaging Four Generations on the Job.