Dynamic Generations: How Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers Search for Jobs

New research provides insight on generational differences in the workforce

AUSTIN, Texas – December 11, 2014 The Indeed Hiring Lab, a global research institute committed to advancing the knowledge of human resource and talent management professionals worldwide, analyzed current and future labor trends to uncover the key differences and similarities in job search behavior between Baby Boomers (aged 51-70), Gen Xers (aged 31-50) and Millennials (aged 21-30).

While the workforce is currently divided almost evenly between the three generations, by 2020, as Baby Boomers set out for retirement, Millennials are projected to make up almost half of the workforce. The talent gaps left by these Baby Boomers open up numerous opportunities for Millennials in key industries such as Healthcare.

Mobile is one point of intersection for job seekers from all three generations. Not surprisingly, younger generations overwhelmingly prefer mobile job search — 73.4% of Millennials click on jobs from a mobile device and 71.3% of Gen Xers do the same. However, Baby Boomers are not far behind at 48.4%.

Other key findings from the report

  • Of all generations, Baby Boomers have the most interest in Healthcare Practitioner and Technical occupations as well as in Architecture and Engineering.
  • Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers all search more often in occupations and locations where there are many job postings. However, Millennials are slightly less responsive to the labor market than older generations, due to their lack of experience and familiarity with market conditions.
  • Millennials’ share of clicks in urban areas is much higher than the US average with Boston and New York as top destinations; while Gen Xers are attracted to established tech hubs like Seattle, or high-populated Healthcare areas like Charlotte.
  • While Millennials search more than other generations on Monday mornings, Gen Xers are most active in the evenings.
  • Gen Xers are less generationally distinct, showing similar occupational interests to both Millennials and Baby Boomers when it comes to specific industries.

“Looking at how these generations search for jobs, we’ve uncovered some unique characteristics but also surprising similarities in their approach. Most notably, we found that job seekers at every age respond to labor market conditions, searching more in occupations and locations where there are many jobs. And with unemployment down and confidence high for the first time in many years, employers are finding it more important than ever to attract and retain the right talent and are adapting rapidly to these changing conditions,” said Tara Sinclair, chief economist at Indeed.

The state of jobs in 2020: Preparing for tomorrow’s talent demands

In contrast to the prevailing labor market conditions of recent years, tomorrow’s talent demands will require innovative solutions if they are to succeed in hiring top talent. As labor market trends drive relative interest, certain in-demand occupations will change dramatically in line with employer demands for certain skills and talent as the workforce shifts. According to BLS data, a number of industries are projected to grow significantly by 2022, including:

  1. Healthcare Support – 28% increase
  2. Healthcare Practitioners & Technical – 21.5 % increase
  3. Construction & Extraction – 21.4% increase
  4. Computer & Mathematical – 18% increase
  5. Office & Administrative Support – 6.8% increase

According to Mark McKeen, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition, General Motors, “Our Baby Boomer employees have family members and children who are Millennials, and they have respect for the technological knowledge that they have, along with their ability to challenge convention. We’re in an industry that’s changing drastically and everyone recognizes that we need innovative thinkers at every level of the business.”

With today’s technologies making it more possible for work to take place outside of the office, offering flexibility and new talent opportunities for workers of all types will allow employers to stay competitive by building and retaining the top talent of today for tomorrow.

Employers adapt to generational differences

In addition to the research which reveals the behaviors and preferences of job seekers of all ages, the Indeed Hiring Lab conducted client interviews for employer perspectives on hiring across the three generations.

In a conversation with Jocelyn Lincoln, vice president, Americas recruiting, Kelly Services, she commented, “The biggest discussions we’re having are around flexible and remote work, and this is a change that affects all generations. This has a lot to do with the portability of much of today’s work.”

According to Aaron Kraljev, vice president, employer marketing, Wells Fargo, “While we’ve found that younger segments are more adept at technological advances in the application process, we also know that for most of our workforce, people are basically on the same page in how they approach their job search. It’s part of how anyone looks for a job now.”

For additional data related to the key findings, as well as the detailed generation profiles, please click the link to view the full report here.


# # #

About Indeed

# # #

Contact Information

For Indeed media and press inquiries, please contact:

  • US:
  • Canada:
  • EMEA:
  • APAC: