Every so often, we have a generational shift – Baby Boomers, Generation X, Gen Y. Every time this happens, all the changes in behaviour, in interests, in work ethics, in motivational drivers are being dissected and highlighted, new modi operandi imagined, claims made – out with the old, in with the new.

Within recruitment, Gen Y is currently a really big, serious and hot topic, discussed in articles, celebrated in blogs, elevated to tracks and recorded on videos for everybody to view and nobody to miss.

I am not entirely sure why?

I know that to integrate one needs to differentiate, and I therefore understand the need for some Gen Y’s to celebrate their difference. But Ialso know that the differences within generations are wider than in between different generations.

I think the Gen Y hoopla actually hinders a meaningful discussion about the changing values and behaviours that we currently experience. I think it’s quite an indulgent and introverted world view. No marketing campaign would ever target Gen Y’s or Gen X’s or Baby Boomers – it’s far too wide and too broad. It restricts us from looking at the real shifts and real issues such as the digital divide, etc. And most importantly:
It takes the beauty out of the diversity of us humans.

Instead of slapping any of these labels onto our foreheads, let’s look at the really elegant and dynamic approach of Spiral Dynamics. This school of psychology was used, for example, to overcome apartheid in South Africa. It covers the different stage of human development and the dynamics and tensions within. It looks at the individual as well as groupings of individuals such as companies, states, etc.

At Jobsite we use spiral dynamics to segment the candidate market, to influence our communication. We now have over 90,000 profiles within the UK. These are based on the Jobsite Personal Profiles that we built together
with Dr Paul Morgan. It gives the individual a guide to better understanding him/herself, and even more importantly a guide on what company he/she would strive in and what questions to ask in an interview to identify the company. Have a go, it’s really interesting.

So, it was entertaining to participate in the Gen Y chat and as much as it was entertaining to read Douglas Coupland’s novel “Generation X” and as much as it’ll be entertaining to dissect Gen Z, but now let’s move on and let’s spend our time
implementing segmentations and solutions that are life-enhancing.

Views: 111

Comment by Guy Farmer on April 20, 2010 at 11:13am
Well said Felix. I think it's helpful to note that if we always focus on differences we tend to function from that point of view. If we look for things we have in common we tend to look for ways to come together. I suppose it's seemingly convenient to lump a group together and say they behave a certain way but that tends to overlook the wide range of talents and abilities present in any population. If we keep our eyes open for positive attributes rather than writing people off for being from a certain group we create more opportunities to grow and succeed.

Take care,



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