Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Generation A

It might seem a bit weird to be writing about hiring talent at a time when the numbers of announced job reductions seem to rise about as fast as the clock that tracks the national debt, but as bad as the employment landscape is likely to be for the next year or two, the fact of the matter is that organizations will still be looking for talent. Indeed in the current environment one could easily make the argument that the need for "A" level talent and leadership is more important than ever.

If you are like me, the alphabet soup of X's, Y's, Millennials, Boomers, etc. about which we read almost daily can get fairly confusing in very short order, and when you couple the definitions of these generational cohorts with what turns one on and the other off, it often feels like you need to do a DNA analysis before you dare start an interview.

As is so often true with subjects that tend to take on a "flavor of the month" feel, it usually takes someone who not only is steeped in the industry but as importantly can translate his knowledge in a way that value adds to the discourse in order to make really telling points. Based on such a description, those who roam around the staffing space would immediately think of Pete Weddle.

A recent article in Pete's newsletter which he called Generation A got me to thinking yet once again about the challenges of hiring at any time irrespective of what the economy was doing. What is a Generation A you ask? Pete describes them as:
Gen As never, ever look for a job. In fact, they can't even conceive of themselves as job seekers. Why? Because every job change they've made in their career was initiated by someone else.
and the point he goes on to make in this piece is this:
So, here's the bottom line. If you want to win the War for Any Talent, tailor your recruiting to the age differences among generations. If you want to win the War for the Best Talent, focus, instead, on the talent differences within generations. Why? Because the best talent-Generation A-was born in 1947, 1976 and in 1990, as well.
As I finished reading his article, it reminded me of something that we at ExecuNet have found to be true during the twenty years that we have been roaming around the staffing world for senior level talent - the search for "A" players is never in a recession.


Sathi Vanigasooriar said...


Once again I have to agree with you 100%. I am a consultant and over the years I have come to know some Gen A's.

If you get to know on how to attract them and keep them motivated then that is a pot of gold.

I wish I could talk about Gen A's and the patterns in detail. I strongly believe this is where a true executive has to put his/her focus. Your thoughts?


Dave Opton said...


I think the major challenge faced by the leader of any organization is to manage each member of his/her team in a way that best motivates that particular individual in addition to setting the tone for the organization as a whole.

Said differently, we all know that the value systems that seem to characterize generations are clearly influenced by the events of that generation in the same way that the value systems of each of us as individuals are greatly influenced by our parents.

I think people are both attracted and retained in organizations because leaders recognize both of these things and manage accordingly.

Thanks for taking the time to comment.