When Roles Are Reversed

by Accuro

Job seekers of all ages are among those seeking new career opportunities – recent graduates, Gen X employees and professionals over 50 alike.  Although four generations are working side-by-side in the workplace, there is still a degree of resistance when it comes to communicating between generations.  Employees of different generations can be defiant at times when placed in workplace situations.  Bridging the generational gap in the workplace will not happen overnight; but it is important to start off the New Year progressing towards more efficient communication.  With Baby Boomers making up the majority of those making hiring decisions today, Millennials expect to interview with and report to more experienced professionals.  However, what happens when roles are reversed and a more experienced professional must interview with or report to someone with less experience?

A recent CNN article offers advice to job seekers over 50. There is an art to communicating between generations, one which every individual in business will have to master in order to succeed. Firstly, let's address the elephant in the room: age.  If your interviewer appears to be younger than you, why not use that to your own advantage?  As a young Millennial, I have experienced this first-hand.  When I have interviewed a more experienced professional, I have heard comments along the lines of “Wow! I could be your mom!”  Such an introduction makes for an awkward start to an interview.  Suppose the interviewer feels intimidated by the experienced professional, or perhaps the experienced professional assumes that the younger interviewer feels superior because of the reversal in roles.  No matter what angle you examine the situation, there is one simple truth:  you can help each other succeed.  When encountering these unexpected situations, remaining respectful of each other and willing to work together regardless of age or hierarchy will help your chances of obtaining and succeeding in that position. 

Using your experience to your advantage, remaining confident in your abilities, and retaining a certain level of flexibility will get you in the door and possibly even secure a position – but what about keeping that position?  By proving that you go against the grain in regard to typecasting generational characteristics, the right people will take notice and you will be a catalyst in bridging the generational gap within the workplace.  Obstacles are in place to challenge us and move us out of our comfort zones.  Who is ready to step up to the plate and make a difference?

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