Are you generation X as you don’t sound that old?
“Are you generation X as you don’t sound that old?” That was what a candidate said to me yesterday. I had no idea what to say other than “I still think I’m 24 but the inability to drink like I used to, and the hangovers tell me otherwise” was my response. **
It all came about while I was talking to a candidate yesterday. And I tend to find I only get asked about age by candidates who are worried about being discriminated against themselves because they are 10 – 15 years away from retirement. I don’t know about you, but looking at my pension statement, I’m planning on doing a Prince Philip, plus I work for myself, so I guess I’m fortunate enough to not have to worry about that just yet. So, to have a conversation about age at the other end of the scale was fascinating and it all started with a candidate who said, “I am awesome, and I want the company I work for to recognise that”. I was utterly gobsmacked by that statement, purely because I would never have said that when I was in my 20’s, or my 30’s, or even my 40’s as I am now. And despite doing a huge amount of stuff on LinkedIn and really putting myself out there, I think I genuinely lack a certain amount of confidence in myself. I care less what people think, but that isn’t confidence, I think that’s just when you get to a certain point in your life when you’ve gone through major life changing events, that changes your perspective. So yes, I’m not hugely confident but it did get me thinking…....is confidence a generation thing or a personal thing?
The types of roles that I recruit tend to be at a more senior level and candidates are confident in their ability as they’ve achieved a huge amount in their career. The numbers and words on their CV speak for themselves. But if you don’t have years of experience, how do you measure how good you are? If you’ve got a degree? If you’ve never not had a job? If people tell you? Or is it pure self-belief? And is it a bad thing? If someone is genuinely “awesome” why not say it? But where does that validation come from?
You only have to switch on some reality TV programme and wow, the people on there are so confident in not only themselves, but in their bodies. And a part of me is jealous, up until the age of 16, every time someone spoke to me, I went red. Then some kind person would say “oh you’re going red” and I’d then go another shade redder which I didn’t think was even possible. And I look around at my friends and we’re all the same, just normal, unassuming people. So, are there people out there in Generation X who have this confidence? Because if they have, I’ve not met them or are they labelled with the word “arrogant”? If a “Generation X” candidate had called me and said “I’m awesome…” would my response have been the same? Would I have thought, what an arrogant twonk? And did I think that deep down yesterday, but I was so taken aback I didn’t know what to think? I’m certainly not saying I’m being ageist here by responding differently to different people, I’m just trying to understand the thought process and the psychology behind people. And I’m guessing social media has a huge part to play in how the Millennials are, the sheer pressure to look amazing all the time, the selfie, the pout, the photo in the mirror of your stomach pulled in to an inch of your life….my most memorable selfie of me is in a chippy the wrong side of midnight with a mouth stuffed full of chips & curry sauce. I look at that photo now and grin from ear to ear, it’s me, completely me and no-one else, not trying to be anyone else, just me.
So, will I be putting the candidate forward for the job she applied for? I am yet to decide as I’m still processing my thoughts as well as speaking to a lot of “less awesome” / “less confident” candidates and until I’ve spoken to everyone who has applied this week, I feel that it’s not fair to make that decision. But what I do know is the Hiring Manager is a friend of mine. And if I’m taken aback by the candidates’ response, I am pretty confident she will be too.
** Just to clarify, the definition of Generation X is typically someone who was born early to mid 1960’s – early 1980’s……or someone who has to google what Generation X is in the first place!
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