Are You A Boomer With B.E.A.?

by: Joanne Meehl

Do you have B.E.A. - "Boomer Entitlement Attitude" - about job search?

There's lots written about the entitlement attitude of Gen X or Gen Y or millennials who are in job search. You know, the expecting-to-be-VP-in-a-year kind of thing.

Well, the baby boomer generation shows its own negative attitudes about careers and job search. I speak regularly to groups in job search, and here are a few things that the 50+ crowd in the room communicates through its body language, questions, and comments. I've included my responses, and some tips for changing your attitude.

"I deserve that next step in my career; after all, it's something I've been working toward."
My response: Your next employer doesn't owe you the promotion your last employer didn't give you. Or the salary. So you need to show the potential employer what you can do next for them, not what you used to do for someone else.

Tip: Tell one of your success stories that's directly related to what they need done.

Another version of this one, said to me with assurances you'd never say it this way in an interview: "All I want is a good job, one that will carry me until I retire".

My response: Of course I want you to get a good job, and coaches like me work with you to make it happen faster and with less pain. But "carry you"?! A job isn't a vessel that carries you, and neither is a career. Instead, it's what you MAKE it. And "until you retire"?! This attitude leaks out, and if you're confiding this with your network contacts, they are highly unlikely to refer you on to friends at other organizations who might need you. One whiff of your "next job only" thinking to an employer, instead of "how I'm moving through my career" thinking, and you'll be seen as a lesser candidate and higher flight risk in comparison to your peers.

Tip: Pay attention to how your language is betraying you. Better yet, shift your thinking to longer term: you don't know what the future holds financially and don't want to set deadlines that might be unrealistic.

-?"I'm shocked that employers don't stay in touch with you, even after you've had an interview. Sometimes they don't even let you know where you stand after multiple interviews! And if you don't get the job, they don't let you know why you weren't picked!"
My response: Is this rudeness on the part of the employer, or are they in overwhelm? It's both: my sources in HR tell me that the overwhelming numbers of resumes and other communications cause a thinly-staffed department to just not have time to respond individually. Companies really should have better communications abilities, especially for the candidates who take hours to prepare for interviews, hours that are lost if the answer is "no". But companies can forget how to be human. So if you don't hear after numerous attempts to reconnect with the hiring manager, it's tough but move on. And the feedback question: often corporate policy forbids this. Tip: Let go of the "How did I do on the quiz?" mentality. Just refocus on other companies in your target list.

Tip #2: Make connections within the companies/organizations you want to work for, even if you don't know them at the time you apply. Get to know these contacts (through introductions by your network, through LinkedIn searches) and the time spent doing that will absolutely pay off.

"I think things like texting and blogging and Twitter and 'social media' are silly so I refuse to learn any of that."
My response: Remember how silly LinkedIn seemed to be just a few years ago, and how critical it is to your search now? Other tools are joining LinkedIn right now. Have you actually tried any of them? By refusing to learn new things about how people communicate, like 'em or not, you are cutting yourself out of how things are done today, bad enough on its own. But it also means you are dating yourself. Today, the group or team is the highly prized unit. So it's no longer about just you and your boss, it's about being included in (reachable by) the team in any way possible. Drop the attitude and catch up -- the web is loaded with tutorials on any of this. I recommend anyone and everyone use Twitter, because staying up-to-the-minute in your career field shows your dedication.

Tip: Get the free "what to tweet" Twitter download on my web site at

A final word: Boomers who make these mistakes often set up a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure and endless job search. It's so sad to see and that's what prompted me to write this so that it stops, one boomer at a time.

Know that all of these attitudes are in your control. Make the suggested changes and you'll feel a new energy in your search that others will pick up on -- and this will help you land your new job sooner.


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