There’s no such thing as a shortcut to success. But, if millennials want to do themselves a favor, they can learn much from those that came before them. Making an effort to learn career practices of those that have been in the workforce longer can prove an essential resource for those that are new to the business world.
Consider these eight career practices that millennials can learn from baby boomers:
One career advantage of baby boomers is knowledge of their economic value. It’s not uncommon for young workers to unnecessarily discredit their occupational value; they just don’t know any better. Millennials may perceive their experience to be inferior to more seasoned careerists, but there are some distinct advantages to a young age. If you’ve had internships or an early job change, you can synthesize your past experiences to demonstrate your value.
The most successful boomers are those that continuously adapt and change with the times. They don’t seem to ever age. Being able to adapt and go with the flow is difficult, and boomers have more experience and resilience than younger generations. Change is an inevitable part of your career and the business cycle, and you’ll be better off throughout your career if you can embrace it, learn, and adapt.
Boomers came of age when the workforce desperately needed them. As such, they have a tendency to be supremely optimistic about their career and their job prospects. And it’s a fact that optimists routinely get ahead. The boomers that remain in the workforce are embracing optimism with record energy — it gives them an upper hand over any sour, entitled young competition.
The biggest complaint about millennial careerists? A sense of entitlement. No matter your age, let us be clear — no one owes you anything. You do not deserve accolades and merit badges for following the rules. Life is not Scout Camp. Adjust accordingly.
At this point in their lives, boomers have learned the secret (pro tip: practice is the secret) to successful integration of their personal lives and careers. They know what types of work and workplaces are most conducive to their lifestyle. And when your innermost self is fulfilled, you can’t help but be successful. You and your employer should be aware of your passions, strengths, and weaknesses. And even if you don’t feel like it, you’re old enough and mature enough to make these self-assessments. The worst that you can be is wrong; make adjustments as you go.
The 2009 Harvard Business Review studied the career similarities of baby boomers and Gen Yers, and they’re not so dissimilar after all. Flexibility is one thing that workers of all ages require, and it’s OK to have a reasonable expectation of this workplace trait. If you’re doing your work and performing well, you should feel free to demand flexibility of your employers. (Note: This is not an excuse to be bratty. See “You Are Not Entitled To Anything,” above.) As the structure of business changes, so does the landscape of the workplace. And even if you don’t have to juggle a family, you’re bound to have a full post-graduate life.
Boomers stake a lot on their reputations, and they’ve gone further in the business world than most millennials. Business ethics and personal integrity can be the difference between success and failure. And if that’s not enough, having a reputation for ethical practices makes you look really good. Consider this: you can’t get behind by being honest and doing the right thing. Any other path is fairly risky. Don’t lie on your resume, don’t cheat on the job — there’s simply no need.
One wholly intimidating quality of baby boomers in business is their ability to self-start. Younger workers often lack the confidence of initiative, and make the mistake of waiting for orders from authority figures. Here’s a free secret: the business world is exactly like college — it is precisely what you make of it. If you create a position and value for yourself, you prove your worth in your company or field.
This article was first posted in Online Business Degree.